“You have no choice,” stated Rev. Sadie Stone from Bethany United Methodist church in San Francisco. Stone was the guest speaker for the California Nevada UMC Wednesday Webinar on July 8th, 2020. “You must embrace social media in your ministry.”
“This is something you should learn to love-- whether or not you actually do, you should just pretend that you do.” stated Stone who used a “slide deck” (akin to a PowerPoint or slide show presentation) to discuss the ‘what’s and ‘how’s of social media. She asked participants to think about how to coincide social media with ministry.
“Use what works—you know your people best,” stated Stone who encouraged churches to consider their church and community needs in particular. Those with younger participants or desire to reach younger ages may use TikTok to advertise an event. Those with older members may need to use email and Facebook to contact constituents. “It’s all contextual.”
The overall point of social media, as Stone explained, “is to display content (words, pictures or videos) to engage people in some sort of way.”
There are four basic types of social media types or platforms. Facebook is primarily a social platform. There are platforms used for ‘micro blogging’ or transmitting news information such as Twitter. Snapchat, Instagram and Pinterest are used for sharing photos. Video sharing platforms include YouTube, Facebook Live and TikTok.
“Share who you are and the work that you are doing,” stated Stone. To decide on specific content, Stone asked churches to create a team. Churches can assign people to ‘document’ activities by taking pictures, videos and interviewing individuals.
Short, one-minute long video clips can be used on Instagram and Twitter. Longer videos clips can be used on Facebook and YouTube. Each of these platforms can be linked to church webpages. All of the platforms can be linked so that posting to one will be transmitted simultaneously to the others.
Stone noted that templates to assist in creating posts can be found for free at canva.com. The site contains templates for each social media platform and include ideas for different holidays and events.
Not only does social media assists churches in connecting people within the church, explained Stone, it also helps in networking with community organizations and beyond. During COVID-19, Bethany UMC created new networking relationships with community organizations assisting with the unhoused population in San Francisco by using social media.
“Hash tags have a purpose,” stated Stone who went on to discuss the importance of using hashtags (#) to help people find links to their church’s social media. An example Stone highlighted was during General Conference when participants were able to sustain discussion groups by adding hash tags to their social media posts.
Other topics Stone covered included privacy wavers, account security and adding memes as a clever way to add humor to social media and attract attention.
For more details on this and other webinars, go to cnumc.org.