How intentional are you about using social media? Maybe you use it regularly, but are you using it intentionally? Students are online, but what is the best way to engage them and model values for them when it comes to social media?
1. Ask your students what social media platforms they are using. If you're not intentional, you may be missing your target. It varies from year to year and from campus to campus. Many students are not on Facebook anymore. They have moved on to Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat, and some are more likely to engage in a "group me" that sends text alerts to their phones. Don't assume, ask. Then pick a few platforms to spend focused attention on.
2. Post regularly. Sometimes it's difficult to remember to post on your page, or to send out a tweet, but more regular posting means more consistent engagement with your social media platform. Use sites that help you set up and schedule posts, like Hootsuite.com, Buffer.com, or if you have a Facebook page, you can schedule when you want posts to go out. Set aside an hour to enter content that you want students to see then schedule them so your day fragmented trying to post new material. Pay attention to key times that students are online, and schedule accordingly.
3. Plan for content. There will always be articles and posts that you want to share on the spot, but plan ahead for what you want your group to see. Share scripture and follow ups to recent studies you have been doing together. Promote upcoming events. Post pictures of your group to help prospects get an idea of what your group does. Recruit students to contribute posts, pictures and scriptures.
4. Model boundaries. Probably goes without saying, but, if you're challenging your students to limit their time on social media, you should too. Do your students see you posting late at night? Constantly during the day? Set a good example by limiting your own time, and let them know ahead of time when you are not accessible.
5. Realize the limitations of social media. Social media can be a great tool for sharing information, even connecting to some degree, but it cannot do everything. Make social media one of several touch points that students will receive from your group. There is no substitute for face to face time with a student, a personal phone call invite from another student, or even a handwritten note.