Leveraging Social Media to Connect with Parents
You did it. You survived another Sunday. For those of you who lead a ministry, your tendency is to probably focus on Sunday, right? Of course it is, and why wouldn’t you? That’s where you have the opportunity to connect with families. You have a chance to help kids connect with a small group leader who will not only teach them God’s truths but help them apply these truths to their lives. Sunday is the big show and come Monday morning, the clock starts all over again as you prepare to recruit more volunteers, prepare lessons, and make sure the Goldfish are restocked.
But what if you changed your mindset a little. If you truly believe in the importance of partnering with parents—that what happens during the week is more important than what happens on Sunday—then you need to find a better strategy. A strategy that makes the most of the time parents have with their kids.
Did you know that in a given year a small group leader spends approximately 40 hours a year with a child? Of course that takes into account holidays, sick days, and vacations. Want to know how many parents have? 3,000. And that takes into account an 8-hour workday and 8 hours of sleep … if you’re lucky. When you compare those two numbers it helps us realize the importance of leveraging the hours that parents have with their kids.
How do you keep the conversations that happen on Sunday going all week long? Well, for some it means passing out a paper at the end of service in hopes that it doesn’t end up as a paper airplane or lost in the car along with last week’s homework. And what about the families that only make it to church once or twice a month? I know you would love to believe that your families come EVERY Sunday, but they don’t.
Here are a few things to consider when helping your families make the most out of their Monday through Saturdays!
Know where they are spending time.
The best way to communicate with your parents is to have a presence where they are already spending their time. Not sure where that is? Let’s look at some recent stats.
According to Marketing Sherpa, email is still working! 72 percent of adults, ages 18-54 prefer to communicate to companies through email. I know what you’re thinking, “Got it, email! Done and done!” Nope, not at all! While a large majority of adults may prefer email, that shouldn’t be your only source of communication.
Remember that age-old rule? It takes reading something seven times to remember it. If you think you have one of the most important messages to communicate to parents, maybe you should try putting it in more than one place!
Let’s look at a few more stats as it relates to social media. Did you know that as of 2015, 154 million people are social network users? Of those 154 million here’s the breakdown by age.
Ages 18-24 — 28.3 million
Ages 25-34 — 35.3 million
Ages 35-44 — 29.7 million
Ages 45-54 — 26.4 million
Ages 55-64 — 19.7 million
Ages 65+ — 14.6 million
Now, let’s take a look at a few of the most popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.
- Facebook is MOST popular among people ages 25-34 and is declining for people ages 18-24.
- Twitter is MOST popular among people ages 18-24, followed closely by people ages 35-44.
- Pinterest is MOST popular for people ages 25-34, followed by people ages 45-54.
- Instagram currently has 60.3 million users, 27.6 percent are 18-24 and 32.3 percent are ages 35-44.
You can’t ignore the numbers. Use these stats to start creating your plan. What age groups do the parents in your ministry fall within? What age groups do your small group leaders fall within? Are you communicating with them in a way they are most likely to respond?
Parents are looking for help!
Not only are parents on social media, but parents are on there to look for help with their parenting. According to the PewResearch Center …
“59 percent of social-media-using parents indicate that they have come across useful information specifically about parenting in the last 30 days while looking at other social media content. Mothers are particularly likely to encounter helpful parenting information—66 percent have done so in the last 30 days, compared with 48 percent of fathers.”
“31 percent of parents who use social media have posed parenting questions to their online networks in the last 30 days. Mothers and fathers are equally likely to do so.”
Parents are on social media, asking questions, wanting advice, and needing support. If the church doesn’t become part of this community, they are missing an opportunity to meet the needs of parents in a real tangible way.
TIPS AND TRICKS!
Here are a few posting ideas for your Facebook page.
- Post about your ministry’s upcoming events, such as worship service times, fundraisers, small groups, volunteer opportunities, and mission trips. Post about what’s happening in your ministry (such as promotion days), what the kids are learning, and special events.
- Ask questions on your page frequently, then use the reply function to respond to those who answer questions. This drives a conversation on your page and inspires engagement. Multiple choice or open-ended questions work well.
- Don’t limit your Facebook posts to just words! Posting pictures and videos to the page attracts more attention.
- Use a picture to introduce a new theme or topic in your kid environments, for a sneak peek of Sunday’s topic, or for any upcoming event.
Here are a few tweet ideas.
- Sum up your main point or bottom line for the coming Sunday.
- Post encouraging quotes or links to interesting articles.
- Remind about upcoming events or trainings.
- Cue parents during the week with topics or questions to ask their kid or student.
Here are a few tips for Instagram.
- Instead of zooming in on the phone, walk closer to your subject.
- Be mindful of lighting and where the shadows fall. Brighter, crisp light makes for sharper photos.
- Try interesting shot angles, but not interesting phone angles. Meaning, keep the phone level horizontal or vertical, rather than askew.
- Remember: Never post a picture of a kid or student without a photo release signed by their parent or guardian.
Here’s a few ideas of what to pin.
- Pin great blog articles and encouraging quotes.
- For younger kids, show SGLs (Small Group Leaders) how to do a tough activity step-by-step and post it here.
- For older kids, any blogs or ideas you find on how to deal with tension or tough conversations would be helpful.
Choose a curriculum that understands the effectiveness of social media, a curriculum that has already developed a plan for you. I recommend subscribing to a resource library called GoWeekly because their team, which I’m part of, has already developed a customizable plan for you with tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images, and more. All you have to do is schedule your posts and you’re done! (Learn more at GoWeekly.com.)
Schedule in advance. There are plenty of options such as HootSuite and Latergram that will help you schedule out all of your posts and tweets.
Keep the conversation going! Don’t just schedule it and forget about it! As your social media presence continues to grow, there will be lots of opportunities to answer questions, retweet, and share posts. The more you interact with your community the stronger it will become.
You have the opportunity to reach the families in your church in ways that go far beyond what happens on Sunday—and in new and fun ways. Creating a communication strategy for your week will change the culture of your ministry and help families remember Sunday all week long.
Sue Miller is a teacher, leader, speaker, and author with a passion for bringing out the best in volunteers. After 17 years as the children’s ministry director at Willow Creek Community Church near Chicago, IL, Sue joined Orange in 2005 to help leaders rethink their church strategy. In addition to her work with the preschool curriculum First Look, she also serves as one of the many voices in GoWeekly, a monthly subscription with a library of resources for church leaders. @SueMiller01