What are Your Online Challenges?

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on March 20, 2012

in blog, religious communities, Sisters of Notre Dame, Uncategorized

Today you see the new Catholic Web Solutions design. This re-design is part of our vision of creating a multichannel online brand for my community, the Sisters of Notre Dame in Chardon, Ohio. Last week I wrote about the four new  SND blogs we launched in the past few months as part of the plan. With this re-design, Catholic Web Solutions becomes more easily identified with them.

I have also posted a new page on this blog called “Vocations.” Right now it has links to the recent survey results and webinar I did in partnership with Christian Brothers Services on Using Websites, Social Media and Online Promotions to Support Vocation Ministries. I plan to offer more resources on this page in the future. You may wish to check it out.

This week, I would like to hear from you. But before you comment, if you do not have an “avatar,” an image that goes with your name, please go to Gravatar, a site that provides globally recognizable avatars.  Get your free Gravatar today. Basically, the Gravatar is the image (photo) that you wish to associate with your email address so that when you make a comment on blogs and web forums that are avatar enabled, that image/photo will appear. It is very nice to see the photos of the people commenting. It makes you appear much more “sociable.”

Now, we are ready to hear from you. Please comment on the new CWS design and the idea of a multichannel brand for an organization. Also, I have two questions for you.

1) If you are already active online (website, blog and/or social media such as Facebook and Twitter), what is your greatest challenge?

2) If you are not active online, what is holding you back?

Your response to either of these questions will be appreciated by me and the other readers.  We can learn much from each other if we share our insights and experiences.  Let’s hear from you. Thank you.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Kristina March 20, 2012 at 9:52 am

I am becoming more and more active online, having Facebook, a blog and adding at least weekly content to my pages of my diocesan website. (Our social media guru says I am in the 60-70th percentile of diocesan users. lol))

My biggest challenge currently is how to balance the Gospel call to downward mobility with the costs associated with being “connected.” I would use twitter and a smartphone, but can I really justify the additional $60 per month to do so? ($30 per month data fee, plus the phone cost over 2 years). A tablet has the same issues today-connectivity, but at a cost, financially plus the cost of being “in” as opposed to showing a preferential option for the poor.

A smaller issue, but my biggest challenge with Facebook is countering the narcissism – most people seem to use it to project a certain image of themselves to the world, sharing minutia of their days. I do not wish to participate in that, yet I appear out of it or judgmental if I only post every few days about something in church news or related to my faith (or bigger personal devts.)

And thanks for the Gravatar suggestion!

Dave Pipitone March 20, 2012 at 10:08 am

Very nice design, Sr. Susan. Fresh and clean – like the marvelous, early Spring we are having this year. Keep up the great work!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 20, 2012 at 12:22 pm

Dear Kristina-congratulations on your growing use of the Internet for mission. You raise some really good questions. Here are some of my thoughts about them. I hope others will add their ideas as well.

I see technology as a tool. We invest in and use the tools within our means that help us to do our ministries best. Our goal in using technology is to reach the people we are serving where they are. While smartphones and tablets may appear “in”–they can also be very effective tools. Remember, Jesus was criticized for hanging out with the “wrong” people and allowing the woman to anoint his feet with the expensive oils. We can’t expect to avoid criticism ourselves. I am on Twitter (@srsusan with 1780+ followers) and do almost all of my Tweeting on my computer–not on a smartphone or tablet. I would probably need to be more “heavy into Twitter” to use the other tools. If your ministry requires or your leaders desire you to do more on social media–perhaps the organization should provide you the tools.

As for Facebook–everyone uses it for different reasons. Don’t worry about how others view your use of Facebook–use it to share with the people you care about what matters to you. And when it is opportune, respond to what others share as you can. It is like “small talk” at parties—sometimes we just have to do it. If some peoples’ posts are totally annoying to you–you can hide them from your timeline or just “unfriend” the posters. If you are basically sharing ministry content–then consider creating a Facebook page–just for that, rather than using your personal page. People can follow you if they are interested in your content and you do not have to “relate” to them in the same way you relate to your friends. My ministry Facebook page is http://www.facebook.com/catholicwebsolutions for example.

I would love to hear what others have to say.

Sr.Marilyn Marie March 20, 2012 at 1:18 pm

Susan, I continue to appreciate your timely posts and helps in focusing on social media. I believe our greatest challenge (mine and our community’s communication director) is finding new ways to build our base of followers for Facebook, Twitter and our blog. We’re certainly farther along than we were, and we know we have a long way to go.

David Niles March 20, 2012 at 1:45 pm

Nice, easy-to-follow design, Sister. I voluntarily handle Twitter, Facebook, Posterous (for homily audios), and website content for our parish. The biggest challenge is keeping energized and keeping up with Facebook changes and the onset of other platforms such as Pinterest. A few other parishioners are on board with me, but we, as a parish, need to more formally commit to this form of evangelism. We need to more effectively be where our “target audience” is living and communicating online.

Lisa Hendey March 20, 2012 at 4:52 pm

Thanks for the great topic. My biggest challenge is honestly staying on top of a daily crush of email. I have the sense that my inbox will never be tidy and despite the use of filters and labels it feels like a daily battle.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 20, 2012 at 7:53 pm

Marilyn, David and Lisa,

You have hit upon three of the most critical areas of this ministry:
1) How to drive traffic to the sites we have
2) How to be strategic in the way we use our sites
3) Time management when people really do communicate with us

These are good topics for future posts as well as comments from other readers. What is your experience with any of these issues?

Therese Boucher March 21, 2012 at 9:07 am

I like the new look. Photos are worth more than a thousand words in making an impression and leading to content.

I have been working on the relationship between websites and youtube for quite a while, and more recently, the relationship between a website and FB. I enjoy shooting a lot of stills and video. The challenge is finding the time to work on so many internet fronts at once. I almost need an egg timer to juggle online ministry with so many other pressing commitments.

Lisa Hendey March 21, 2012 at 11:48 am

I find myself more concerned with relationships than traffic — building good dialogue and friendships seems to relate directly to keeping people coming back to your site (like you’ve done here!). As far as being “strategic” I have been asking myself lately how what we blog about ADDS to the conversation rather than duplicating information. That’s my greatest priority for CatholicMom.com these days…

And since I raised the time management issue, I’m hoping for some great suggestions from others!

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