This is always a great questions because the platforms students choose to be social on change as well as how they interact on that platform. Start with finding out which platforms your kids use most such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube etc.. Once you have the medium you can come up with a strategy.
The questions is, How do we define connecting? I think connecting is a gradual thing it starts with a like, a thumbs up, or a share. It’s much easier to connect on a surface level if we know the kids we are serving, what kind of music, movies, hobbies, etc they are into.
There is a bit of a creepy factor here because I don’t want kids to think I am stalking them or pandering to them. I want my interactions to be as authentic as possible, kind of a “Look what I found” kind of thing.
Deeper connections come when we ask good questions back to them such as “Great thought, can you go a little deeper with that? ” or we push back a little on one of their opinions asking them to clarify or support what they are saying.
The basics, for me, are
Ask for their opinion on what they like. This could be in the form of a video, picture, or short post.
Ask them to vote for something. Maybe you are thinking of a few choices for tonight’s game. Put it to a vote. Most likes win. We do this sometimes with our cafe food and it’s a big hit.
Ask them to share. This could be an encouraging scripture or meme.
Ask them to comment. Sometimes I’ll shoot a random photo and ask for a title for it.
Here are a few new ideas I plan on using and see what happens
I recently started doing weekly Jesus Jams on our FB page. I usually post a video to introduce kids to new Christian Music. What I am going to start doing is asking kids to, in the old school radio terms, yank it or crank it to get their opinion. I may even tag certain kids who I know are into certain kinds of music.
I post a fair amount of youth group photos and video on our Instagram Page. I get tons of likes, etc. One thing I am thinking about doing is featuring kids as students of the month and offering a short profile.
I love making videos and I may use this medium as a way to share devotion and get kids commenting. After camp seems like a natural time to do it especially when they are a on the mountain top. I’ll make the video and post it tagging all the kids who went to camp.
Twitter: Not too many kids on Twitter so I am leaving this one alone.
A few more ideas
I have kid who does #selfiesunday. He takes a picture of what he’s wearing to church. Ask kids to share a photo of themselves on a certain day or a “what are you looking at right now”
Use #throwback Thursday to share a favorite youth group photo or a photo of themselves.
I do not have a heavy presence on Snap Chat. I am intermittent at best. Not a ton of my students use Snapchat as much, but I still get on their from time to share.
What can you do with it? I do the typical announcements, etc. but I also use it as a window into my ordinary life. I share places, food, events, etc. just to give kids a heads up about who I am as a person.
Here’s an article with a few other ideas for using Snapchat
What ways are you finding most successful at connecting with kids on social media?
What was the most engaged content or request you ever posted?
Check our these other posts on engaging teens on social media