Digital Compliments God's Call to Vocations
Social media, Search Engine, and Web Technologies are an effective way to inspire and generate new interest in vocations.
Sisters of the Holy Spirit and Mary Immaculate are a faithful and innovative congregation willing to explore new avenues to vocations knowing that God works through everything and everyone to call people to himself. The charism of the Sisters is focused exclusively on serving those in need, the poor, the marginalized, and "those denied the respect of human dignity".
Challenges & Objectives:
The Sisters needed to increase vocations in a market unaware of what it means to be a Religious Sister in America. They found that vocations had dried up and that many young people were not as connected to the church and may not know even basic religious terms but do have a sense of spirituality or prayer in some basic form. Therefore it was important to them to engage the surrounding community in a way that is relevant, loving, charitable, and yet still true to their Charism. They were facing difficult downward trends in American culture as the losses of young people exiting the Church have truly impacted vocations across the country. This is a real issue that many religious organizations face nationwide.
The Proposed Solution:
However, the Sisters were wise. They knew they must reach the young people where they were via the media. However, the Sisters also knew and understood the value of partnership, the Sisters are a busy and highly service-oriented group assisting many ministries in San Antonio. Choosing a competent media partner meant they could focus on their charism and service rather than attempting the difficult task of becoming experts on a variety of media disciplines on their own. The latter would have been a very daunting task that would have taken time away from their core competencies considering their workload and service to the community.
The Holy Spirit led us to work together after two years of video projects that were successfully used to communicate the order’s events with other Sisters doing missions in Africa.
Out of this relationship, a media partnership was born in which we assisted the Sisters with Social Media services, Search Engine Advertising, Large-Scale Vocations Campaigns, Graphic Design, Event Promotion, and Website Design and Development.
- Data exploration, research, and constant iteration yielded fruit in what works and what doesn’t in reaching young women who might be interested in religious life. We quickly found that it was better and faster to start with women abroad whose cultures had less stigma around religious life. Campaigns in Africa were born as a result of iteration and data analysis of populations in the United States vs populations abroad. This transition made sense given the Sister's presence and missions in Zambia.
- The Sisters also found that their current website was not appealing to young people but found a complete overhaul logistically unfavorable so Mastic created a new vocation’s mini-site at www.becomeasister.com that provided a clean aesthetic and real stories from current Sisters who had fulfilled their own vocation journeys. This site increased visitor retention and organization visibility with young people.
- Professional Social Media Management increased conversations, messages, and subscribers to the Sisters pages by double (specifically 2.3x) their pre-contract numbers.
- The combination of social media campaigns, website design, search engine optimization, graphic effects, and video cuts created from previous commercials we had shot on their behalf yielded renewed fervor around vocations with lively messaging and creative media that made religious concepts relevant by speaking to young people in ways they can relate to and are relevant without watering down the Sister's charism or religious identity. Each campaign yielded an average of 45,000 views and an average of 110 commitments from young women per campaign. Previous pre-contract numbers before Mastic were recorded at 2-4 commitments per year. Note: A commitment in this case is defined as a concrete form submission from a campaign where an applicant specifically states their desired intent to explore religious life and whose contact info is then delivered to the Sisters for continuous formation.
- To ensure that applicants were more likely to meet criteria and to be screened as genuine applicants, key questions were assessed and placed on digital campaigns to capture data in real time. These high converting forms asked only what is necessary to ensure form submission remained rapid and easy to complete while providing the Sisters with the information they needed to determine if an applicant was suitable to being formation.
- These lead funnel systems were continuously refined and examined through out the year in committee meetings to ensure information distributed to the public was accurate.
The Sisters plan to continue using social media, web design, and digital in general to communicate with their current community, engage with young women who may have an interest in vocations, and enhance new events. They even plan to engage young people by starting a Young Adult group that begins merely with helping young people socialize, pray, and engage with service to those in need as an easy introduction to the spirit of their charism and the congregation. Due to the Coronavirus, they've recently brought their group online which has grown steadily from its original 4 members, the transition to digital has definitely come at an appropriate time.