I am amazed by how many times I get the question, “What is the best way to communicate to volunteers using social media?” The problem is that there is not one BEST way. There are a bunch of different ways, and you have to pick one and go with it. Many times, you picking the path that you are going to use to communicate is the hardest step of all though. Why? Because it depends on your communication style and not necessarily the receiving style of your volunteers. Notice this is a post on communicating to volunteers and not to the overall church, your community, or people who don’t go to your church. That type of communication is for another post.
Let’s look at the options that you have for communicating to your volunteers, and then you get to pick which way is going to work BEST for you.
- Set up a blog using WordPress, Blogger, or Posterous. By the way, Posterous is the easiest to set up and get going, and WordPress is the most powerful in my opinion. You can password protect the blog if you want so that only your volunteers get the inside information but having a password isn’t necessary in most cases.
- Set up a Facebook Group. This forces your volunteers to join Facebook if they haven’t already, but more than likely they are already on the site. Lots of options here with Facebook, but I would make it a Group and not a Facebook Page.
- Set up a Volunteer Twitter Account. This will limit you to short messages, but for some of you out there, that is a great thing. Of course, if your volunteers are not on Twitter, then you could help them set it up to receive text messages every time you tweet from the volunteer account.
- Set up a texting group using SimplyTxt, GroupMe, or a whole host of others. Again, you will have to be short and sweet, but your volunteers may love you for being just that.
- Set up your own Social Network using Ning or others. More and more people are setting up their own niche social networks to communicate to people. You could set up your own and let your volunteers interact with each other in a unique way.
- Set up church specific services like Planning Center Online, SoChurch, FellowshipTech, or your church database company. Services like these target your church needs in unique ways and could help you in communicating more than just member management or what is going on in a large group program. Maybe not what you were thinking when you hear social media but many of these are building more and more into their offerings that either integrate or look very similar to social media functions.
- Set up a YouTube or Vimeo Cchannel. Some of you out there despise writing and just wish that you could talk to your volunteers in a creative way. I would say keep the videos under 2:00 and do a little bit more than sitting at your Web cam, but that is just me.
- Set up groups using Google or Yahoo. I wouldn’t be surprised if many of you are a part of a group already in some form or fashion. The issue is with groups like this if you don’t use them then you forget about them quickly. Then again, if you aren’t communicating to your volunteers on a regular basis, then they are going to forget things quickly anyway.
- Last but not least, of course, is e-mail. This is kind of cheating when it comes to calling this social media, but some of you might not be ready to do any of the 8 things above. If that is the case, then feel free to continue using e-mail, phone calls, and paper newsletters. Utilizing things like these are not a bad thing, but soon I think you will find that you will want another way.
There are 9 options for you. Again, I don’t know which one is best for you, but I would love to know. Let us know which you have found to be effective and why in the comments. I really think we could learn a lot from each other in this area.