Saturday, July 16, 2011

Getting Started with Church Social Media

People are saying: "Ok, we get it that we need to use social media at our church." Clergy are asking: "How are we supposed to use social media? I don't get it."

This question came up in our first #chsocm tweetchat last week: how do we teach people how to do this?

My answer was, show and tell. That's what I do -- I sit with people and show them how I do it.

Of course, one of the beauties of our rapidly-growing #chsocm community is that we are all over the country -- all over the world! But that also means we can't physically sit with one another.  But we can do so virtually.  Here's the basic format I use when working with church communicators who want to start using social media. My counsel:
First, sign up.  Get an account, fill out your profile, start following or "friending" people. Friend me! You don't even have to post yet.  In fact, don't post for a while.  Watch what others do and learn from them. Find people or organizations to follow and watch what they do.  Are you clergy? Follow other clergy. Diocesan staff?  Follow other dioceses. And so forth...

How to find people to follow?  Look through other people's friend/follow lists, ask friends for suggestions. "Like" church fan pages on Facebook (you don't have to "ask" to be friends when you "like" a fan page) and watch what they do.

Soon enough you'll be getting your own ideas.  Yes, I like this; don't think I'll do that. Expand your circle to include more than just peers. Follow laypeople, too.  Keep watching, ask questions, and get comfortable with the territory and then, interact!
Other topics we might consider during our weekly chat: starting a fan page for your church or a specific ministry; providing pastoral ministry via Facebook; using Twitter to find interesting content to share. I'll be posting more about these topics on those as we go along.

What other social media topics would you like to see covered here?

1 comment:

Meredith Gould said...

When clergy -- or anyone -- says, "I don't get it," I like to start by exploring what they don't "get."

If the technology is generating technophobia, that's one thing. If it's that they don't get what's involved with creating community, it's quite another.

As a sociologist, educator/trainer, and person of faith, I like to work with church and other faith-based organization folks on the core issue of community. I view this as something that provides a framework for understanding ("getting") why it's called social media. Depending on the group, this can take hours and is, of course, an ongoing conversation.

Relative to the technology, I agree that people just need to play with it. I've come to believe that digital technologies cannot be taught without hands-on training and tinkering.

At the same time, I urge people to horse around with a personal account long before doing anything formal and certainly long before setting up anything for their organization/church.

I get pretty fierce about having a strategy in place before leaping into social media. I routinely tell people, "know why you're setting out on the journey before you arrive."

I've also been known to counsel against setting up certain types social media accounts, but maybe I'll write a post about that!