Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Youth Ministry of Micro-Influencers

Earlier this month, we kicked off a new Focusing on Jesus series that will be discussing youth ministry through the lens of a recent study on youth and young adults called “The Influencer Report: Engaging Gen Z and Millennials.” Published by Morning Consult, the market research and data intelligence company surveyed over 2,000 13-38 year-olds and reported some fascinating observations from their findings. Be sure to bring along a friend or two by forwarding this to your youth ministers and/or youth pastor, as this will be a series of articles they won’t want to miss.

Last week we discussed “Authenticity is the Key Trait People Want,” which was one of the five key takeaways that the Influencer Report begins with. This week, we will explore another one of the five takeaways, namely “The potential micro-influencer market is massive.”

The Dawn of Micro-Influencers
In the first week of our series, we learned what an influencer was, but what is a micro-influencer? In a nutshell, a micro-influencer is an influencer with fewer followers. Whether the individual is striving to become an influencer or if they are an average social media user who is casually sharing something with their small network of friends, micro-influencers have a unique effectiveness in marketing that advertisements can scarcely compete with. It’s essentially the ancient practice of affiliate marketing, where friends tell friends about something cool they’ve found or a product they need to buy. We all have become trained to immediately scroll past an ad, however our attention is held when someone we follow shares a product or story we care about. Micro-influencers do just that, where they can reach the individuals who are usually unreachable under normal marketing conditions.

A Very Willing Youth
Two exciting observations taken from the Influencer Report show: (1) 54% of youth would become an influencer, given the opportunity; and (2) 86% are willing to post sponsored content for money. In other words, our youth are exceedingly willing to be micro-influencers and they want to share in the viral success of something (even more so if it benefits them). What this means for youth ministry is that it’s not that we need to convince our students to be active on social media for the benefit of the kingdom of God, they’re ready and willing. No, instead, it’s that we need to give them a reason and an opportunity to do so. They have the ability to reach those who are unreachable to the church. But do they have a reason to reach them or a community they can trust to help take care of their friends? If we as a church do not provide a framework for which our youth have enough freedom to become micro-influencers in the church, they will naturally become micro-influencers in other arenas.

A Shift in Ministry Mindset
How can we build such a framework? The short answer to this is that our students must be handed the reins of the youth ministry. Extending ownership to our youth will inspire excitement and pride in what they are building. As a result, students will naturally become micro-influencers. The days of a single leader effectively ruling at the helm of a ministry are fading away. While it may have been able to generate results in past decades, this leadership style is quickly losing its relevancy in today’s youth landscape. The church must explore a new approach. While sharing leadership may be recognized as the future of ministry, it is ironically a return to Christianity’s roots, where this was essentially how the faith thrived during its earliest centuries. To find out more information on how to make this shift occur, be sure to order a copy of Youth Empowered today for you and your youth ministers.

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