Some of the most powerful communication tools out there are the social media. Twitter, Facebook, and blogging platforms allow for more than just spreading information; they open up opportunities for interaction with both friends, and strangers.
You’d be surprised how few missions agencies make use of social media. YWAM, on the other hand, has a significant presence in social media. Many YWAMers use Facebook and Twitter on a regular basis to keep up with friends, family, and colleagues around the world. Some of the organization’s ministries depend on these tools for meetings, prayer requests, and calendar coordination.
YWAM also maintains an active official Twitter account. Unfortunately, they use it as though it were a traditional channel. Every tweet is YWAM-related, an advertisement for a longer article on a blog or website.
Twitter is not a billboard, and it’s more than just a marketing tool. It’s an interactive communications opportunity. To maximize the effectiveness of their feed, they should consider including re-tweets and links to what others are doing. It sounds counter-productive to send readers to other peoples’ websites, but in the social media world, it comes back around. A friendly mention of arch-rival (kidding) Frontiers in the Twitter stream could result in some of their followers following YWAM as well. This would expand their network and make their feed more interesting. Social media should be, you know, social. Otherwise, it’s spam.
IMB has a page that aggregates its various social media channels in real-time. Something like that would encourage YWAMers around the world to be more active in their use of social media; when your tweet shows up on the YWAM international home page, it’s exposed to more than just your 6 Twitter followers. If they knew that their messages may show up on a high-traffic site like ywam.org, YWAMers might see the networking value in social media.
I have no idea what happens at a DTS, but lots of participants and alumni sure do like to talk about it. Why not make social media status updates part of the curriculum? While young people are being trained to engage people online (that is part of the training, isn’t it?), encourage them to build a support network virtually. Everyone involved in DTS posting about what they’re learning, what’s difficult, and what they love about it would be like ten thousand commercials for the program. It would establish more realistic expectations for the course among potential participants, and make more people aware that it even exists.
Here’s the problem: as it is now, YWAMers are all competing with one another. It’s not that any of its staff or volunteers would want to see others fail, it’s just that there’s really only so much to go around. The YWAM audience of friends, churches, supporters, and alumni only has so much money, so much time to pray, and so much effort to keep up with what’s happening. Unless the organization does more to broaden its support base and help its constituents make sense of it all, the YWAMer with the coolest website will get attention at the others’ expense.
Up next: YWAM Radio.