YWAM’s Social Media

SOCIAL MEDIA

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.

Which social media sites are used in your part of the world?

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.

10 thoughts on “YWAM’s Social Media

  1. I have to say, I’ve been enjoying these thoughts on improving YWAM’s communication to the world. It has been getting better over the years but there’s always room for improvement and one major thing that YWAM isn’t good at, relative to everything else, is communicating itself.

    “Social media should be, you know, social. Otherwise, it’s spam.”
    I really liked your statements about Twitter not being a billboard and that social media shouldn’t just be used to post links back to your blog. I followed you on Twitter yesterday and saw only links back to this blog and I was thinking I should give you some unsolicited advice on using Twitter as an actual social network, but it appears you already know the advice. So the next step would be to tweet something social. :)

  2. Steve,
    Thanks for point that out- I should practice what I preach, shouldn’t I?
    If you’re interested in a better way to use Twitter, check out the The Upstream Collective (@theupstreamc). It’s a good balance of conversation, information, and interesting links.

    I’ll try to do better on my feed.

  3. Thanks for your topics. About time people started having an honest conversation about missions and communications. I’ve been looking into the shift from missionary biographies (which practically stopped being published in the mid-80s), newsletters, and blogs to tell stories. I know your focusing on missions organisations right now but was wondering if you had any thoughts on how missions stories are being told these days and the impact it’s having on prospective missionaries and view of calling. Have other questions I’d love to ask but will leave it at that for now.

  4. Thanks for voting me the coolest website (even if its in a negative context) haha! Graphic design is my profession so when I stepped into missions just over a year ago of course I wanted to create something cool for people. One of my ministries is actually helping other missionaries communicate to family, friends, and the world. While at the main base in Kona, I helped a number of missionaries with their communication.

    I am thinking of ways to consolidate(?) all the missionary blogs out there into one space or to make it more impactful to the world. YWAM is definitely right now reforming their communications and interested in how to connect everybody better. Its an interesting topic for sure and I believe God is wanting to use this technology for His Glory!

  5. Calvin,
    I certainly didn’t mean it in a negative sense. Your skill is obvious: your site really is great- easy to use and nice to look at. In fact, my point was that until YWAM (as an organization) does more to point to other YWAM sites, yours will be the one that gets the most attention. I love that you’re helping others with their communications and web presence. I, too, would love to see more effort put into promoting and discussing those YWAMers who don’t have the time/patience/ability to maintiain awesome websites.
    Thanks. Let me know if there’s any way I can help.

  6. I have certainly enjoyed reading your commentary about communication in YWAM. If we were an organisation that paid our staff (we’re all volunteers) I would think you were angling for a job… :)

    I appreciate your comments about how we use Twitter. It’s been a growing experience for us to work out how we use the official channel. We have also been trying to figure out how us as “brand evangelists” (for lack of a better term) use our personal twitter accounts to engage in the discussion.

    Have you seen the YWAM Facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/YouthWithAMission? There have been some good discussions on that page, and it seems to be easier to engage people there than on Twitter.

    As the producer of the YWAM Podcast, http://ywampodcast.com, I am looking forward to hearing what you have to say about it in your next post…

  7. Bill,
    Thanks for your thoughts. I think you do a great job on the podcast. I assure you, I’m not looking for a job with YWAM. Believe it or not, I’m really just trying to help! Let me know if there’s anything I can do for you.

  8. I’m the editor of YWAM’s Go Manual, a print book that lists all our locations, outreaches, how to get involved, stories of what God is doing, etc. I’d love to send you a copy and get your ideas on it! How do I get one to you?

  9. Hey Amy, do we have a .pdf version maybe that we can send to E. Goodman? It might be nice to have one available on-line for people who can’t get access to the physical one…

  10. We’ve been having a lot of good discussions about using social media as a mission since you wrote this. It’s been good for us to be challenged in how we do it. I’m still quite keen on using the YWAM Twitter feed to connect to the wider missions community, but we’ve got a ways to go.

    We are finding it to be quite challenging to work out how to connect with people around the world, including those in developing nations. Many in those nations are not on Facebook or Twitter, but use more localized services.

    The 2011 YWAM Go-Manual is available on-line now at the YWAM ICN web-site, http://ywamicn.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=44:go-manual&catid=25&Itemid=277

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