This advent, the C3 project team implemented a variety of measures integrating technology into advent activities in the parish community and as a region. The biggest accomplish, which was also the number one objective for this part of the pilot, which was to create the foundations needed for an effective social media outreach. Each parish identified a social media coordinator and they were responsible for pushing out content to each community. Through training and coaching by Elaine Menardi, Social Media Expert the parishes learned new apps and tools for organizing their content. She also shared with them a simple scheduling tool in Excel format. The social media coordinators who hadn’t used HootSuite before were coached on setting it up and using it to plan, organize, and distribute the advent specific content to parishioners of all ages. I think the experience gained in Advent will help the parish.
Curated Advent Content: The regional staff and intern searched and identified a variety of social media content, including YouTube videos, daily prayer resources, blogs and items for spiritual reflection, etc. One thing we learned in doing is that while content can be found in advance of a church season there is content constantly being generated so we should have had someone continuing to seek out the new content and push it out to the social media coordinators. We treated the content as a static reality instead of an evolving one. Also, we learned that we needed to be sure that in curating content you check out the links on the
#AdventOn, Using Facebook with Teens: The Confirmation Coordinators, Youth Ministry Leaders, and the Social Media Coordinators from the three parishes collaborated on a project called #AdventOn. We developed four themes for each week with their own hash tags. Each parish and the regional office took a week and did a short video introducing the theme. Primarily we used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to push out links related to the weekly hash tag. We found general engagement difficult and hard to measure. Also, we found that some parents were actually engaged more than their teens. Were the young people just viewing it the content share social medai, but not adding to the conversation going on by liking it, or retweeting/sharing it, or by using the hash tags to add to it? One thing we questions was were they even on Facebook since one parish just used that app. There was recent article that address the question, “Are young people leaving Facebook?” Instragram seems to be the strongest among the teens that engage in using social media but due to the focus on images with Instagram some parishes have challenges using it due to social media regulations and parental concerns. In evaluating our efforts, we wondered why young people didn’t seem to engage and how to measure their engagement?
- Where they waiting on their friends to join in first?
- Were they concerned about being connected to a religious organization?
- Did we use the wrong social media such as facebook?
- Was it to complicated? Did we use too many hash tags? (Week one: #waitingon, Two: #NewHolyModernFamily, Three: #PinkIsTheNewPurple, Four: #babyjesus)
Ultimately, we decided that each leader would take some time to talk with the youth in our parishes that we were targeting to see what were the other reasons and how we can measure their level of engagement. I’ll share more about this as we get feedback from the youth directly and as we make plan for #FortyDays!
Advent Bible Study, If You Build it Will They Come: The regional staff hosted an online Bible Study reflecting on the readings of each week in Advent. Twenty-five people registered but only about a 5th of them engaged actively in the study. We are still evaluating this effort but some feedback from the project team seem to point to the issue that Moodle was to difficult to navigate and that while the content was really good finding the time during a busy advent and holiday season was the greatest impact on participation. This Lent we are going to try another approach, a short retreat in the middle of lent for busy people. There will be more to come later from regional staff, Kay Harter and Margaret Matijasevic on this regional effort.
Recording Advent Homilies: Other efforts that we undertaken with some success were the recording of homilies by priests to share on the website and social media. We discovered there is a need to have volunteers or staff who can edit the audio content prior to uploading it to the web.
QR Codes: Each parish became trained on using QR Codes and used them to promote various advent activities in bulletins and on flyers. One thing that is needed is a way to train parishioners on using QR codes.
Generally, it was a successful collaborative effort in my opinion because all involved learned a great deal through this initial pilot effort. Pilots are so important just for that reason, to give us ways to learn from our experience! Thanks to all those from the SFPR C3 Cluster that helped make our joint efforts so fruitful!