More than three years ago, I set out on a quest — an ‘unexpected journey’ (I just saw The Hobbit) — to get my new employers and co-workers on-board with social media. They’d been introduced by my predecessor (who later became my husband). While the ministry had a Facebook page, a Twitter account, and a blog, the staff seemed quite confused by everything.
Today, my coworkers approach me with ideas for our digital outreach. It’s been a beautiful journey.
The entire process can’t be described in a single blog entry. Further, I’m a strong believer that no two ministries should approach their social media outreach by the same route. Sure, there are best practices and inspiring examples. But just as no two people are alike, so a good communicator knows, no two people will tackle a new project the same way. No two people will perceive a message in the same way. No two ministries should approach their social media outreach in the same way.
Outreach. For sure, any apostolate or parish should see its social media presence as an outreach ministry. Social media are not the parish bulletin – an item distributed en masse. Rather, social media are two-way conversation channels. They’re those precious wells in the desert.
That’s the key to getting your fellow lay or clerical ministers on-board with social media: Know your audience. Speak their language. Why are these people in ministry? They want to touch people’s lives. They want to serve the Lord. They want to be God’s loving presence to others. You must introduce social media tools in that language.
When I gave our evangelization apostolate’s staff a workshop, I tailor-made it for them. Some points:
- I began by examining our mission statement.
- We reviewed excerpts from Church documents on evangelization and on media.
- We read the story of the Samaritan woman.
These stages of the workshop brought everyone together, and reminded them why they love their jobs. Each piece also reminded them of their own personal calling to evangelize. Finally, we reviewed that lesson from the Greatest Evangelizer – the Lord.
This — all before I even uttered “Facebook” or “blog.” I approached them in familiar territory. I spoke their language. The documents united them. They were re-energized by this divine mission. Then, united and zealous, they learned that social media are our modern “wells in the desert.” I would translate each tool and term into ministry language. We took frequent stops for questions and clarifications. As in The Hobbit, no one was left behind! We traveled as a team.
If you’re interested in delving further into the process, let me know!
This blog is to serve.