Are Web and Social Media Sites Viable Ministry Tools?

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on January 19, 2016

in website

home-office-336373_1920Many people in ministry have come to accept that having a website and possibly even a Facebook Page are “necessary,” to be credible or relevant today. The number who see them as important and valuable ministry tools are fewer. How do I know that? I frequently see ministry websites that are poorly designed and have text heavy home pages. These sites are non-responsive to mobile devices and not helpful to visitors. The quality of social media ministry sites varies as well.

When websites and social media are seen as important and valuable ministry tools, the parish, diocese, ministry or organization dedicate time and money to their development, maintenance and growth. Their sites are current, attractive and well-maintained. They respond to the needs of their audiences.

One of our challenges is that the people who are in ministry—who must be the primary source of content for web and social media sites—usually are not web and social media savvy. Some are intimidated by it, others don’t have time or ability to learn it, or do not have the support of leadership or a budget to move forward. And there are not a lot of resources or manuals to help them. The web ministers are, by necessity, self-taught.

I want to affirm every ministry person who is pioneering in this field. You are pastors, pastoral associates, religious men and women, lay ministers (volunteer and paid) in parishes, organizations, publishing companies, schools, dioceses and so many more places. You were working hard before the Internet came along. Now, you are paving the way for future generations of ministers who will be both ministry competent and web and social media savvy.

Those who are teaching themselves are leading the way. Those ministers who find tech savvy people to partner with are doing great work. There is a lot of trial and error going on, but we are making progress.

This is by way of introduction to the answers to the fourth question on my January 5 Reader’s Survey which was: What would you to like learn more about in regard to your online ministry in 2016? The responses can be grouped in three categories.

Website

  • Detailed strategies for drawing traffic to a parish website.
  • Best length for a web article; we currently link some of our print magazine stories to related articles & items on the web.
  • How to post voice and music
  • How to put vocal prayer on our site
  • What are people seeking and are pages for reader input helpful
  • Helpful hints for ‘spicing up’ websites and blogs.

Facebook

  • Detailed strategies for drawing traffic to a parish Facebook page.

General website/social media

  • How best to assess the success of our posts
  • Advice as to how often to post on website, FB, Instagram
  • Sources for usable photos and videos

If you have something you want to learn that is not here, please post it in the comments below.

If you have something to share from your own experience on any of my posts this year, please do so. We are all in this together.

Thank you.

 

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Gerianne Dobmeier January 19, 2016 at 7:30 am

We are in the process of working on a prayer book with the possibility of offering it to the public. Our possible goal is to build an email listing through this offer. We are familiar with other offers and notice that when you click on the offer, it leads you to fields requesting your email address information. Can you send me a detailed guide on how we can make this happen?

Pat Sylvester January 19, 2016 at 8:06 am

Thanks Susan. Your article is encouraging for many of us new to the technology needed.

Robert Lucas January 19, 2016 at 8:38 am

Over the past year, I have become more familiar with a new tool, iMovie. This is helping getting our youth involved in our electronic ministry by the creation of short trailers of activities which are posted on YouTube and then linked to our website and Facebook page. Our latest youth activity is to create a “Welcome Video” to welcome people to our parish from a youth perspective. I see a lot of potential here, and recommend this as an added tool to anyone who wants to create short “trailers” to make their website and Facebook page more interesting.

marika January 19, 2016 at 9:26 am

I think another thing that would be very helpful are samples of good social media policies for church organizations that find the right balance between the need of privacy/security/legal issues and the need to be open enough to be able to create online community and relationships.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND January 19, 2016 at 9:57 am

Gerianne,
I do not have a detailed guide to send you. What I would use for your project is an email marketing program. I use Aweber to capture emails for different lists. It automatically delivers this blog and other materials on other lists for me. This is a paid service. I would encourage readers who have related experience to tell us what they use.
Good luck!

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