Use of Social Media

Introduction

I wrote this after listening to a Divine Renovation Podcast called “Social Media Missionary”. This podcast can be accessed at https://www.divinerenovation.tv/programs/social-media-missionary-w-mike-tanner  I thought it would be good to share my knowledge after listening to it.

The phrase “Social Media” has many definitions, one of the better ones is defined as “Forms of electronic communication through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content”.

Social Media is a way of extending outreach to reach people wherever they are and whenever they want. You can communicate your vision throughout the week and not just on Sunday. This short paper sets out to inform you about Social Media and how you might consider using it.

Websites

The parish website has been around for a while. In recent times it’s described as the new front door of the parish with people checking you out online to find out about the parish. The website should give a good first impression.

The website needs to be regularly updated with what’s going on, mass times, and the weekly newsletter. Popular items need to be easily accessible without needing to click and scroll. Typically it takes 5 minutes assuming the content being available.

The website also needs to be mobile friendly as more people access the internet using mobile devices.

In addition, websites can exist at Deanery level offering smaller churches an online presence. There are several Deanery websites in existence, these include Coventry (https://coventry-catholicdeanery.org.uk) , Warwick, Rugby and Dudley. These are all mobile friendly. They have summary information on the parishes/churches, what’s going on, and the weekly parish newsletters.

Newsletter / Bulletin

Traditionally the source of communication has been the weekly paper newsletter / bulletin and it’s often made available on the parish website. Lately this is also distributed by email reducing what needs to be printed.

There are a number of platforms available that can help with the distribution of a mobile friendly version. One of these is Mailchimp. This enables templates to be easily created, users to be easily added to the email distribution list.  Mailchimp also offers benefits in that it integrates with other social media platforms such as facebook, twitter and Instagram. It is also GDPR compliant.

Social Media Platforms

There are 3 major platforms to consider using.

Facebook

Facebook has been around since 2006 to everyone aged 13 and older with a valid e-mail address.  A number of parishes have found that it is much easier to connect to the through a Facebook page than through a traditional website. Like a website, the Facebook page is an efficient way of disseminating information for a congregation, but it adds the social interaction features that promote community. There are more people over 55 are on Facebook than under 24!!

Twitter

Launched in 2006 Twitter is an online news and social networking service on which users post and interact with messages known as “tweets”. Tweets are restricted to 280 characters. Tweets can be automated.

Twitter is where people let loose and talk to strangers, drop one-liners (or pick-up lines), and engage with personalities from all walks of life. Twitter is the only social network where brands and consumers have an even playing field and unrestricted lines of clear, concise communication. According to Twitter, the following elements are what fuels engagement on their platform: Photos, Hashtags, Links, Videos, Facts & Figures.

Instagram

Launched in October 2010, Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social networking service owned by Facebook. It has grown into the ultimate platform for sharing photos. It allows users to upload photos and videos to the service. Users can browse other users’ content by tags and locations, and view trending content. Users can “like” photos, and follow other users to add their content to a feed .Instagram has a much younger demographic.

You need to post the right kind of content to stay relevant to current followers while also bringing in new ones.

Other forms of Outreach

Flickr.  A real favourite of mine allowing photographs to be easily uploaded and viewed. Flickr provides an image hosting service. It easily integrates well into websites. See link for an example.

YouTube. For those that want to try video, consider a regular vlog. A good example is Catholic theologian and author Bishop Robert Barron. The videos complement his weekly sermons posted and podcasted at WordOnFire.org. https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=bishop+robert+barron

Live streaming. Live streaming is gaining in popularity and enables people to remotely watch church services such as daily mass, weddings, baptisms, and funerals. This is primarily intended for those who cannot physically attend for many reasons. This may be due to being unwell, cannot get there in time, too old to travel. An example can be found at https://www.mcnmedia.tv/camera/christ-the-king-church-coventry

Podcasts. A podcast is an audio file that a user can download to listen. A good example is Pray as you Go website https://pray-as-you-go.org/  they also have an App. You could make your sermon available to listen to.

Apps. An App is a type of software that allows you to perform specific tasks. Applications for desktop or laptop computers are sometimes called desktop applications, while those for mobile devices are called mobile apps. An example can be found at https://coventry-catholicdeanery.org.uk/new/coventry-catholic-deanery-have-a-mobile-app/

World Communications Day

Did you that there is also a World Communications day and the Pope issues a message to coincide? The Pope’s Message for World Day of Social Communications 2019 was released From the Vatican, 24 January 2019. https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2019-01/pope-s-msge-for-world-day-of-social-communications-2019-released.html

This year the Catholic Church celebrates World Communications Day on Sunday 2 June 2019 when we are asked to pray for those who work in the media. http://www.catholicnews.org.uk/wcd19

Finally

I hope this has been of use. Please email any questions you may have.

As mentioned I wrote this after listening to a Podcast called “Social Media Missionary….” Another interesting podcast is “From Street to Seat” https://www.divinerenovation.tv/programs/inviting-a-mystery-guest-w-melanie-smollen

Con McHugh  con.mchugh@gmail.com

Lasted updated 15th July 2019.