Social Media and Ministry Effectiveness

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on March 27, 2012

in ministry, religious communities, Uncategorized

According to Erik Qualman, author of Socialnomics, “The ROI [return on investment] on social media is that your business will still exist in five years.”  That is a pretty strong statement.  I wonder what the ROI is for social media in ministry.  Much of ministry is one on one personal engagement, but there are aspects of ministry that can be supported and enhanced by social media: outreach, education, collaboration, inspiration, communication and fund raising to name a few.  Could resistance to using social media and the Internet be putting your “job” as a minister at risk?

Here is 2012 version of Erik Qualman’s short video on the Social Media Revolution.  See what you think about it in relation to the way you carry out your ministry.

This may sound extreme,but I do not think that we should be hiring new staff members in our organizations who do not know how to incorporate social media and the Internet into their job description to some degree. The world has changed and if we want to be effective with the people we serve, we need to be conversant with their means of communication. And for those of us already engaged in ministry, if we want to stay active and don’t know social media and the Internet, we need to retool or retire.

Vocation directors recognize this. In a recent survey which I conducted, I discovered that more than 80% of vocation directors of the 209 religious communities that participated in the survey are involved in overseeing and sometimes executing a website and social media in carrying out their ministries. These responsibilities were probably not part of their job descriptions 10 years ago–but they are expected today.

How about your ministry? How has it changed with the advent of social media? How do you see it changing in the future?

Ken Gleason March 27, 2012 at 1:42 pm

Our office – the Office of Evangelization & Catechesis in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati – now has two major efforts (in addition to a number of smaller ones) that involved the Internet and social media. We have a bunch of bloggers about the faith as part of the Archdiocesan web site. We began preparing for this months ago, including vetting and training the bloggers, but we just went live on Ash Wednesday. So far we are getting 12,000 hits a week, and at least 8,000 are from unique IP addresses! Check it out at

We have also begun making our DVDs and videos available online (a la Netflix). Some of them are free. For the others, schools and parishes in the Archdiocese have to pay $50.00 per year. (And, yes, we have all the pertinent permissions from the publishers. We had to pay for some; others were free.)

No more business as usual!

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND March 28, 2012 at 6:05 am

Dear Ken,
Congratulations to you and all of your colleagues who are witnessing and teaching on the Internet. The number of hits tells you that you are on to something, I looked at your blog. Very nice and engaging.

Teri Bockstahler March 28, 2012 at 9:58 am

Thanks for the updated video. I have seen the Social Media Revolution 2011. I will figure out a way to share with our sisters so they all understand the impact of social media. . . as you know many are engaged, but many are not.

Marc Cardaronella April 2, 2012 at 11:21 am

I think more and more job descriptions will include the need for social media experience. I’m already seeing it happening. So much of our ministry can be enhanced and expanded through social media, especially on the diocesan level. I really applaud the work being done at the Archdiocese of Cincinnati! That is so excellent! And the new website you guys set up is amazing!