Digital Discipleship: Transforming Ministry Through Technology

As I was reading “Mistakes to Avoid in Social Media” my mind was adapting this article to ministry language.

We are often encouraged to get involved with social media in our catechetical and parish ministries.  Many of our colleagues are blogging, facebook-ing, twitter-ing and more!  Some with a great deal of success and others struggling to leverage the power of social media.  Allow me to reinterpret  what Dawn Papandrea shares in her post.  Here are the top seven things that others are doing wrong.  Here is where you want to do right.  Wonderful suggestions for your success!

1. Boycotting social media

If you’ve avoided setting up a Facebook page or a Twitter profile for your ministry, using the excuse that social media is a passing fad, it’s time to join the crowd.  These platforms, and others such as Google+, are here to stay (or at least they’re here until the next big thing comes along), and they’re where your families and students are spending a lot of time.

2. Expecting immediate results

Sorry, but you can’t assume that once you announce to the world that you’re on Facebook, you’ll have all sorts of followers. Social media is all about brand awareness – in ministry terms – it is about creating relationships through technology, engaging your families and students, and building a community–and that takes time!

3. Sounding like a commercial

People will lose interest in your stream pretty quickly if you use your pages to promote, promote, promote. Instead, think of what value you can give to your audience. Perhaps it’s a Scripture quote for the day, or a tip for daily prayer, or inviting Scripture faith-sharing during Advent or Lent.  Once you become a trusted authority, people will stay connected, and you’ll come up on their wall, twitter post or other digital locations. I recently heard about a parish priest who invited those who were interested to be involved in a 10-week Scripture reflection.  200 participants joined him!

4. Not engaging or responding

If you aren’t actively conversing with your network, you’re wasting your time. Make it a point to answer questions about your ministry, or address issues, in a timely manner. Even something as simple as sending out a happy birthday message to your users will let them know you care about them.

5. Letting an intern run your social media

Don’t pass the responsibility of your social media efforts off to someone else, unless you’re sure that person is a good representative of your ministry. While it’s true that social media can take up time, it’s vital that it’s done properly.

6. Being all business, all the time

As relationships develop, it’s great to let your hair down. Let your clients get to know the person who cares about them. For example, many companies on Twitter make it a point to use an employee’s photo, instead of the company logo.  Do you hide who you are with those awful looking digital faceless avatars? A photo of you adds the personal touch!

7. Not targeting the right people

When you’re starting up your pages, it’s great to add your friends and family, to get your numbers up. Ultimately, though, you want to attract your target ministry market. Do this by letting your families know that you’re on social sites. Add the links to your email signature and to your business cards. Put up a poster in your office. And give people an incentive to connect, by offering something of value, like a contest or discount coupon.

Remember to pay attention to your diocesan guidelines regarding your relationship with minors in a social network environment.  Every diocese offers suggestions.  Check out to see how the Diocese of St. Petersburg offers guidance in this area of Social Media.

By avoiding these social media mistakes, you’ll reach more new people, and strengthen relationships with your existing families. And those are results that you’re sure to “like.”

What is the most helpful point for you in this post?  Would love to hear your comments or click on the “like” button if this post is helpful to you!

Comments on: "What to Avoid in Social Media" (6)

  1. Thanks for sharing this Carolyn! Great tips!

  2. Cherryl Sagan said:

    Facebook can be a good conduit between what’s happening at the parish and the parish community – especially the younger crowd. My daughter set up a Facebook page a couple of years ago in preparation for our Centennial Celebrations. We held many events in anticipation of the concluding Centennial Mass on the feast of our patron, St. Gerard Majella, October 16, 2011, and they were not only posted on Facebook, but instead of commercializing these events to the community, she issued invitations to take part in the different celebrations. It worked beautifully.

  3. I have learned that, while trying the new social media, I cannot neglect the old social media such as e-mail lists, e-newsletters, and USPS. I must make sure that these older approaches have pointers to the new initiatives. And I must go from static to interactive in my approach to my program web page with Polldaddy, embedded video, etc.

  4. Cheryl, What a wonderful example! Frank reminds us that we are now in a blended format where traditional and new media are part of our everyday lives!

  5. I definitely agree with not sounding like a commercial – no one goes onto Facebook to be advertised to. However, I don’t think “passing off the responsibility to an intern” is a bad idea. Most interns nowadays grew up with social media and know its ins and outs. They’ve learned how to write for the Internet and social media in particular. As long as they know your business, I think giving them this responsibility is a great idea.

    Best,
    Bridget

    • Hi Bridget, I totally agree with your qualification “As long as they know your business” an intern can be a great support in the area of social media. The audience this blog is addressing is parish catechetical ministry. I also read in your blog that you have been looking for a PR internship. Have you considered approaching a church pastor and volunteering as an intern for the church? Young people with your interests and talents are needed in ministry…especially in assisting parish ministers in using social media in how they communicate in today’s Digital World.

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