Welcome to The Religion Teacher! I’ve posted the following resources and comments to help assist parish leaders with the planning and implementation of social media strategies as a part of parish outreach.
An Overview of Social Media
I consider there to be three pillars of effective use of social media: content, community, and conversion. You must provide quality content on your website and social media outposts in order to draw people into the great work that you are doing. You must use the tools below to build community and develop relationships with people online within the various social media channels. And most importantly, you must convert online connections to personal interactions at liturgies, parish social events, classes, etc. If you build your social media strategy around these three pillars, you will have great success.
Upgrade Your Church Websites
First things first: your parish’s website is crucial. If your website is sub-par, then social media campaigns and social networking sites will not help promote your programs and increase attendance on Sundays. With the relative ease of creating website using WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal, you should be able to find someone in the diocese to do some work for hire. I have all the skills necessary to create a parish website and I’ve never taken a course in web development. Or consider using some individuals and companies out there who are developing websites specifically for Catholic parishes. In addition, hosting your website is very inexpensive. I recommend and use Bluehost, which is only $6.95 per month. These things are worth the investment.
The Ultimate Guide to Building a Church Website (FaithandFinances.org)
Open Source Catholic Blog (Open Source Catholic)
Catholic Tech Talk Tips (Catholic Tech Talk)
The Parish and Social Media Tools
Social Media Strategies can often be too closely associated simply with the tools. Blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and even e-mail are just tools that help you build relationships with people online. Use these tools to share valuable content that will build community and convert people to physical presence at parish events.
Originally a blog was an online journal. The name was taken from a combination of the words web and blog to create weblog. This was later shortened to just blog. Today a blog is a way to create valuable content that will attract certain like-minded people. It is a powerful tool to spread ideas. Parishes can use a blog to post relevant information about upcoming events, feast days, homilies, and many more creative ideas.
How to Blog: Blogging Tips for Beginners (Problogger)
What is a blog? What is a blogger? What is blogging? (Tentblogger)
When people think of social media, they quickly jump to the social network, Facebook. With so many people in the world on Facebook, it is hard not to think parishes can reach out to Catholics and draw them into the Church. The opportunities are there as long as you have the people and your goals in mind when you are promoting your parish’s events.
A Facebook Advertising Experiment (Jonathan Sullivan, Catholic Tech Talk)
How to Design and Program a Facebook Landing Paged–Advanced (Mashable)
How to Create a Facebook Page and Landing Page–Updated (Smart Passive Income)
Twitter is probably the most misunderstood social network. The ability to communicate with anyone in a direct and enormously public way is extremely powerful. I have developed some very important relationships using Twitter as a networking tool. However, you are not likely to engage the members of your parish using this social network. The best introduction might be a conversation I had on the Catechetical Leader Podcast (listen here).
The Twitter Gang (The Catechetical Leader Podcast)
Twitter for Ministry? (Sr. Susan Wolf, Catholic Web Solutions)
Whenever you register people in your parish, you must get their e-mail addresses. If they are interested, you can use some great tools to communicate with parishoners and potential parishoners in strategic ways. My favorite is MailChimp. MailChimp allows you to store a list of contacts and e-mail them with quality emails and links to important events on your website. It allows you to track how many people opened the e-mail and how successful you were in promoting parish events. They offer a great free e-book for Churches to use as an introduction to using their service. (By the way, it is free for up to 1,000 contacts so it is worth trying out.)
MailChimp for Churches e-book (MailChimp)
Church Documents on Social Media
USCCB Social Media Guidelines (USCCB.org)
Social Media: Friend or Foe, Google or Hornswoggle? (USCCB.org)
I am available as a consultant for social media and web questions. Just send me a note on the contact page of this site with a statement of your needs and we can schedule a consulting session.