A few weeks ago, I started a discussion thread with the LinkedIn group Association of Catholics Exploring Social Media. I asked for ideas on what I should tell seminarians about social media ministry. I received some very thoughtful answers which I have used to create a top ten list of things to know. While the question focused on seminarians, the answers can be applied to anyone in ministry.
Here is my top ten list of what people in ministry should know about social media ministry.
- Understand that the Internet is missionary territory and social media is a tool to bring the gospel to a very large audience we may never see in church.
- Remember that what is posted on the Internet is there forever. Never post anything (text or photo) you don’t want to reappear in your future or be sent to your pastor or bishop.
- Post at regular intervals. Weekly is good for blogs. Posts on Facebook and Twitter can be more frequent, but don’t over post—people will stop paying attention.
- Make the posts short (appropriate for the platform) and make the headline and opening sentence compelling. Keep blog posts under 500 words; keep Facebook posts to a few sentences, Twitter posts under 140 characters and videos under three minutes. Include photos and graphics.
- Use posts to drive people to a website where you can tell them more.
- Let the Holy Spirit be in charge. Remember that social media is primarily about connecting with people. Leave the results to the Holy Spirit.
- Create posts that add value to people’s lives: answer their questions, raise their consciousness, give them information, make them smile…
- Share from your heart not just your head. People want to know who you are. They want to see the witness of your life. Your content doesn’t always have to be serious or scripture based, but it does have to be authentic.
- Understand the professional boundaries of your ministry. Be faithful to the Church and the magisterium. Be respectful of your readers. Establish rules based on Christian charity and civility for discussions on controversial topics. Opposing views are okay; abusive language and personal attacks are not. Delete the violators.
- Welcome feedback from your readers and learn from what they say.
There are probably many other points we can make, but I think the above list is a good start. If you would like to add something, please comment below. Thank you very much.
The Association of Catholics Exploring Social Media is a LinkedIn discussion group dedicated to discussing social media for the new evangelization. It has over 800 members. I am grateful to the members who took the time to share their responses to my question. If you are on LinkedIn and this is a topic that interests you, why not join today? (It is free.)
P.S. I just added two more books to my bookstore. The first is The Social Media Gospel, Sharing the Good News in New Ways by Meredith Gould (available in July). This is must read book if you are interested in using social media for ministry. It is practical and witty–fun to read. The second is: Rebuilt, Awakening the Faithful, Reaching the Lost and Making Church Matter by Michael White and Tom Corcoran. While not about social media directly, the book shares the challenges of bringing the new evangelization to our parish communities.