What’s the best way to use social media in youth ministry?
Depending on how savvy you are at using social media, you could find yourself either overly confused, or on the other end of the spectrum, you might find that too much knowledge is leading you to wasting too much time in ineffective ways. Because I have struggled on both ends of the spectrum, I have created 5 specific ways in which I use social media effectively and efficiently.
My 5 C’s of Social Media:
1) COMMUNICATION: This is perhaps the most obvious use of social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
- Promotion of events and programs. This can be a quick reminder or the creation of an official event.
- Links to helpful websites and articles for parents. (Parents are reading many of you posts too…)
- Schedule: Use apps such as Hootesuite to schedule your tweets and shares for events and programs. Rather than having to remember the day of or day before, you can schedule all your tweets and shares at one time.
- Link: Connect your website or blog with your social media so that updates get automatically sent out. WordPress, (I run WordPress on this site), has some good plugins that will automatically post when you update the website.
- Frequency: Remember to post multiple times, (but not too much), to get the message in the feeds of your followers.
- Post Times: Post at strategic times. I have found that right after school and early evening are good times for students.
2) COMMUNITY: Create groups and pages that allow students and leaders to continue community outside the group time. This is not a replacement for real community since nothing beats face to face communication.
- Run a photo caption contest.
- Ask an important question about students or ‘their world?’
- Get their input on an upcoming message, message series, or event.
3) CARE: Social media is a great way to find out how students are doing. Some would call it stalking, I call it caring. Especially if a student has missed for a couple of weeks or has appeared to be hurting. It’s surprising how much students will share through pages and tweets. It’s then that we can speak into their lives about a situation they have made public.
4) CONTINUE THE CONVERSATION: To be honest, this is not something I have made much use of, but I have stumbled across this recently. There have been a few times I have shared a passage or quote from a lesson that evening / morning. It’s amazing how many of the students who were there for the message share and retweet passages and quotes. It’s even a good idea to post questions and statements in the following days to help remind students of the essential truths that were taught.
5) COLLABORATION: Using groups such as Facebook Groups is create for collaborating when working on a project or goal with our students. Just this last weekend, myself and one of my volunteers met with 8 students to plan and implement a 3 weeks series on Creation. We have created a closed Facebook group where students can post ideas, links, and upload documents as they create this new series together.
NEED MORE IDEAS? For more great ideas, insights, and understanding, fellow blogger / writer Terrace Crawford has written a great book that can help you become an expert in all things social media. Check out his book Going Social: A Practical Guide on Social Media for Church Leaders
How do you use social media? What tips can you share with others? What trends do you see happening in social media. If your students are moving away from Facebook, where are they moving to?