I will be honest; this is one of the harder posts to write. I have never really put into words my strategy for social media for my youth ministry. I can tell you posting just to post won’t get you far. Believe it or not, if you want your students to do more than just scroll past whatever you post and not pay attention, it takes time and intentionality to use social media effectively.
Here are some of my thoughts on how you can use your social media platforms in your ministry:
Don’t do it all – Depending where you are will depend what your ministry will need to do. It is pointless to be on all forms of social media. It takes a lot of work to be able to post as effectively and as regularly as you need to be effective. Talk to students and see what media they and their peers are on, pick two or three of them and dominate those areas. Do those few really well.
Make it stand out – There are plenty of apps out there to make legit looking graphics and posts. Apps like Wordswag, PicLab, and Legend are good buys for a few bucks to make posts really fast and look good. Obviously, if you have the ability to use Photoshop, Illustrator or anything else Adobe, it will only help you put out good, quality publications. For us, I make memes and our students eat it up. It’s something memorable.
Post, post, and post – In order to be truly effective, like most things, you need to do it often. The more you post the more you gain the attention of your students. I don’t have major responsibilities on Sundays since our service is midweek, so I spend some time during services planning out and thinking through what and when I want to post. I usually make all the graphics I need and walk through exactly what I want to communicate. Whatever you do, post often.
Timing is key – You don’t want to post when they are in school. You don’t want to post when you are up late thinking through ministry details. You want to make sure the majority see your post. I always like to post around 3pm right when students get out of school because they check their phones as soon as that bell rings. I also like to post around 8 or 9pm because what do you usually do when you’re lying in bed before you sleep? Scrolling to see what you missed.
Post more than announcements – The common misconception is just to post what you need them to know. Think about how you would engage students at your service. If you only communicated to them what they needed to know, you wouldn’t be effective, why do we think we would get that result on Social media?
- Give announcements
- Do a weekly devo
- Give a behind the scenes look at planning
- Highlight some of your volunteers and their stories
- Give student testimonies of life change
Go for engagement – How do you know if you really are being effective with social media? See how many students engage. Your posts should encourage engagement. Get them to respond to a question. Get them to comment on what you post. Make your posts engage them because you know they are seeing what you post and they are paying attention. It is just another way to connect with our students throughout the week and it gives us more and more buy-in when we see them at our services.
I don’t think we know everything there is to know, but our engagement is getting better and better. If you want to follow us and see what we are doing, feel free:
@shiftstudents on Instagram
@shiftstudents on Twitter
@shift_students on Snapchat
Written By Justin Knowles
Justin Knowles has been a pastor for the last 8 years and is the Lead Student Ministries Pastor at Christ’s Church of the Valley in San Dimas, CA. He oversees 7th-12th grade and has an amazing team that put on midweek services for junior high and high school students. He is passionate about reaching all kinds of students for Jesus, leading teams and writing about his learnings in ministry on the Downloadyouthministry.com blog.