A few years ago, it would have been considered “cutting edge” for a parish to be using social media, but now everyone is doing it. So the question isn’t should parishes be using social media, but how can they use it with intentionality to support their ministry goals. Before a minister or parish committee member even sets up a Twitter account, Facebook page, or blog for the parish, they need to discern what it is they are trying to accomplish with these new media tools.
In “The Priest and Pastoral Ministry in a Digital World: New Media at the Service of the Word,” Pope Benedict XVI outlined the importance of social media and the need for priests and lay people to adapt to this cultural shift. Using excerpts from the pope’s letter as a framework, this article lays out three basic steps for creating a social media strategy for a parish or ministry organization:
- Define your goals
- Meet your audience
- Build your content
Nothing we haven't heard before, but a good consideration for every parish and Catholic organization: what is your strategy for online communications (even more broad than simply social media use... you should also consider traditional email marketing, and website content management)?
Of course, I must contest the point that 'everybody's doing it' when it comes to parishes and social media... fully 66% of churches don't use social media—and that's all Christians. Catholic churches, I'm sure, would see a smaller minority using social media.
I think the battle still needs to be fought over whether or not a parish should be using social media... not how they should use it (just yet ;-). Many priests and parish councils simply see no need for it at this point.