We are two weeks away from Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lenten Season 2017. Do you have a plan for what you will share on your parish social media pages? That's what this blog is all about and you have enough time to create and plan content to start off with a bang.
It all begins with Ash Wednesday and drawing members to mass on this holy day. So create a cover photo that exhibits imagery of your pastor or priest placing ashes on the foreheads of parishioners or other symbolic pictures and include the mass schedule.
When you change your cover photo everyone who has liked your Facebook page will see it in their newsfeed. If you have a ceremony for burning the old palms to be used for Ash Wednesday, capture it on Facebook Live and have someone reading the appropriate scriptures while the palms are burning. Creating a similar post for Instagram, but use hashtags to outline the mass times and create a unique hashtag for your parish. You can also use Instagram and Snapchat stories which are super popular and engaging for your millennial members by using imagery that tells the story of Lent or behind the scenes activities.
The Lenten Journey Begins...
The USCCB is promoting a theme for Lent 2017 to "Lift Up", "Give Up", or "Take Up" something this year.
So there are four things that you can do during Lent to engage parishioners:
Celebrate the Lenten Friday Traditions...
The First Friday following Ash Wednesday is a pretty powerful day for attending mass and here is a great blog outlining why?
Fridays during Lent have special meaning to all Catholics with the call for fasting and meatless meals. The most engaging things that you can do is to invite them to your Lenten meal events, typically deemed fish fry's, soup kitchen or something else meatless. Share a post that lists what's on the menu over a picture of the dish, price, serving times and weekly "LentenChallenge or #LentenTheme to reflect on. How about sharing great recipes for meals to do at home being shared on your social pages. Posts with pictures of food generate crazy engagement. It also helps to share generational experiences. I had an Italian grandmother and I still gag thinking about her "Egg Stew" that we had to eat during Lent. Invite parishioners to share their worst Lenten meal experience with the hashtag #worstlentenmeals. You can also do #glutenfreelentenmeals, #sushilentenmeals and the list goes on!
Holy Week Begins...
Palm Sunday is the gateway to Holy Week and again cover photos should be changed to highlight this day. Again share the times and masses where the procession of palms into the church will happen. Great behind the scenes pictures and or video of the palms arriving will really be engaging. You can go Facebook Live, Instagram, Snapchat or post it on your You Tube Channel. Share posts of what people do with the palms. From the kids making crosses out of them to people who place them prominently in there homes. Invite people to share on social media with the question or hashtag "WhereDoYourPalmsGo?
Monday many Dioceses have a Chrism mass and all parishes are invited to attend the mass and sharing it on your social pages will begin the week with a joyful anticipation of the week's events leading up to Easter! If you can't attend make sure that those who do, capture it in pictures or video. If your Diocese does not allow video or pictures by individuals determine if there will be an official photographer or live stream of the event that you can share with your parish.
Tuesday should be a day to change the cover photo again, to reflect the entire week of masses and times otherwise single posts should be created for each of the masses on Holy Thursday, Good Friday, Easter Vigil and Easter Sunday.
Holy Thursday is also a very moving mass to attend and the people who are selected to have their feet washed by the priest is a great way to share the stories of your community. Why were they chosen for this honor? Pictures and video of this traditional mass will also be engaging to followers, so make sure plans are in place to capture video and or pictures of the celebration in advance of the day. In the Archdiocese of Los Angeles all of the Lenten masses are streamed live and the video is made available to share through its Facebook page. So check with your local Diocese to determine if that content will be available for you to share.
Good Friday of course is the most solemn day of Holy Week. Be sure to create another cover change for social pages that will include liturgy times. Post pictures that depict powerful images of what the experience will be. The Veneration of the Cross, purple draping of church environment, preparation of priest vestments, siphoning of holy water and covering of the statues in the church are great ways to tap into the emotional images of this observance. Many Catholic schools also perform passion plays on this day so sharing a picture of the cast with the performance times is also a great way to engage your parish members.
Saturday's Easter Vigil celebrations are focused on the initiation of new Catholics into the faith. Again, sharing pictures of adult baptisms, anointing of the newly confirmed and pictures of the Eucharist in hands for the first time are so evocative of the experience. A prayer for all the newly initiated is also very engaging for a parish community.
The Easter Sunday Mass schedule should be posted on Tuesday or Wednesday of the week on all of your social media pages and use the boost feature in Facebook to draw more people to your parish, by targeting people in your geographic area, who are Catholic or like Catholic pages.
A cover change to proclaim "He is Risen" should post on Easter morning, I usually post the change between 10pm and Midnight on the Easter Vigil. There are many available in a Google search already designed.
Taking a picture of your own church's liturgical environmental depiction of the Risen Christ is always going to be more engaging then a generic one. Simply sign-up for a free tool Canva.com select a template you like with a graphic you can change the wording and upload the photo to and you will have your own.
Let me know if you used any of these ideas in the comments and feel free to ask me questions there too. To see more tips follow my Facebook page or visit my website.