An Integrated Online Presence Takes Planning and Team Work

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on April 17, 2012

in Sisters of Notre Dame

At the end of March, the Sisters of Notre Dame of Chardon, Ohio, launched a new website. This website is the centerpiece of a multi-channel online presence which includes blogs, social media and links to various SND ministry sites. The goals of our online presence as an apostolic religious community are to: 1) advance our mission; 2) attract vocations; and 3) engage supporters. These goals were uppermost in our minds as we carefully planned each component of our online presence.

Advancing our mission online is first of all sharing our charism, a deep awareness of the goodness and provident care of God, with our online visitors. Second, we want to minister to them in as many ways as possible: offering prayer support, education in faith, justice, spirituality and ministry, and providing connections to our community and to one another. We carry out these ministries in various ways throughout our different sites and channels. We provide eight different contact forms for those who want more information. These go directly to the sisters who can best help them.

Attracting vocations is the second goal of our online presence. We want women who are considering apostolic religious life to consider joining us. Through each of our channels, we share who we are and what we are about. We want our visitors to know that we are passionate about religious life and ministry. We love God, one another, and the people we serve. We are happy. In the footer on every page of our website and on each of our blogs, we directly invite women to join us. We give them a link to contact our vocation director.

As a community, we are blessed to have many supporters: families, friends, co-workers, donors, associates, former students, former members and others, who want to know what’s happening with us on a regular basis. Through our various channels we are able to keep them informed and engaged with us. They can also communicate with us through social media and other online vehicles. The message we want to convey is that we are here on the Internet with you and for you. We have also provided a subscription option for our news and events entries.

It was a team effort. We were able to get this engaging web presence because nearly forty sisters and eight staff members contributed to the various sites and channels; we had a well-thought out master plan; and we had a web-designer (John A. Sexton, Ph.D, Founder and Creative Director of Groupmind Media) who understood our goals and expertly translated them into a family of WordPress sites.

Our effort required a content strategy and coordination for which I was responsible. It also required the support of our leadership team which was there from the beginning. The project was very energizing for me as I see the potential in such an online ministry. To be able to facilitate the sharing of our charism and the gifts of our members with the wider digital world gives me great joy. I would love to help other religious communities create an online presence that effectively expresses their charism and gifts as well. That’s why I started Catholic Web Solutions.

The next stage of our project, is promoting all of our sites. I will keep you posted.

Please take a look at our main site, subscribe to our News and Events, follow us on Facebook or Twitter, subscribe to our blogs, and give us feedback. You can help make our SND online presence even better.

Do you believe, as we do, that an “integrated” online presence  is important? What are the benefits and the challenges as you see them? Share your thoughts below.  Thank you.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Sr. Carol D. April 17, 2012 at 7:09 am

Thanks for all you do to keep our website up, running and current. I believe that it is a great blessing for our community and all who are interested inn our charism.

Carol Ziegler April 17, 2012 at 10:00 am

Thought this was really interesting to see how the SND team beefed up their website. C

Marc Cardaronella April 17, 2012 at 10:16 am

This masterplan for the community is awesome! Great thinking.

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF April 17, 2012 at 10:24 am

Goals are so helpful! These are simple and to the point –
The goals of our online presence as an apostolic religious community are to: 1) advance our mission; 2) attract vocations; and 3) engage supporters. I wonder what would happen if each organization would get clear about what they want to accomplish with an online presence?

Kristi Jenkins April 17, 2012 at 11:51 am

I was also struck by the importance of having 3 goals. I’m also wondering more about the “40 sisters and 8 staff members”- can you say more about how the team got together and functioned in creating the site? I’d love to see more of our parishioners and staff involved in our online presence, and an example to point to would be immensely helpful! Thanks for all your postings.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND April 17, 2012 at 1:37 pm

Thanks for your comments everyone. You hit on the most important elements: goals, a master plan and involvement. We had a planning team of 16 people representing our ministries and our administrative departments. That group identified stakeholders to serve, goals, language and visual impact desired. While that group was working (We had three 90 minute meetings, also worked in between and by email.), we launched our social media sites with a team of 3 sisters working on Facebook posts (which automatically post to Twitter). Once the planning group had created a very detailed site map, our website designer created the overall design and then we invited sisters and staff who worked in the various areas to provide the content according to guidelines that we provided. While the content was being written, we worked with our four new bloggers to get their sites designed and launched. Once all of the website content was in, we uploaded it. We ask our photographers for photos. And we ask a few people to proofread and others to receive and process the contact forms that went with their areas of responsibility. Before you know it–we had many contributors. Even I was surprised at the number. The key is to ask people for input about what they know and to tell them exactly what you want–how many words, what to provide if they wanted a contact form included, etc. Know what you want, ask for it and you will not waste your time or other people’s time is my motto. I received very sharp copy and had to do very little editing. After we launched the site, I asked the community to review it and send me any corrections. There were some edits needed and they were easily made. The whole process took a great deal of coordination and collaboration. The planning work was extremely important. The sisters and the staff really wanted a new site and were happy to contribute.

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