Research is showing that social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter boast 3.7 billion users worldwide, an increase of 5% from 2020. Clearly, social media is a vastly effective tool when it comes to reaching the public, whether you’re a commercial business peddling a product or a Catholic parish looking to spread the Good News. These days, the internet really is the public square.
“Social media is fundamentally changing how people communicate,” writes the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on its website. “Our Church can not ignore it; in fact, it is our responsibility as Catholics to bring the Church’s teachings into what Pope Benedict XVI called the ‘digital continent.’”
But how each individual parish community embarks on that “digital continent” will look different. When deciding what kind of social media presence your parish wants to curate, there are important points to keep in mind that have to do with demographics, accountability, ease of use, and more.
Who do You Want to Reach?
An important factor to consider is the average age of your parishioners — or the average age of people you want to reach. A Pew Research Center survey from 2021 indicates that 72% of Americans use some form of social media. It’s a number that does tend to drop with age, however — about 45% of adults age 65 and older report doing so.
Usage of social media by platform can also depend heavily on age, gender, ethnicity, and income. Older adults are more likely to use Facebook and less likely to use Instagram and YouTube; the younger crowd shows up for Facebook as well, but loves Instagram and Snapchat, Twitter and WhatsApp, too. WhatsApp, in particular, has shown itself to be especially popular with the Hispanic community over the past few years of Pew Center studies.
Managing Your Online Presence
If your parish is going to establish a social media account, it’s advisable that only a few people have posting privileges so that your online presence is clean and consistent. Many parishes who decided to take their evangelization efforts online feel that the use of a management tool like Hootsuite or Buffer is essential. Not only does it save staff time in posting, but additional resources are often included and posts can be easily scheduled ahead for certain times.
If you’re looking for engaging and fresh content for your social media presence, be sure to check out all that is available on WeCreate, our Art & Media platform. Evangelize your community with the latest in stock photography, church clip art, Catholic prayers, weekly Gospel reflections, and more (psst, it’s also a FREE add-on to your bulletin subscription!).
What Social Media Management Platform is Right for You?
Here’s a quick rundown of some of the most popular social media management tools:
More than 18 million customers choose Hootsuite to manage their social media accounts, gaining access to a social analytics dashboard that shows top-performing content and offers personalized insight. Hootsuite also allows customers the opportunity to connect their social networks across apps, and offers courses taught by professionals.
Sprout aims to get you “from overwhelmed to empowered” by streamlining your engagement with your social media channels. Sprout can publish content, evaluate the performance of your posts, help you respond to messages quickly and much more.
Buffer allows customers an easy way to reach their audience through scheduled posting across networks like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest while providing analysis on engagement and resources for improving.
Looking for new ways to engage and inspire your parishioners using social media? Check out our blog, “4 Social Media Trends to Watch In 2021.”