Using social media to reach your community is a great strategy for reaching young people. At this point, I would suggest that virtually every ministry participant under 30 uses Facebook, under 25 uses Youtube, and probably 50% up through age 55 are occasional users of these technologies.
Do this experiment at your next meeting: Ask for a show of hands of Facebook users – who has ever used facebook, monthly, weekly, daily. If you are not already a facebook user yourself, you will be surprised at the way this particular technology has become pervasive.
Understand that Facebook is a great tool for staying connected with people that you spend time with less often than you would like. It is both entertaining and useful.
Here is my quick strategy guide for using Facebook to promote your ministry in your community:
1) Create an official facebook fan page for your ministry. You need to create a facebook account (probably for several leaders in your ministry) so that someone can update this page.
2) Ask all of your current ministry participants to become a fan of your ministry. This automatically “subscribes” them to updates you post on your page.
3) Make it someone’s ministry role to post updates on your facebook page.
4) Post updates frequently: at least once per week. Tell your fan’s what each week’s message is about, post a related devotional passage, publish links to audio or video from last weeks message. Find interesting internet content related to aspects of your ministry, and post links. These things show up on your fan’s “news feed”, and they can share them with friends.
5) Make “Events” – any special event that your ministry has, make an event on Facebook – have all of your fan’s invite their friends to your event. This is especially useful for kid’s events that friends and family already get invited to.
6) Communicate with any new fan’s (like first time attendees at your ministry event) treat them like friends.
7) Encourage your ministry participants to use the technology to share their faith.
This is free, it is fun, and it is effective because it follows these principles:
- It uses media that is already familiar.
- It is not intimidating (I don’t have to do anything special to participate).
- There is no learning curve.
- It is about person to person communication, not mass media, so everybody gets the message from their friend, not directly from your ministry.
Here is my quick strategy guide for using Youtube to promote your ministry in your community:
1) Register an account on Youtube.com to host simple video clips.
2) Create small video messages:
- depicting the ministry experience (sermon clip, worship)
- sharing socially relevant or challenging messages
- showing how your ministry is involved in the community
- Make sure that your videos are self-explanatory (have titles and credits that explain your ministry and provide contact information)
- 2-6 minute segments
3) Publish new content on your channel regularly (weekly, monthly)
- Embed links in your videos to your website, or your facebook page
- Make sure your content is tagged with your topics and the name of your community
4) Send links your content to your members/participants so that they can share them with their friends.
5) Share your links on your facebook page.