Valerie Deveza, a blogger and in-bound marketing guru, stresses in her writings the importance of falling in love with the people you serve and using the best tools to reach them. She is talking to business people about social media, but this is also true for people in ministry.
In using social media for business and for mission, we must remember that it is about building relationships and providing content of such value that our audience will want to share it. As we approach how we will use social media in ministry and which platforms we will use, we need to know our intended audience and have something of value to offer them.
As Valerie points out in her blog post, Can’t Keep Up? 6 Ways to Rev Up Your Social Media Plan, using social media for business [ministry] takes time, planning, research, assessment and measurement. Yes, it is work—but it is good work to be doing and it can be fun.
Using social media in ministry helps us to frame our thinking around what our people need to love God and live fuller, happier lives in this world and the next. What do we have to offer them? We have our lived experiences of faith and growth, family, prayer, spirituality, liturgy, justice and care for the environment. We have our love of scripture, for the Church, the poor and the marginalized. We can put what we love into words, on video or audio, and share resources on social media that will help others experience and grow in that same love. We can be friendly and caring; we can be funny and compassionate. We can share our communities and our vocations. We can hear what they say back. We can listen to their ideas and concerns and we can respond. We do this because we love them and want the best for them. And we use social media as one of our tools because that is where they are.
But let’s be real, it can be scary. How do you start? My suggestion is to start by playing with Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube for fun. See how they work. I was interested in Twitter for quite a while before I started using it. One day, I was watching the women’s basketball team from a local university in the NCAA tournament on TV. They announced that one of the reporters would be sitting behind the bench tweeting during the game. I was interested in the “behind the bench” info, so I got on Twitter and followed her. I saw how others joined in the tweeting. It was easy, it was fun.
Now I follow over 700 people on Twitter: Catholics, social media gurus, Catholic publishers, religious communities, and my favorite sports teams. A scan of my timeline a couple times a day brings me all kinds of information—a lot of it quite helpful. I get links to some really good articles that I never would have found on my own. Over 1800 people follow me on Twitter. I hope that my tweets add value to their day. This is all pretty amazing considering my timid start. And I have met some wonderful, dedicated people along the way who share my love for God and ministry.
Yes, using social media is work, but it is also fun. Start out easy–once you get comfortable, then get serious about planning ways to use it to serve the people you love.
What about you? How did you get started on social media?
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