Take a look at what Tom Pounder has to say about Social Media communication. I think he’s got some great ideas, but not just for Student Ministry, for overall communication in general. What do you think? ~David Lyons, Founder MinisterSearch
Be Leaders In Social Media
By Tom Pounder
Doing Middle School Ministry looks a lot different today than it did when I first started full-time ministry back in 1997. In all honesty, any ministry that we were doing back in 1997 will probably look different than it does today, almost 20 years later. If we didn’t change and adapt to 2015, we would probably be failing in those areas.
But let’s be honest, many of us are still stuck in some of our old tactics for reaching people, no matter what our ministry is. That is why we need to change what we are doing. This is especially true in how we use Social Media.
If we want to be successful at reaching people today, we have to be Leaders in Social Media. Specifically, we need to use social media to communicate and build community.
Communication is one of the key ingredients of effective ministry. After all, how will anyone ever know anything about your ministry unless you are telling them? But it is not just about what you communication. It is becoming more and more about how and where you communicate.
For instance, getting information on Facebook and your website is increasingly important. Despite suggestions that people are migrating away from Facebook, the social network is actually growing in popularity. Moms absolutely LOVE Facebook and adults still love to go to websites to get information.
But what has changed significantly over the past 5 years is the way we communicate with teens, young adults and young married couples. Communication to millennials these days is best through social media. If you want to reach this new generation, you need to be on these social networks…at least.
- Twitter (more and more popular)
- Text (yes even Text is important).
But even with these forms of communication, communicating to them is not just the only thing here. It is the way you communicate with them that is important. You have to be creative. In a world of short, witty video clips or creative pictures, teens and millennials are doing so much because they have these tools at their fingertips.
That is why how you communicate is equally important to what you communicate. You do have you be creative in your postings. Years ago, just typing in what you are doing and giving the details was good enough. Now you need more than that.
You need images or videos that tell the story. I know, I know…you think you aren’t creative at all. That may be true, but even if you are like me and don’t have a creative bone in your body, there are Apps for that. Apps like…
- Word Swag
These are all easy apps to get to know and that you can use to help tell the story and engage people.
It’s important to use social media for more than just communication though.
Use Social Media to Build community
The parachurch ministry, Young Life, has a saying in regards to contact work. They say that in order to reach teens you need to “go where kids are”. Well, if you want to know where kids and millennials are now, they are on their phones checking status updates, tweets and pictures. Seriously, that is where they are.
This may be hard for us to comprehend because we didn’t have smartphones or smart devices growing up. Back in the day, we built friendship and community the old fashion way, by actually engaging with people face to face or over the home phone….remember calling that girl or boy you liked and their parents answered the phone? So awkward.
Now, people communicate on their own personal phones on their own personal account on social media channels. They are using their smart devices to build community online. People do not talk on the phone as much as they used to. Instead, they are texting, tweeting, making videos then sharing them with the world. And the world responds.
How are people building community online other than the normal social media channels?
- Online Gaming. Cory, our High School Director, plays games with students all the time with games like Trivia Crack. Although this may seem “juvenile” to some, the average gamer is
- Online Church. Every service we broadcast we have a Chat Room. In the room people can engage each other and talk and there is a Chat Host or 2 that helps drive conversation. The one thing I started noticing is that the regular chatters would come on and say hello and people were responding as if they had just wanted into the room. Even though many of the people have never seen each other in this chat room they are building friendships.
- Online Life Group. I used the Online Church and the new friendships I was building through the chat room to start an Online Life Group. This is a group in which we meet weekly with people all throughout the world sharing their thoughts and insights as we go through life together.
In today’s world, social media is a powerful tool…an ever changing tool. But if we want to reach the next generation of people, we have to be Leaders in Social Media.
Tom Pounder encourages Youth & Family ministry leaders with practical tools and knowledge to build a ministry that will have a lasting impact on generations to come.