This is actually the form of social media and online sharing that I am the least familiar with. I have only had a Flickr account for about 6 months, and I just upgraded to Flickr Pro. How many videos have I uploaded to YouTube? Only a couple. So this is new territory, but a territory nonetheless that I think ministries need to explore more often.

Let me start with a couple of reasons for why you should use these tools:

  1. People like watching videos and looking at photos. Period. In my opinion, they are often more likely to do this then read a post or follow a debate on a forum page.

  2. I think ministries need to start creating more of their own content. Why? One, because how many churches use stock photos of people on their websites that don’t even attend church. I usually hear, “Hey, I’ve never seen them at our church.” Or my favorite, “Our church is not that ethnically diverse.” That’s usually the typical Bible study photo that has a representative of every tribe, tongue and nation represented, and is nowhere close to the actual makeup of the church. Two, video and photos give great insight into people’s lives.

  3. Shooting, editing, creating and uploading video and photo content has never been easier.

  4. These tools are so easy to use that anyone in the community can create content and participate. You don’t have to leave it in the hands of professionals or video/photo department people. This does two things. One, allows for community participation. Two, reflects more the reality of a community, than stuff being created by one department. And when communities participate, the content doesn’t have the constant professional look to it, but looks more reality which is nice. Not that professional is bad at all…but raw footage from the community is great also.

What Would This Look Like?

For example in the college ministry that I used to pastor, The Quest, here is what I think would have been helpful if I had done it. Obviously Facebook is one place where people share photo and video content with each other, but who is going to go look at each profile?

So I think what would be helpful is to have a “central hub” webpage, as I discussed in The Purpose of Your Website. And on this page you would embed the code from Flickr, YouTube, etc. that would automatically stream the content from your community to the page so that everyone could see it. You wouldn’t need to go look at multiple locations, but go to this one home page and share video and photos. This can be done by creating accounts that everyone can upload to.

Then you can develop some creative team to use those photos and videos that are uploaded to the site and post them at various sites in your community, like Facebook, a blog, etc. So you have one site where all the content is uploaded to, and a team that sifts through the material and places it in different ministry locations online.

Some Good Tools

Like I mentioned at the top. I’m a rookie to this, so please chime in with some suggestions. But here is some tools that I have found helpful and have used.

  1. Flickr: Great photo management site. You can get quite a bit of space and ability with a free account. But a Pro account is fairly cheap and gives you lots to work with. I mainly migrated to Flickr based on what I have read in various books on this topic and by the many praises from other such as Wess Daniels and Terry Storch. Flickr is great for photo management, but also you can upload video as well. They have a 90 second limit for video which I think is great. It really helps when determining what you want to shoot and share. I use Flickr video for my blog intro., but I don’t use it for a longer retreat video, etc.

  2. Vimeo: I love this video site. I have migrated from YouTube over to this site. I like the look of the site better. I like that my videos upload faster, etc. Check it out. You can create communities around your videos and create your own channels.

  3. YouTube: This is obviously the standard. Some people love it and it’s fun to go to their YouTube channels to see what they have done.

These are the only three I’m sharing.

So what photo/video management/sharing sites do you use and like?

Formulating an Online Strategy for College Ministry

DISCLAIMERS: 1)There are better technical people out there concerning the web. 2) Do as I suggest, not as I do. I’m trying to keep up myself, and our college website reflects almost nothing of what I talk about. That’s how fast things change. 3) There are a lot of college ministries out there, and there are a lot of online tools to use, but it doesn’t seem like many are thinking through how to best utilize the new media and Web 2.0 (and yikes, Web 3.0) in their groups. 4) Knowing that things change overnight in technology, I hope to somehow impart to you some of the things I have been learning and wrestling with in these areas. You don’t need to be an expert in this area, just know enough to think critically about the issue. 5) If you have feedback, suggestions, criticisms, please comment. This is by no means all encompassing.