SOCIAL MEDIA BEST PRACTICES FOR PARISHES
Online communications have significantly shaped the way people interact with each other, and continue to influence how and where people look for information. Among various forms of online communications, social media continues to be a significant tool that could be used for the Church’s mission of evangelization.
As a Church, we have the opportunity to use social media for the twofold purpose of information and formation:
- Information – to update parishioners with Mass and reconciliation schedules, liturgies they could participate in, ministries they could help in, parish events they could join, and other information relevant to them as members of their parish community.
- Formation – to help parishioners in their faith journey through curated Catholic content (videos, blogs, articles, etc.).
Also, the Church has the opportunity to use social media as a platform of influence. In a day and age where hundreds of millions of people are active online, social media can be effectively used to reach not only those in the pews, but also those who are not. Building an active, welcoming and friendly parish social media presence could foster engagement even among those who are not in the Church.
The goal of this Best Practices and Guidelines is to help parishes that are not on social media create and maintain an active and engaging social media presence. Additionally, offer tips and insights from the experiences of the Diocese of Calgary Social Media Committee. Consequently, the aim of establishing a parish social media presence is not only to share your weekly Parish bulletin, nor is it only to post Mass times. Since we share in the life and mission of the Catholic Church, our ultimate aim is to engage our parishioners (information), help them in their faith journey (formation), and to help spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ online (platform of influence/evangelization).
Among all other social media platforms, Facebook is the largest by number of monthly active users (1+ billion). Considering its prominence and the level of detail and information one can put, it is fair to say that you can treat your Facebook page as your secondary source of information online — next only to your official parish website. Click here for Facebook’s official Getting Started with Pages how-to guide.
How to use Facebook
- Populate your Facebook Page’s About section with all the important and relevant details about your parish (e.g. Parish’s street address, website, parish office telephone number, contact email, Mass and Reconciliation times, etc.)
- Take advantage of Facebook’s Events feature. By creating one for each of your parish events, you can share it to your followers, on which there is a feature where they can RSVP. In turn, your followers can share your event with their friends.
- Share opportunities where parishioners can volunteer in the different parish ministries.
- Share links to Catholic news.
- Follow the Facebook Pages of other Catholic organizations, ministries, parishes, and Dioceses – this makes curating Catholic content easier.
- Create a Page: some people make the mistake of creating a Facebook profile for their parish instead of a Facebook Page. The difference? A Facebook profile is for a personal user (i.e. you as an individual), while a Facebook Page is for an organization/business. As a parish, a Facebook Page is what you need. Note that a Facebook Page is different than a Facebook Group. Don't choose Group, choose Page.
- Assign roles: In your Facebook Page’s settings, you can assign other Facebook Users a role in managing your Page (Admin, moderator, editor, etc.), with each role having varied accessibilities and rights. This will make maintaining your Facebook presence easier.2
- Live Video: want to broadcast an event, live? While Facebook Live started out only for personal profiles and only from a mobile device, it is now available for Pages and from a computer. Click here for more.
Twitter is another social media platform where users can post and respond to short messages called Tweets. Tweets are limited to 140 characters and can be about virtually anything. You can post a tweet, reply to one, share a tweet you like (called a re-tweet or RT). You can also attach images, video, or links to every tweet you post. There’s a huge Catholic “population” on Twitter, collectively known by the moniker Catholic Twitter. And who exactly makes up Catholic Twitter? A lot. Priests, nuns, bishops, catholic bloggers, and yes – even Pope Francis. Don’t forget to follow him at @Pontifex! Click here for Twitter’s official getting started guide.
How to use Twitter
- The details we’ve listed above on Facebook generally applies to all of social media, Twitter included. So populate your Twitter profile with the necessary information (a short bio of who you are, your parish website, etc.)
- Twitter pioneered the use of Hashtags. Not sure what a hashtag is? Click here. You can use this to create a unique identity for your parish’s social media presence. For example, the Diocese of Calgary uses #CatholicYYC in its posts online. Our Lady of the Rockies in Canmore, Alberta, uses #OurLadyRocks. Be creative, and share it with your parishioners! Use this handy guide for creating your hashtags.
- You can share on Twitter what you also share on Facebook: links to Catholic news, curated Catholic content, your own parish news, and volunteer opportunities.
- Follow other Catholic users and see what they tweet about! As with Facebook, this also helps make curating Catholic content much easier.
- Keep it active. If Facebook has a Timeline where you can see others’ posts, Twitter has a Feed. This feed is constantly updated; so don’t hesitate to tweet multiple times a day.
Instagram is a popular photo-sharing social media platform where users can post images, video, as well as live-video. Unfortunately, content can only be posted on Instagram from a mobile device — meaning no computers.
Tips: You can link Instagram posts to automatically share in Facebook. Use this feature with discretion.
Other Social Media Platforms
There are several other social media platforms that may be useful for your parish’s needs that are not included in this guideline. Below is a list of other platforms at your disposal that you could use, and a brief description of what they are for.
- Youtube: video hosting and sharing
- Vimeo: video hosting and sharing
- Flickr: hosting and sharing images
- Pinterest: a virtual board on which users can pin and visually share interesting finds on the internet
- Google+: Google’s own social media network, useful to boost your website’s SEO (search engine optimization)
- Snapchat: a mobile-only social media platform where users can send visual (e.g. image and video) messages — hence, snap-chat.
OTHER Important Tips
- Be visual
Social media is largely visual, and having a visual element to your posts will help you get more Impressions (social media term for the number of times your post is displayed) and Engagement (likes, comments, shares, retweets, etc.). Thus instead of posting your Pastor’s Easter message on Facebook in plain text, why not create a short video?
- Keep your Identity Consistent
Keep your social media handle/username consistent on all social media platforms so people can find you easily. For example, the Diocese of Calgary’s handle on all social media accounts is @calgarydiocese.
- Be Active
If you do decide on creating multiple social media accounts on different platforms for your parish, you must commit keep it active and updated constantly. Also do not just post content – be sure to engage with your followers by replying to comments and tweets. This makes your presence personable.
- Respect Intellectual Property
Obey the law. Understand the copyrights accompanying any online content, whether they be images, music, videos, etc. Content posted online are to be treated similarly with content in other publications.
- Account Access & Credentials
Login credentials for the parish’s social media accounts such as usernames, emails, and passwords must be constantly updated. Also, this document must be accessible by the social media administrator and the Pastor, or whomever the social media administrator reports directly to. This file must be treated as highly confidential. Regarding passwords: complexity is good, but length is also important (8-10 characters).
- Privacy and Safe Environments
Do not disclose information that is to be held in confidence. Also, any individual involved in managing social media accounts must not engage in private online conversations with children. A good rule of thumb is to keep all forms of engagement public (through comments, replies to tweets), instead of Direct Messages, commonly called DM’s.
Permission to photograph children cannot be assumed, and neither is posting their pictures on social media. Photographs of children shouldn’t be posted on social media sites without the prior approval of the child’s parents or legal guardian. Also, take great care to avoid including identifying details or information with an image posted online. For a sample photo release form, see Page 6 of the Diocesan Social Media Policy.
Creating a Social Media Team
Creating and curating content for social media, as well as the overall maintenance of the parish’s social media accounts, can be challenging. Having a social media team of about 3-4 people that handles all these tasks is very valuable. There are a few things to consider when selecting the right people for this team.
Members must be carefully selected, screened, and have references and background checks obtained, just as with other parish ministries. Remember that just because someone is social media savvy does not mean that they are perfectly fit for the task. Social media admins represent the Church on every single post and comment that they write — these individuals must have good moral character, well-formed in the Catholic faith, and have the ability to think through the implications of what they are about to write. It is important that the team works closely with their parish priest and office. In addition, it would be significantly beneficial if members of the social media team have a sense of brand consistency when creating content.
Social Media Team Email
It is also worth considering creating a special email account for use by the social media team. This email account will then be the one used when creating social media accounts, instead of having to use someone else’s personal email. For example, the Calgary Diocese Social Media Committee uses a Gmail account that members use when logging in, signing up, and as backup email.
Scheduling and Creating Content
Social media administrators do not always need to be on a computer or mobile device in order to post content. Free resources, such as Facebook’s own Scheduling tool, HootSuite or the Buffer App account give social media administrators the ability to queue posts to be released on a certain date and time.
Each tool may have unique features of their own, but essentially they all allow you to schedule social media posts in advance and monitor your accounts when someone mentions you or leave a comment.
PROMOTING your Social Media Presence
Don't forget to promote your social media presence. Start engaging with your parishioners to ensure effective communication and build a loyal parishioners base.
Tips: Include social media buttons on your bulletin, website and provide accurate links to your parish social media networks. Integrate your social media information with your other Parish communications channels such as the:
- Email (in the signature)
- Bulletin Board
- Stationery - Letterhead, Business Cards
- Website & other social media presence
Compiled by the Diocesan Social Media Committee, November 2017.
ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF CALGARY
DIOCESE OF CALGARY SEMINARIANS ANNOUNCEMENTS
- Mr. Shane Lambert, internship seminarian, will be admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders in his current pastoral year parish, Holy Spirit, Calgary at 9 AM on Sunday, November 26, 2017.
- Mr. Troy Nguyen, internship seminarian, will be admitted to Candidacy for Holy Orders in his current pastoral year parish, St. Peter's, Calgary, at 11:30 AM on Sunday, November 26, 2017.
- Mr. Derek Remus has been called to Holy Orders and will be ordained to the Transitional Diaconate by Most Rev. William McGrattan in his pastoral year parish, St. Bonaventure, Calgary, at 5 PM on Saturday, December 23, 2017.
- Mr. Mark Drapal has been called to be instituted in the Ministry of Acolyte in his home parish of St. Cecilia, Calgary, at 9 AM on Sunday, February 18, 2018.
Please pray for all of our seminarians, especially those taking these next steps in their formation and preparation.
FR. THOMAS ROSICA'S KEYNOTE ADDRESS AT THE 2017 Parish CommunicationS Workshop
Here is Fr. Thomas Rosica's keynote address delivered on November 13, 2017 at the 2017 Parish Communications Workshop:
- Living in Digital World - Address to Communicators of the Diocese of Calgary
- Bonus: Fr. Rosica's keynote address for the 2015 Catholic Media conference.
BISHOP McGRATTAN'S LITURGICAL CALENDAR
Bishop McGrattan's diocesan liturgical calendar is now available. A link to the calendar will be maintained on the Office of Liturgy webpage. Note that the schedule is subject to change.
- Bishop McGrattan's Liturgical Calendar 2017-2018
- If you have any questions please contact the Office of Liturgy at 403-218-5511 or 403-218-5524 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
CARILLON READERSHIP SURVEY - NOV/DEC 2017
If you have not already completed a paper survey we invite you to add your input to help us plan for our new publication. The December Carillon will be the last in its current format. The new publication will be available in March/April 2018.
- Please help us design an attractive and effective Diocesan magazine which will be a worthy successor to The Carillon, by filling in this survey: Carillon Readership Survey
- The November Carillon features the readership survey on the back page. Please encourage all your contacts to complete it either in print or by forwarding the link to them.
REJOICE IN GOD'S MERCY - ADVENT 2017
The Diocese of Calgary invites you to experience the peace, love, and joy brought by participating in the sacrament of reconciliation. In addition to the regular parish schedule, the sacrament of Reconciliation will be available at parishes throughout the Diocese of Calgary all the Wednesdays of Advent from 7:30 – 8:30pm.
COLLECTION OF SLIGHTY USED or NEW CLOTHING FOR PUERTO RICO
The Knights of Columbus are embarking on a mission to collect slightly used or new clothing for the devastated area of Puerto Rico as a result of Hurricane Maria. If you are approached by The Knights of Columbus please know that Bishop McGrattan has granted permission to support this worthy cause.
FAITH ENRICHMENT FOR SENIORS - NOV 27 and Dec 4
The Faith Enrichment for Seniors group will be held on Mondays November 27 & December 4, 2017 at St. Joseph’s Parish from 1:00 pm to 3:00pm. No registration is necessary and all are welcome.
- For further information contact Norline at 403-218-5503 or e-mail email@example.com
MEMORIAL LITURGY: A PRAYER SERVICE FOR THOSE MOURNING THE LOSS OF A CHILD THROUGH MISCARRIAGE OR STILLBIRTH - NOV 24
When families lose a baby in the womb, the cries of birth go unheard; the grasp of tiny fingers slips away. This profound loss needs articulation. Join us in a prayer gathering to commend our children communally into the embrace of our merciful God and to support those who are grieving the loss of a child. A memorial prayer service for those mourning the loss of a child thorugh miscarriage or stillbirth will be held on Friday, November 24, 2017 at 7pm, at Sacred Heart Church (1307 14 St SW, Calgary, AB).
- For more information or to RSVP, please visit: http://www.miscarriageliturgy.ca
Listening to god's Voice Retreat - Nov 25
Learn how to open your heart and listen to God’s voice as did the Blessed Virgin Mary. This is a special retreat for single women (ages 16-35) interested in looking at Religious life. This retreat is being offered by Sisters from various Religious communities and provides an occasion when single women can interact with them in a prayerful setting. Retreat will be hosted at Holy Name Catholic Church, 2223 – 34 St. S.W., Calgary on Saturday, November 25, 2017; Time: 8:30 AM to 4 PM (lunch is provided). Fr. Cristino Bouvette will be providing Holy Mass, and a Holy Hour of Adoration, with an opportunity for the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Still my heart, Lord, that I may listen to Your voice.
- For more information and to register, contact: Sr. Terry, FCJ 403-228-3623 or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE JOY OF LOVE MARRIAGE CONFERENCE WITH BISHOP MCGRATTAN AND DR. EDWARD SRI - Dec 8-9
The Joy of Love Marriage Conference & Renewal of Vows with Bishop McGrattan will take place on December 8-9 at St. Peters Parish (541 Silvergrove Dr. NW Calgary). Dr. Edward Sri a theologian, author and well-known speaker who appears regularly on EWTN will be the conference keynote speaker.
- Register online here or for more information contact Kusum Di Marco at email@example.com
- See the event poster here.
CATHOLIC SPEED DATING EVENT - DEC 1
Upcoming Event: Friday, December 1st at St. Thomas More Church, 15 Templebow Road N.E., Calgary. Age Range: (Women: 24 to 32 & Men: 27 to 35) & (Women: 33 to 41 & Men: 36 to 44). Doors open for sign in at 7:00pm, and Event begins at 7:30pm.
- To register visit www.CatholicSpeedDating.ca or for more information contact Rose at firstname.lastname@example.org or 587-333-1099.
ADVENT RETREAT WITH BISHOP EMERITUS FREDERICK HENRY - DEC 9
Development & Peace Diocesan Council invites everyone to a very special Advent retreat with Bishop Emeritus Frederick Henry at Mount St. Francis on Saturday, December 9, 2017, at 9 am for the whole day. Join us as we celebrate the positive peace built by women and reflect on how we can all continue to play a vital role in creating a more peaceful world ‘For nothing will be impossible with God’ ~Luke 1:37.
- For more information or to register - email@example.com. Cost: Free will offering.
PROJECT RACHEL POST ABORTION WEEKEND RETREAT - FEB 23-24
The retreat offers a journey of healing and reconciliation for women and men who are suffering from a past abortion experience. Trained certified counselors are available to accompany people on a journey toward hope and inner peace. The next retreat is scheduled for February 23 - 24, 2018.
- For more information or to register call Project Rachel at 403-218-5506 or toll free at 1-877-597-3223. You may also e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
MAY PEACE BE WITH HER
The Development & Peace Fall Campaign's theme this year is "May Peace be with Her", focuses on women's role in building peace. All around the world, courageous women gather to fight and resist violence, working for a more peaceful world. When 35% of parliamentarians are women, the risk of a nation relapsing into conflict is near zero. Let us join our voices and ask the Canadian government to give women the resources they need in order to take their place at the heart of peacebuilding.
MARRIAGE PREPARATION "FOR BETTER & FOR EVER"
“For Better & For Ever…” Marriage Preparation, accepts all couples preparing for marriage. Due to the small group setting it allows us to focus on couples in one or more of the following circumstances: living together, previously married, beginning marriage with children, couples 45+, or those who wish to have their marriage blessed in the Church.
- For more dates, registration or information, contact 403-218-5505 or e-mail the LFRC Centre.
- Register Online Here
PROJECT RACHEL POST ABORTION COUNSELLING
The ministry offers a journey of healing and reconciliation for women and men who are suffering distress from a past abortion experience. Clients will be referred to a professional counselor who specializes in dealing with the trauma associated with this experience.
- For more information call Project Rachel at 403-218-5506 or toll free at 1-877-597-3223. You may also e-mail email@example.com.
- Go to Project Rachel's Website
EFFECTIVE CO-PARENTING: PUTTING KIDS FIRST
An educational 5-week program for separated and divorced parents to help raise their children through this difficult time and increase the understanding of needs of children for developing self-esteem and security. It will offer skills to help manage diverse shared parenting situations and provide strategies to improve communication, resolve conflict, and manage day-to-day issues between parenting partners. Parents are encouraged to attend separately. The next program will run 7:00pm - 9:00pm in the fall of 2017.
- For more information or registration contact the Life & Family Resource Centre at 403-218-5505 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- More information about Separation and Divorce Ministry.
CONSECRATION OF CANADA TO THE IMMACULATE HEART OF THE BLESSED VIRGIN MARY
Parishes are invited to hold a parish celebration on one or more Saturdays within the anniversary year (July 1 2017 to July 1 2018). Prayer templates, prayer card and catechetical materials are available on the Office of Liturgy website.
- For more information, please click here or Contact the Office of Liturgy at 403-218-5511 or 403-218-5524 - or email us at email@example.com
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On September 23, we celebrated the 50th Anniversary of Canadian Martyrs Parish. It was a joyous event capping off a year of special events and planning. The choir, under the direction of Andreas and Kathryn Berko, was jubilant in song. Kathryn composed The Mass of the Canadian Martyrs, while Caroline Panlilio composed the Responsorial Psalm.
Bishop McGrattan spoke eloquently about a church building and its relationship to the community over 50 years. He reiterated the Gospel message: “…the first will be last and the last shall be first” [Matthew 20: 1 - 16] At the beginning of the 50 years, the parishioners built up the parish memories with many sacraments performed; and now the newest parishioners continue on!
Following the Mass, parishioners and guests attended a dinner and gathering at Varsity Community Hall where we enjoyed speeches and parish entertainment along with the St. Francis School Jazz Ensemble. With 250 people present, the mood was celebratory and included much visiting among parishioners, past and present, including pastors. Fr. Vincent’s address traced the pioneer spirit of the Canadian Martyrs to the parish’s first priest Msgr. Joseph Le Forte and other founding parishioners, some of whom were present. Quoting Msgr. Le Forte from the 10th Anniversary, “…through it all the families of Canadian Martyrs formed a strong community of faithful and loyal people that work together in a most remarkable manner…” In a toast to the priests who had served, and continue to serve as the parish’s pastors, being men who had brought life to the inanimate building – no matter how beautiful – and the visible results of 50 years of their dedicated, visionary hard work, all rose in their honour and in thanks to those pastors absent or whom have gone before us.
The Closing Hymn at the Mass echoed the 50th Anniversary theme: “We are a pilgrim people, we are the Church of God. A family of believers, disciples of the Lord. United in one spirit, ignited by the fire. Still burning through the ages, still present in our lives.”
In honour of the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of our Blessed Mother at Fatima, schools within the Medicine Hat Catholic Board of Education, as well as the Catholic Education Office, consecrated their buildings, staff and students to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. This initiative follows the consecration of our country and dioceses by bishops and parishes by priests earlier this summer.
Director of Religious Education of Medicine Hat Catholic, Jill Wilkinson, assisted administrators of various schools, with parish priests, to officially consecrate the schools in prayer services during the month of October. At St. Michael’s School, students were reminded of the story of the three shepherd children of Fatima and the appearances of Our Lady urging them to pray the rosary for the conversion of souls. Students and staff prayed the rosary followed by a special consecration prayer and school blessing by Fr. Tomy Manjaly.
Our Catholic Faith is so rich in meaningful traditions, which are imperative for our children to experience. The story of Fatima and the examples of St. Jacinta, St. Francisco and soon to be canonized, Lucia, help students to understand our devotion to Mary and how God chooses even children to spread his salvation throughout the world. The consecration celebration held at St. Michael’s on Tuesday, October 10, was part of the school’s ongoing devotion to our Blessed Mother which consists of a weekly rosary making club and rosary lunch club.
We have such a tremendous freedom in our Catholic schools to educate our children in meaningful, life altering experiences. This was one such moment that I pray will remain with our students and staff throughout their schooling experience and in years to follow.
Catholic schools are privileged to share in the saving mission of the Church by providing education in the faith. Cultivating wisdom and virtue by nurturing truth, goodness and beauty, students come to know, glorify and love God. In addition to educational content, these attributes are taught and learned through the practice of the faith and learning opportunities, which integrate instruction with service.
The Truth that we share is Jesus Christ and it is expressed in knowing the truth of God’s love and mercy for each person and by fostering a relationship with Jesus Christ. In the Calgary Catholic School District, students grow in truth through such activities as Youth for Christ, Alpha, pilgrimages, retreats, liturgies, prayers, devotions, and by participating in the sacraments.
Knowing the truth of God’s love, students discover their inherent goodness, learning that they and all people have been created in the image of God who alone is good. Goodness is expressed, according to Pope Francis, by drawing near to others. We see this exemplified in schools in many different ways. One school prepared an image of a large cross made up of paper hands of different tones to demonstrate that all people are created equally and must be treated with dignity and respect. One school provided items for newborns while others spent time with seniors or with the L’Arche Community.
Recognizing that all people have dignity, students experience and know beauty by serving others. Service is fueled by joy that gives hope and affirms the work and action of the Holy Spirit. Each school community thoughtfully selects service activities that provide students with service learning opportunities to help them grow in faith. In Calgary Catholic, students have served others through a variety of activities such as food, clothing and coin collections, justice fairs, breakfast clubs, being in solidarity with the homeless, and more. Some schools integrated quotes from Pope Francis’ book, Dear Pope Francis, to reinforce responsibility to care for one another.
By fostering faith through truth, goodness and beauty, Catholic schools perform an invaluable service. In the Calgary Catholic School District, we work to share the Good News of the Gospel with our students, who can then, in turn, share this with the world.