HOW TO: Use Social Media to Boost Your Youth Ministry

in Social Media / 22 May 2017

Today’s young adults have 24/7 access to the Internet, with 56% of teens going online several times a day. This makes social media one of the best tools that churches like yours have to engage the present digital generation.

In this blog post, we will look at eight tips that will certainly help your church use social media to boost its youth ministry.

youth-ministry-social-media-ideas1. IDENTIFY THE SOCIAL MEDIA HABITS OF YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE

The first step to using social media strategically for your youth ministry is to identify the latest social media trends among your target audience. So, start by asking the youth in your church a few questions such as:

  • “What are your favourite and least favourite social media networks and why?”
  • “How would you like to stay connected with each other and the youth leaders during the week on social media?”
  • “What kind of content would you like to see on the church social media pages that would catch your attention?”
  • “How would you like the youth leader to use social media during youth Bible study and activities?”

Getting answers to these questions will give you insights into the social media habits of the youngsters that you’re targeting. This key information will help your church social media team and youth leaders use social media wisely and fruitfully for your youth ministry.

2. CREATE A SOCIAL MEDIA STRATEGY

Once you know how your target audience spends its time on social media, the next step is to use this key data to craft a social media strategy. Start by thinking about the primary goal(s) of your social media marketing efforts.

Perhaps you are looking to connect with unchurched youngsters. Or, you might be hoping to use social media to engage with your church’s youth in a more intentional and relevant way. Identifying the key objectives of your social media efforts will help you move forward in an efficient manner.

Remember to create specific, realistic and measurable goals for your social media campaigns. For example, a goal such as invite 200 youngsters to camp in October, 2017 is a much clearer than get more teens to attend our youth camp.

Once you have zeroed in on your social media goals, you can create and curate content that will help you move towards those objectives. Remember to use a social media calendar to stay on track with your publishing schedules. You can either create a simple calendar on an excel sheet or use this online template. You can read more about creating a social media strategy here.

3. START CREATING A BUZZ ONLINE

If your youth ministry wants to attract the attention of today’s youngsters, it needs to build its social media presence. Creating a buzz around your events and programmes is a great way to draw attention to your youth ministry and activities. Here are a few ideas for inspiration:

A. CREATE FACEBOOK EVENTS:

It’s a good idea to set up Facebook event pages for different youth events and programmes. Event pages make it easy to share all event details, interact with invitees and streamline promotions. In addition, they enable people to invite their friends to events instantly. You can read more about using Facebook to boost attendance at your church events here.

B. TAKE TO TWITTER:

Encourage your youth group members to start tweeting about upcoming events. Remind them to include your church’s Twitter handle when doing so. Moreover, consider creating a unique hashtag for each event and remember to include it in all related tweets.

In addition, live-tweeting photos, quotes and updates during events is a great way to generate awareness about your youth ministry events and activities. In fact, Rev. Jim Liberatore from St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, Texas, encouraged his church’s youth to live-tweet pictures and comments during church services in a bid to engage them in evangelism. 

C. MAKE AND SHARE VIDEOS:

Given that video content sees the maximum engagement on social media, it is a great idea to create and share event promos, behind-the-scene videos and other short clips on your social media channels. Moreover, the youth in your church will surely enjoy recording and posting such videos.

Here are a few video formats that you can use for creating eye-catching videos:

  • GIF: This is one of the most trending formats on social media. A GIF would be ideal if you’re looking to post something light and humorous.
  • Kinetic typography: This effective form of editing brings audio and text together like never before. Take a look at how this tool helped highlight text from one of J.D. Greear’s sermon.
  • Dubsmash: This is another creative and entertaining way to engage the youth. Get your youth group to ‘dubsmash’ together – it will not only give everyone a good laugh, but also reflect that church can be fun.
D. START VLOGGING:

Considering that video is currently the most captivating form of communication, vlogs (video blogs) have emerged as the latest trend in the online space. In fact, research indicates that vlogs reach 50% of those between the ages of 16 to 34. 

It’s no wonder that the digital team at Refuge Point Church took to vlogging to connect with the youth in their church and community. Check out the church’s vlogging channel TheChurchVlog for inspiration.

4. STAY CONNECTED

Social media can tell your youth leaders a lot about the individuals in their youth groups. Your leaders might find many opportunities to address underlying issues or struggles if they see anything alarming or inappropriate on the social media pages of these youngsters.

Connecting with your church’s youth on social media will also enable your youth leaders to build relationships that extend beyond bi-weekly interactions. Your leaders can like posts, comment with encouraging words and stay updated about what is going on in the lives of these youngsters outside of church.

Likewise, the youngsters in your youth ministry will also get an opportunity to watch the lives of their leaders via social media. This is a great chance for your youth leaders to exemplify what living out faith looks like. For example, Pastor Carl Lentz shares snippets of his everyday life on Instagram to encourage and inspire his “followers”. Here’s one thought-provoking post from his Instagram page:

What’s ironic about using a “black and white” filter on a photo, is that you can’t really tell who’s black, and whose white..ironic.. Last night we had a meeting w/ some faithful leaders in our church, who are mostly black, to begin what will be an ongoing discussion on progressive diversity..We talked about things that were very frustrating/sad/uncomfortable and vulnerable.. Things like how it feels to be black in America right now. I also asked how it feels to be black, and a faithful part of @hillsongnyc …all I can say, is that I’m glad to be a part of a church and community that is a work in progress and discontented w/ status culture quo..I would encourage anybody who cares about people, to somehow find a way to hear voices of those that don’t share your journey. It will impact you. And times are as urgent as they have ever been… What’s cool to me?? I don’t see this photo and think about color. I see this photo and I think about family.. #occupyallstreets also.. Shout out to Corey Robinson who declared “I LOVE EVERYTHING ABOUT BEING BLACK! EVERYTHING!” Haha i cannot relate, but you totally convinced me..see you at exchange tonight @hillsongnyc

A post shared by Carl Lentz (@carllentz) on

It is also a good idea to create a private group on Facebook with the youth, volunteers and youth leaders as members. This will serve as a quick and secure platform to stay connected throughout the week, start discussions, share prayer requests and keep each other accountable.

5. INCORPORATE SOCIAL MEDIA INTO YOUR BIBLE STUDY

You can start by posting the topic of discussion for the week’s Bible study on your youth ministry’s Facebook group. You can then post related quotes, Bible verses and thought-provoking questions for your youth group to review during the week.

It might be a good idea to get your youth group to install a Bible app, such as the one by YouVersion, which will let them share verses with each other as well as on social media.

6. PROVIDE A CHRISTIAN PERSPECTIVE ON TRENDING AFFAIRS

Check out the “trending” topics on Facebook and Twitter and discuss them during your youth meetings and on your Facebook group. This will provide a great opportunity for you to share a Christian viewpoint on everyday news and issues. In fact, research suggests that 4 out of 10 millennials participate in discussions about faith online.

Hashtags are another trend on social media that you can leverage. Consider asking your youth group to share their thoughts on a few trending hashtags about world affairs and social issues in your youth meetings.

That’s not all! Hashtags can also help your youth leaders connect with others in need. For example, browsing hashtags such as #anxiety, #suicidal and #scars can help them get in touch with, and minister to, people who are battling with these issues. In fact, Online Campus Pastor Tom Pounder looks out for hashtags “as a way to reach out to those looking for answers”.

7. CREATE AND CURATE SHARE-WORTHY RESOURCES

Remember that young users like to engage with smartly designed, sharp content online. Therefore, it is key that you design posts that your church’s youth would find appealing and worth sharing with their friends. Short videos, collages and well-designed posts work best! Here are a few online tools that can help you design striking posts for social media.

More importantly, remember to be authentic in your posts! Many churches make the mistake of trying to be too ‘cool’ to attract the youth. However, this only turns them away. “Millennials don’t like to be programmed to. They can hear honesty. They have a radar for that,” says Pastor Brian Coffey.

8. NETWORK WITH YOUTH MINISTRY GROUPS

Equipping and encouraging your youth leaders and volunteers is equally key for the advancement of your youth ministry. So, how can social media help and strengthen your youth ministry leaders? Here are two tips to help you with that:

A. SHARE VALUABLE RESOURCES:

Tons of great blogs, articles and resources for youth ministries are available online. It’s a great idea to designate one or two volunteers to find and share relevant resources with your youth leadership team on social media.

B. CONNECT WITH OTHER YOUTH MINISTRIES:

Social media will allow your youth leaders to connect and network with other youth ministry groups online. They can join Facebook groups such as this one for youth pastors or follow Facebook pages and Twitter handles of other youth ministries. Engaging with other like-minded youth leaders and groups will be a great way to get new ideas and encouragement.  

We hope that these eight tips help you level up your church’s youth ministry. What are the other ways in which you can maximise social media for your youth ministry? Leave a comment to let us know!

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