Using Social Media in Ministry – Part 1 of 3

“Media is an instrument on communication, like a newspaper or a radio, so social media would be a social instrument of communication.”

Daniel Nations

Social media. We’ve all heard about.  Many of us use it regularly.  How can “social media” impact your ministry (we’re talking upper grades and parents)?

Let’s start with a definition.  These abound, but basically, “social media” is an electronic or digital conversation – people talking to people and others talking back.  These conversations have a huge impact on what people buy, where they go, what they think and how they act.

“Social media” falls into five basic categories:

  1. Social Sharing such as: blogs, flickr, videos, photos, YouTube and the like.
  2. Social Networks where people meet other people, make friends or “followers” and dialogue on a certain subject or item of interest.  These “social utilities” allow users to connect with friends and others who work, study and live around them.  Examples: Facebook, Twitter, Hi5, MySpace, and Last.FM
  3. Social News: Digg, Propeller, Reddit. Users interact by voting for articles and commenting on them.  They discover and share content from anywhere on the web.
  4. Social Bookmarking: Users interact by tagging websites and searching through websites bookmarked by other people.  Examples: Del.icio.us, Blinklist, Simpy, FURL and StumbleUpon.
  5. Social Knowledge: Wikipedia or Yahoo! Answers, for example.  These are places where groups of people get together to share their expertise or knowledge in a certain area.  Others ask questions and receive responses from a huge community with a large reservoir of input.

Other technologies include: picture-sharing, vlogs, wall-postings, email, instant messaging, Internet forums, weblogs, social blogs, wikis, podcasts, music-sharing, crowdsourcing, and voice over IP, to name a few.

Whew!  Enough to make your head spin, isn’t it?

“Do I have to master all this stuff to be an effective Children’s or Youth Minister?”

Tools – Not the Whole Tamale

Relax.  The short answer is: “No.”  Nothing – repeat, nothing – takes the place of initiating, cultivating and nurturing interpersonal relationships and one-on-one communication with parents, kids, and staff, in the flesh. This is also known as “face time.” Neither the tangiest tweet nor the most fabulous FB fan page can take the place of being there, in person.

Understanding this, social media can help you communicate and share your vision, passion, events and energy to the folks with whom you minister!  Social media are tools, not the whole tamale.  So, how can you put social media to work to increase the visibility of your ministry and enhance communication within your church or organization?

Stay tuned.

Also see:

How You Can Maximize Your Social Media  in 15 Minutes per Day

How to Become a Social Media Expert

10 Ways to Build Your Social Media Clout

5 Ways to Get Un-Followed on Twitter

7 Things You Shouldn’t Do on Facebook


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