Thursday, January 26, 2012

Our Social Media Strategy In Young Life

Our Social Media strategy in YL is the exact same strategy we use in all other traditional contact work:
  • Showing up consistently where kids are at
  • Listening
  • Earning the right to be heard
  • Then speaking

Contact work takes a consistent investment of time into relationships, a daily commitment with few short cuts. Same with social media.

So How Do We Use Social Media In Young Life?

We could just use social media simply as a distribution tool, to share information and promote events, but if you want to reach kids, you must engage kids, not just share information. Think of social media as an ongoing conversation, not a digital billboard.

Many adults still communicate via email and then get frustrated when younger generations don’t respond? Maybe those of you on Young Life staff have experienced this frustration with your college leaders. And maybe you college leaders have felt frustrated by having too many emails from your area director.

This frustration happens because email seems ancient to the younger generations. Research shows that Generation Z (born mid-90's-present: current high schoolers) and Generation Y (Born late 80's-early 90's: current college students) consider email "way old school." Even some reputable universities have stopped distributing email accounts. (Boston College, etc.)

If we want to go where kids are, we don't go to an email inbox.

The 3 social networks where teenagers, parents, and college leaders, spend the most time are:

1. Facebook
2. YouTube
3. Twitter

Below are some general thoughts and practical tips for your YL area to implement using these three networks.

Each club in your area should have its on facebook group. There are different opinions as to whether you should have a page or a group and the best response is probably both. You should have a facebook page for your area with general information that points interested folks to the facebook groups of the individual clubs.

Here is an example YL Area Facebook Structure

Smith County Area Facebook Page with general info linking to individual clubs

Smith High School Young Life Group (open for anyone to join)

Smith High 11th Grade Guys Campaigners Group (closed for only the members)

Smith High YL Leaders Group (private group, not viewable by others, only for leaders)

Additional Uses For Facebook In Young Life

Understanding Teenagers
My favorite use for social media is to learn what is going on with kids. It helps us stay current with what is happening in their social world and what cultural influences are shaping them.

Creating events
We create an event each week for club and ask Senior Leaders and campaigner kids to comment on the event so it will move into their friends “top posts” feed.

Posting pics/video
We assign different Senior Leaders/leaders to take pics and video each week at club and load them onto the Facebook group, tagging kids in photos. Make sure to make the albums, pics, and videos “public” so that kids who are not in the group can see how much fun their friends are having at club.

Listen With Friends
A brand new feature that allows you to listen to the same song your facebook friends are listening to at the exact same time. A great way to connect with kids.

We post a slide up at club asking kids to “check-in” and tag their friends with them. Another way to let their friends who are not at club know what they’re missing!

Get additional pointers on using Facebook in YL from

is the second largest search engine in the world after Google. You read that correctly. It is where kids discover music, discover humor, and attempt to make themselves virally famous.

Uses For YouTube In Young Life

Create A YouTube Channel For Your Club
Upload videos from club each week, from camp, from that random time at Campaigners when a kid had to lick the bottom of another kid’s foot because he didn’t memorize his verse.

Share Good Music With Your High School Friends
They are more likely to watch a video than to just listen to an mp3. My musical tastes were greatly influenced by my Young Life leaders and staff.

Campaigners clips
Find movie clips, interviews, etc.… that can be used as part of your Campaigner discussion. If they are longer, ask kids to view them ahead of time as to maximize your time in Campaigners.

BUT FACEBOOK AND YOUTUBE ARE NOT NEARLY AS 'HOT' AS TWITTER! Tomorrow I'll post what I've learned this year on how to use Twitter as a ministry tool.

Please feel free to contact me if you are interested in having a more detailed Social Media Strategy Seminar presented to your area or region.

1 comment:

  1. Hey family! I have been searching around YL Digital site and the leader blog for advice on whether or not leaders should accept friend requests from kids of the opposite sex? Thank you so much for your time