I love overly salted, cured meats but that is not the SPAM we are talking about. In 2014, we realized we were spamming the parents in our ministry. The open rate of our student ministry emails were crazy low. We were working hard to be heard outside of email too, and it was a little exhausting.
Here was our communication strategy: “Get our info out any and every way.”
That was not in print, but that is what our actions were saying. We were sending an email a week to small group parents (that’s up to 52 a year). We were sending an announcement email once a week (yep, that’s another 52 a year). We were also posting on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. In addition to mailing and handing out calendars and event flyers. I can’t really do the math on that, but it equals a lot of wasted paper, time, and plenty of white noise.
We needed to change our strategy. We were incredibly unproductive in our our productivity. This is not groundbreaking leadership but the thought I had was this:
Instead of following culture in the area of social media and communication, we need to create culture.
Here is a glimpse at our communication strategy. We have been faithfully implementing this simple plan for several months…and it is working because we created a strategy and followed through (the follow through built trust).
- We email once a month: This is us to them (our direct connect). This forces me (the youth worker) to look ahead, and that’s a good thing. Twelve times a year versus 52 times a year creates greater urgency (SPAM gets ignored).
- We text when deadlines get closer: Short notes, directly to their phone are a huge win, and Simply Youth Ministry TOOLS makes that happen for us. I know, there’s a 99¢ app for that. No app is as robust and useful as SYM TOOLS! Sign-up for a free 30 day trial here.
- We put everything on the web: It’s our hub! This is them to us (their direct connect to us). They need something…they can TRUST it is there (keep it updated or you will lose trust and viewers…does your youth calendar page still have the 2013 calendar up? Lost opportunity.).
- Publications: We still do a quarterly calendar that we mail to everyone on our mailing list. We also do a flyer for every event, something cool that kids will take home and hopefully take to a friend.
Social Media Approach:
Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Vine, and other social media outlets have their place and uses, but they are no longer our main focus.
Here is a snapshot of how we use Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram specifically…
- Facebook: We are not communicating with students here, most have left. Parents are still on Facebook, but we lean on our email newsletter and trust that they will visit our website.
- Twitter: This is HUGE for our trips. Like an emergency phone number, we give this out and a way for parents to get instant updates while we are on trips. It is a mini-blog for us. Here’s where we are. Here’s a picture. “Hey parents, we are going to arrive 30 minutes early, come pick up your property…I mean your teen!”
- Instagram: This is where most students are interacting. Just posting images, and liking pics. Like, like, like, like, like…says, “Hey, I noticed you today.”
If you’re not creating culture in the area of communication you will always be following the masses to the latest and greatest social media platform.
Giving Parents Resources:
Another good way to communicate and keep a connection with your students’ parents is by providing them with great resources on parenting. We recommend the blog at Lifetree Family as a start. Share these articles with your students’ parents to show that you care about helping them thrive as a family and to start more conversations. For example, check out this new post by my friend, Leneita Fix: 3 Things to Remember When Standing Ground With Your Teens.
What works for you?