What is the place of social media in ministry?

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 18, 2010

in Catholic, ministry, social media, Uncategorized

The use of social media tools in ministry is one of the priorities of Benedict XVI and one of the challenges facing those who do ministry. The Holy Father has urged priests and those in pastoral ministries to take advantage of these new tools to proclaim the gospel and bring others to Christ. For ministry leaders already balancing many different priorities—social media might be the last thing they want to think about. However, as much as some of us are reluctant to use it, we need to move social media up on our list of ministry priorities.

What is Social Media?

Social media is the collection of internet tools and programs that allows people to connect and interact online, and share content, opinions, pictures, videos, and anything else they want. New social media tools are being created daily. The most well known, of course, are Facebook with over 500 million members worldwide and Twitter with over 106 million. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google.

Erick Qualman, Global Vice President for Digital Marketing at EF Education, wrote Socialnomics: How Social Media Transforms the Way We Live and Do Business in 2009 to describe the changes taking place in communications. Here is a short video summarizing some of his findings.

Social Media Revolution 2 (Refresh) from Erik Qualman on Vimeo.

Where are we in social media?

While this video is talking about business brands, we can ask how is the “brand” of our diocese, our parish, our organization, our religious community faring in social media? Can we be found there if people want to engage with us? Do we have a blog or a podcast? Are we contributing articles to Wikipedia and videos to YouTube? Are we engaging others in conversations on Facebook and Twitter? As professionals are we on Linkedin? We don’t have to be doing everything, but each one of us needs to be doing what we can to contribute to the overall presence of faith-filled witnesses and teachers on the Internet.

Social media offers tools for education, communication and promotion of our mission

In the November-December 2010 issue of Health Progress, The Journal of the Catholic Health Association of the United States,, William Sweetland and Susan C. Thomson report how Catholic hospitals are starting to use social media to advance their mission. Click here to read their article. 

What other signs do you see that we who serve in ministry are embracing the challenges and opportunities of using social media for mission?

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Don McCrabb October 18, 2010 at 7:24 am

Great introduction to the reality of social networking! What if 10 people capture in three sentences the insights from the homily yesterday and posted it on Facebook? What would that do for our parishes?

tsanko October 18, 2010 at 9:57 am

Wonderful ..thanks a lot for posting a good informitive blog

Elaine October 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

I am really impressed, especially by the video in this article. At our last Pastoral Council meeting we began talking about getting on Facebook. We have a lot of questions and also a lot of enthusiasm and interest for the media, but do not feel adequatly adept to moving forward. Your articles are helping a lot.

Don McCrabb October 18, 2010 at 3:02 pm

Just had a really bad experience with FACEBOOK. Have you encountered the “no survey” links? Usually it has a story associated with it – one was on domenstic violence (we are doing some consciousness raising in our parish and this is “the month”), – one was on text messaging, and one was on McDonald Happy Meals. Once you click on the link it takes you to another web page with a barrage of questions which puts you on a lot of product lists. Does anyone know anything more about this type of link? How do we get FACEBOOK to look into it?

RS Rivers October 19, 2010 at 9:44 am

I had the impression that the “social media” ministry was about social justice. I am now better informed about what it is. RSRivers

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND October 20, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Don,

I am sorry about your bad experience on Facebook. I did a little research and found these possible options:

1) You can to go to http://www.facebook.com/help/?topic=reportabuse to find out how to report the specific abuse you are talking about.

2) Or try emailing them at abuse@facebook.com.

It is not clear to me where your problem link was — in the ads column or on your wall, so that would be good to include in your report.

Let us know if you get it resolved.

Susan

Marc Cardaronella October 21, 2010 at 2:43 pm

That’s a good thought Don. I think the place of social media is to extend our ministry into the large world that might not have the chance to meet us in person, or have the inclination to walk into a parish. It puts us in places we don’t normally go to meet people we might not normally meet. That’s powerful.

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