Social media has changed the way people find their news. With a quick Twitter search or a scroll through Facebook, users can tune in to the latest political developments, from breaking news out of Parliament House to updates from the other side of the world.
Many politicians now communicate directly with their followers through social media, bypassing the traditional media gatekeepers. Donald Trump regularly uses Twitter to send unfiltered bursts of 140 characters to his devout supporters.
Young people, in particular, rely on social media as their primary news source. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, this trend is spreading to other demographics with an increasing number of Gen Xers using social media to consume news.
The Crosslight team publishes daily online stories to help congregation members keep in touch with the Church. But these stories can easily be lost amongst the deluge of fake news, pop culture memes and cat videos that swamp social media news feeds.
The synod’s Communications and Media Services unit has created a Facebook NewsBot to help readers stay up-to-date with what is happening in the Uniting Church. The friendly UCA NewsBot will deliver new Crosslight online stories straight to subscribers’ Facebook messenger inbox every weekday.
Users can subscribe by clicking ‘send message’ on the Uniting Church Victoria and Tasmania Facebook page. The NewsBot will respond by giving you three options – subscribe, visit VicTas website or leave a message. Select ‘subscribe’ and follow the prompts to complete the process. Readers can unsubscribe from the daily updates at any time by typing in ‘unsubscribe’.
The NewsBot will also occasionally send out church-related news alerts to people who subscribe to this service. During the Synod 2017 meeting in September this year, the NewsBot will send updates when significant proposals are passed or rejected.
The NewsBot is young and still learning, so if it is unable to respond to your query it will pass on your message to one of its human companions.
Social media has become an important church communication tool, especially for young people to connect with one another outside the Sunday services. Even Pope Francis, a self-confessed technology ‘dinosaur’, described the internet and social media as “a gift from God”.
The VicTas synod has launched a new Instagram account this month to showcase stories from the next generation of Uniting Church leaders. It will be a space for young people to share their hopes and vision for the Church with the rest of the synod.
As part of the 40th anniversary, photos celebrating the history and future of the Church will also be shared over coming months. Church members are encouraged to join in the celebrations by posting photos of their congregations, accompanied by the hashtag #AllOfThisIsUs.
You can follow the synod Instagram account by searching ‘ucavictas’ inside the Instagram app. If your church is already on Instagram, let us know by following @ucavictas or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org