First, find out what’s available. Familiarize yourself with what’s out there. You don’t need to bury yourself or become an expert in social media. Remember, your job focus is kids, not computers! Just get your feet wet so you can make an intelligent decision as to where to dive in, when, why and how often. You might start here. Evaluate. \
Questions to ask may include:
– What do I want to accomplish with this tool? What’s my objective?
– Who’s your target audience? How are they likely to respond?
– What privacy or security issues/concerns are involved? How will they be addressed?
– Will there be any objections or concerns from church leadership? What?
– What kind of education process might be necessary for constituents to “plug into” social media and join the conversation? Is it worthwhile?
– Will people respond?
– Do I have to have a Ph.D in Computer Science to figure this out, or can I pick it up as I go?
– What kind of time investment will using this media require – and do I have it?
– What tools are available to get my message out with the highest degree of efficiency and efficacy? You may be able to create some truly primo backgrounds, tiles, or graphics – but if it takes a zillion hours to learn the HTML, is that a good use of your time? You might consider a minimal investment in pre-made templates instead.
Once you’ve thought through some of these questions – you’ll have your own to add – here are some options for “beefing up” your communication efforts and launching Children’s Ministry into the 21st century (this is the short list. Each situation is unique. Plug in what works best for you, your budget, learning curve, personality, skills, objective and target audience.)
- Blog. Blog is short for “web log”. A blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics, photos, or videos. Blogs can be free or “upgraded” for a fee. Content can be added real-time or scheduled in advance to launch automatically on a pre-determined date and time.
Blogs are a great way to share photos of special events (with parental permission), prayer and praise reports, teacher training resources and tools, devotionals, news and announcements, and your own regular column. Unlike a static web site, blogs have a comment capability offering two-way dialogue. Readers can comment on your posts, ask questions and so on, and you can respond. You can also add links, connect with other C.M. professionals and share encouragement, ideas, strategies, brainstorming sessions, resources and expertise.
When it comes to blogging, think Big Three: 1) Creativity 2) Personality – use your own voice, personality and style rather than trying to copy someone else 3) Positive. Also, be sure to update frequently – at least once a week. Finally, think Hallmark and care “enough to send the very best.”
Once you’ve got your Children’s Ministries blog up and running, be sure to include RSS Feeds so readers can click for a list of the most recent blog posts and a few sentences of each one. Folks can subscribe to receive this list (called a “feed” or choose the “email subscription” service available at WordPress. This is great if you follow several blogs and want to stay up on their latest content without actually visiting each blog.
We’ll visit a few of the most popular and user-friendly social media options for ministry next time.
See ya soon!