WEEK Five: Promoting Your Youth Group
- Provide you with many different ways to promote your youth group.
- Offer you practical tips for using each method.
Teens have so many things competing for their time and attention. This means you need to fight for them and make them aware of your group and all the great things you are doing. Thankfully there are many ways to get the message out to them quickly, easily, and affordably.
NOTE: You can have the most amazing marketing, but if you don't have a solid plan for your youth ministry, it won't matter. If you haven't yet, make sure to catch up on weeks 1-4 of this course.
Don’t be afraid to use social media to get your information out to the teens. We need to go where the teens are and social media sites are it. Let’s take a quick look at the three main social media sites right now.
Not too long ago, this was the social media site to be on. However, over the last year or two, Facebook has been fading as teens have shifted to using Instagram and a variety of smartphone messaging apps like Snapchat. While this might be the case, the large majority of teens still have Facebook accounts that they check. One positive of Facebook is that many parents are also on it, so if you create a Facebook group both the teens and parents can join it to get the latest information.
Tip: If you are wondering how to create a Facebook group, the process is pretty simple. You can find instructions at this Facebook page.
This social media site is very popular with teens because it is all photos and short video clips. That means if you want to use this platform you need to be ready to post using one of these methods. Also, and very important, unless you have a smartphone or iPad it is challenging to join Instagram and post to it. Lastly, right now when you create a post you are not able to share a link in the message.
Tip: The key here is to share photos that capture the teens' attention. Put the most important information in your photo, but make sure not to cram a ton of words onto your image. Instead, put most of the text below the photo. You can also tag people who follow you as a way to invite them specifically to see your promo. If you need to provide a link, the best way to do it right now is to add it to your profile and tell them in the post they can find it there.
Teens do use this site. However, because they tend to follow so many people it can be hard to get your message in front of them without posting it several times. The character limit can also make it nearly impossible to say everything you need to say.
Tip: If you are going to use this site, the best thing you can do it post often, but try to change the message up each time you do it. Also, provide a link to a web page where they can learn much more.
Additional Social Media Tips
- If you want to know which social media platform to use, simply ask your youth group which site they use the most. We've found they are very willing to share this information and are helpful at keeping you up-to-date on social media.
- It can be very time-consuming posting to all three sites, so try choosing only one or maybe two.
- Don’t be afraid to post often. Teens have so many friends and follow many people. It may take two or three ads before the teens even see it.
- Make your post exciting. You may have an awesome event or Bible study planned, but if your advertising looks boring and thrown together, many teens may not give it a chance.
Social Media Design Resources
There are some great FREE resources you can use to make social media posts:
Pic Monkey - This site is a free picture editing program. You can use this to adjust a photo, put text over it, crop it, change its color, or make a photo collage. There are features you have to pay for, but you can do a lot using only the free tools.
Canva - This site allows you to put your information onto available graphics. While many background texts and photos aren't free (usually $1 a piece), there are still many free templates you can use. The ads below (two for Instagram and one for Facebook) were made in less than 15 minutes, using Canva's free templates.
Personally invite them
One of the most powerful and effective ways to get teens to come to youth group is to invite them in person or with a nice, encouraging phone call. We cannot over emphasize this: a personal invitation will go much further than merely sending a mass social media message promoting your event.
Get creative in how you do this!
- Consider hosting a teen doughnut day after church where there are tasty doughnuts at a table, but only for the teens in the congregation. When the teens come by to pick-up a doughnut, talk to them, get to know them, and personally invite them to your youth group.
- Ask the local high schools where your teens attend if you can drop off something at the office that would be passed along to your teens during the school day. For example, a candy bar with a handwritten note inviting them to youth group.
- Host an informational meeting about your youth group before you kick-off your year. Invite the teens and their parents to attend. Consider giving them a welcome packet with information about when and where you meet, what events you have planned for the year, and opportunities for the parents to help out.
Be sure to use the available church announcement avenues. A bulletin announcement is a nice way to reach the parents with youth group information. Parents can play a big part in whether a teen comes or not, especially since many teens still rely on their parents to drive them. That is why it is good to keep mom and dad updated on what your youth ministry is doing. For larger events, consider creating a promotional ad that can be slipped inside a bulletin to bring extra attention to what your group is doing.
You can also ask your pastors if they would mind making an announcement for your youth group. Pastors are usually more than willing to help get the word out to the teens and their parents about what the youth group is doing. An announcement after church can be a great way to highlight an upcoming event or the start of a new year.
TEXtING AND EMAILING
Texting and emailing are good tools to get reminders to your teens because they can break through the clutter and get your message directly to them. However, you'll need to get the teens' contact information first, which will probably take building a relationship with them because they may not be willing to simply hand out this information.
It is easy to spend far too much of our lives strategizing in our own power (which is truly no power at all). We too quickly rely on our own plans and ideas to get the job done, then wonder why we never see God working in supernatural, awesome ways. For example, when we started working with our church’s youth group years ago, we planned a fantastic year of events and Bible studies. Yet, week after week, with all our advertising and effort, all we could show for it was 2-3 teens showing up. Then we changed our approach. We started praying. We realized that God had to be the one to move the teens to come. We started by praying for 10 teens to come to Bible study one week. And, would you believe it, 10 teens (exactly) showed up that week! So we started getting more bold and started to pray for 15 and 20 until we were praying for 25 teens and God was bringing that number each week! What a humbling experience and what a faith building lesson to see God’s power over our own. So, give your best effort, but remember to trust in God and call on him to bring the teens.
Continue to week 6: Frequently Asked Questions When Starting a Youth Ministry