This post will cover three effective methods for communication with your young adult group.
Effective communication ensures up-to-date members, improves involvement, bolsters attendance, and provides opportunities for feedback to give you new ideas and help your members feel heard.
The three main methods I use to communicate with Grapevine, my own young adult group, are GroupMe, Email, and In-Person.
I'm going to give a quick outline each one, then share how I leverage them together for the best overall outcome.
What It Is
GroupMe is a purpose-built group-chat app. It functions much like group texts, but unlike texting, members can join established groups, which appear as threads on the interface.
This 4-minute video gives a good overview of the features of the app.
Within each group in the app, you can "like" messages, create polls, pin announcements, set custom notifications, and tag specific members for correspondence.
Discord is another popular group-chat alternative.
How I use it
GroupMe is best used to keep everyone connected for quick updates, thoughts, prayer requests, day-of reminders, and the occasional meme.
Some young adult groups even choose to have two separate chat threads: one for "announcements" and one for "social" chatting.
In Cleveland, young adult communities use this app as their primary means to communicate. It's almost a prerequisite for a new ministry to create a GroupMe account.
You can add people from already established groups, spread the word about your new ministry through the platform and other groups, and allow people to join the group without having to show up to a meeting.
An added benefit is that you can start building a GroupMe following before even having your first in-person event, which seriously helps spread the word as it approaches.
What It Is
Every week, I send an email to anyone who has signed up to receive Grapevine updates. Email is an underrated tool and probably the most effective means I have to communicate with the Grapevine community. This is how I communicate longer, detailed information to people in a non-invasive way just one time per week.
It avoids the clutter that comes with a messaging app, and is delivered right to the recipient's inbox rather than getting buried under new posts.
How I use it
To have an effective email list, you have to have people on it. At each weekly Grapevine meeting, I ask attendees if they want to be in our GroupMe and on our email list.
Because of the busy nature of young adult events, I send an email update every Monday so that no one is left in the dark.
Our Weekly Updates have transformed over time, taking advantage of all the capabilities Gmail has to offer. Essentially—with the help of my co-founder Xavier— we leveraged gmail into a poor man's version of what almost rivals paid services like Mail Chimp or SendGrid.
Take a look at the change over time:
Make sure to keep the right kind of communication on the right platform. For example, avoid the back-and-forth of long email chains that group messages could handle better. On the flip side, don't expect a one-time group message to stick around in peoples' minds after getting buried under newer messages. Email is easy to find and reference all week long.
Email: A Powerful Tool
The potency of email messages lies in its recipients and its clean, organized delivery.
If you want to deep dive the power of email and its benefits over other methods like social media, watch or listen to Episode 445 of the Carey Nieuwhoff Leadership Podcast with Amy Porterfield.
Who Should I Have on My Email List?
While I don't recommend you have people outside of the community in your GroupMe thread, I do recommend spreading your email to anyone who is interested.
This can include the pastor of your host parish, various priests throughout your diocese, other leaders of young adult communities in your area, diocesan representatives, and even news outlets. And don't count out the older folks like parents or grandparents who can be a valuable way to reach young adults outside of your sphere of influence.
Also, unlike a word-of-mouth recommendation, you have complete control over the content of your email. You can present your ministry exactly how you want to.
What It Is
At the end every meeting at Grapevine, we share a handful of in-person announcements with the group. Meeting announcements are most helpful for near-term updates, but they are also a good way to pre-announce future events that have yet to be detailed out.
While many people may not read every email or see every GroupMe message, you know that everyone at your meeting will hear your announcement, and it may stick better than an email or group message. It also helps address any questions that pop up in the moment.
How I use it
For our in-person announcements, we actually use our weekly email as an outline.
Since the email aggregates more content and is more thought-out than anything "off-the-cuff," it offers clear outline to cover, and the repeated exposure further solidifies the messages given over the last week through the email and GroupMe.
This is also a good opportunity to add a human touch to any announcement. For example, do you need volunteers for an event? A heartfelt in-person invite goes a lot farther than another app notification.
We've found that this method of communication best serves as a quick ongoing reminder or for really selling an event. It does not work well for sharing all the details of everything going on everywhere, which is better served by email and GroupMe.
Leveraging The Big Three Together
While they have many benefits on their own, the true power of these methods comes when they are combined. Here's how I do it:
Every email is also shared within GroupMe, and is then used as the template for the in person announcements. This maximizes the exposure for a particular announcement.
This "consistent redundancy" ensures that most people will see and hear the message in one way or another, whether it's via email, a GroupMe post, or in-person.
The more times someone has the opportunity to see or hear about something, the more likely they are to respond, show up, and get involved.
Also, all three methods work well to grow each other. The in-person announcements invite people onto the email list and GroupMe, the email invites people to show up in person, and the GroupMe does some of both.
A Final Word
In conclusion, there is a plethora of ways you can communicate effectively with your community members. These are the main ways I I use, but honorable mentions include our Facebook, Instagram, and a website.
It does takes time and effort to grow a list of contacts and see each communication platform feed and grow the others, but once you've built it, your influence and ability to get the word out will take off.
Trust me when I say that a good use of communication today is foundational to an in-person, authentic Catholic community tomorrow.
One last tip I want to impress upon you, ironically, is to avoid "over communicating." While people appreciate helpful updates and information, spam is a major turn off.
Find a regular frequency to update your following as simply and concisely as possible, and stick to the etiquette of each method.
I wouldn't recommend a daily email, sending 20 group message per day, or monologuing in person for 25 minutes with every detail of every future event while your attendees nod of to sleep. You get the idea.
And lastly, I know full well that the way I do things isn't necessarily the best way, so I would love to hear your thoughts and methods for communicating with your community members.
How do you harness communications for their fullest potential? Let me know via our contact page.