By ERIKA ANDERSON REDDING, Special to the Bulletin | Published June 23, 2017
COLLEGE PARK—Holding a cardboard frame, Archbishop Wilton D. Gregory beams from the Archdiocese of Atlanta Instagram account. “Archbishop Gregory is excited for this year’s Eucharistic Congress! Are you ready?” the caption reads.
In other pictures, both Bishop Luis R. Zarama and Bishop-designate Bernard E. “Ned” Shlesinger pose similarly. All photo captions end with #ATLEC2017, the official hashtag of this year’s Eucharistic Congress, which took place Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17, at the Georgia International Convention Center. And this year, the Eucharistic Congress went viral.
A special smartphone app with information about the congress was made available on the myParish app for the second year in a row, set up through the sponsorship of Diocesan Publications, a company specializing in connecting parishioners in churches around the U.S. Last year, some 600 congress attendees downloaded the app to use during the weekend; in 2017, the numbers doubled with almost 1,200 users, according to Samantha Smith, a media and communications specialist for the archdiocese.
Staff from the archdiocesan Communications Office spent the weekend making sure the Eucharistic Congress had a strong presence on social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“Social media is important—we call it ‘social media ministry,’” said Smith. “It’s an opportunity to expand our ministry and stories and reach people of all ages beyond the pews.”
The archdiocese has a growing presence on social media, with more than 8,500 followers on Twitter in English, more than 4,500 followers on Facebook and almost 1,000 followers on Instagram. The archdiocesan Twitter in Spanish has some 90 followers at this time.
The Georgia Bulletin also has a lively interactive social media presence, with more than 2,700 Facebook followers and more than 3,800 Twitter followers.
The Communications Office offered a photo booth in the hallway of the convention center, where they encouraged attendees to take pictures and use their hashtag. They also recorded the morning procession for Facebook live and live tweeted several of the speakers.
“It’s a chance to show the behind-the-scenes activities that people don’t always get to see,” Smith said.
Throughout the Eucharistic Congress, she said, they have the “most consistent feedback on Instagram,” with many attendees posting photos.
“It’s great because we can thank our sponsors through social media, and they’ll post as well,” Smith said.