3 Best Practices for YouTube and TikTok

Rob Chagdes
December 19th, 2019

Using videos in youth ministry goes back to the days when people would start with an idea and  a camcorder with an actual video tape. In those days, you’d either have to get everything in one shot, or you’d just keep pausing every time you needed to get a new scene. Sure editing was possible, but it usually wasn’t worth the time it would take. I recall spending six hours with a student trying to learn how to edit videos using two VCR’s. Imagine trying to learn this skill without YouTube or Google to help. Ah, how times have changed!

Today we have ridiculous technology available, which allows youth workers to easily make videos for different platforms. What used to take hours can be done in a matter of minutes, and be quickly available to students. 

We have opportunities to promote events, share stories of God at work, or communicate truth. Other times we just want to create content that will make students laugh.

As we work to engage students, there are some simple things we can do to better line ourselves up for success. Here are three best practices when you make videos on YouTube and TikTok.

Clarify your goal.

It’s easy to overlook this, but it’s essential. Is your goal to engage students, reach parents or maybe it’s both? Are you hoping to inspire them to share your content? Do you want them to comment or interact with what you are presenting? If you’ll take just a little time and clarify what you want to see happen, it will shape how you develop and share your content. Think of the awkward posts you’ve seen where someone asks a question and literally nobody responds. If we are representing our student ministry, we want to avoid the perception that we are disengaged from the realities of using social media.

Keep it short.

Consider some of the best viral videos and TikTok’s you’ve seen. Take a look at how long each of those videos run. Now realize you likely aren’t as good at this as they are. As much fun as you probably had making your video, it’s dangerous to assume people will enjoy watching it to the same degree. If you are running longer than the pros, you might be missing the mark.

Sometimes we feel like we have so much to say that we justify making things longer. When we fall into this trap, we lose our opportunity to quickly engage people. Do a little research to your previous posts and figure out the length of those that are most popular. Check out what others are doing. Maybe you find that when you keep your posts under a minute, your engagement is higher than then it’s over two. Remember what you are trying to accomplish and don’t take too long to do it.

Get students involved.

This can often present the greatest challenges for youth workers. Adults are simply easier to get involved, especially if you work at a church. It’s simple to get a few volunteers or staff to step into a video. Who among youth workers hasn’t done a video walking around church including other staff who happen to be present when they are filming? We can do better. 

If we are being honest, sometimes we have more fun making the videos than people have watching them. One way to avoid this fate is to involve a student or two. Invite a couple of students to come be in a video after school. Find your technically inclined students and invite them to direct and/or film the video. Most of your students know the basics of video editing, so don’t take the time to edit videos yourself when you could be empowering one of them to use their gifts.

One Final Thought

It’s far too easy for youth workers to justify putting minimal effort into creating YouTube and TikTok content. We have teaching to write, students to disciple, and leaders to develop. Consider the possibility the things you post could have the same, if not a greater, impact as the things you say during your student ministry programs. You are reaching people where they are at, in a setting where it can have multiple views. You are presenting content to people who might never step into your building. Too often we present ourselves like this guy instead of realizing the doors that might open if we approach the process with excellence.

God has given us some amazing opportunities to engage people when they are not at church. Let’s do everything we can to be people who strive for excellence as we make our YouTube and TikTok videos and seize the opportunity to speak into the lives of students, parents, and more.

Rob Chagdes

Rob Chagdes is on staff at Prairie Lakes Church in northern Iowa. In the years since he met Jesus as a sixteen year old, Rob has spent his life working to raise up the next generation to love God and invite others into His unending story. He spends most of his free time with his wife Leslie, their three amazing daughters, and their energetic dog Jedi.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.