The webinar “Social media for the Evangelization in Central Asia,” organized by the Archdiocese of Almaty (Kazakhstan) and supported by the Pontifical Missionary Union, took place online from 1 to 5 February 2021. The initiative was born from the desire to train young people and pastoral agents in the five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan), to the knowledge of digital tools, fostering a mentality that considers communication and the mass media as an opportunity to proclaim and spread the Gospel. This goal has led to the development of a program that has covered the different aspects of communication on the web, especially through social media.
The theme of the first meeting was “Web and Social Networks: Opportunities, Risks and Responsible Use.” Dr. Laura Fracasso, Social media manager and digital strategist, illustrated the peculiarities of communication mediated by social media, with an in-depth analysis on the opportunities, but above all on the risks associated with the personal use of these channels.
The second webinar was split into two parts. First, Dr. Fracasso spoke on the theme “The Different Social Media and their Peculiarities.” Each social media is unique and requires a different management, because although the general structure and the underlying logic are similar, each social network has different characteristics. Consequently, the contents, form and themes must be studied and planned time after time. The second part, presented by Dr. Anastasia Krivonos, graduated in Philology at “Kazakh Ablai Khan University of International Relations and World Languages” and Communication Manager at Caritas Kazakhstan, was dedicated to the analysis of various case studies concerning social media in Central Asia, with a particular focus on non-profit organizations and the local Church.
On the third day, Prof. Juan Bautista Narbona Cárceles, professor in charge of the Faculty of Social Communication of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, spoke about “Elaborating a Digital Strategy: Channels and Methods.” He explained how to coordinate work in the different digital channels in order to communicate the same message. In particular, the speaker focused on must-do things for those who manage the social channels of an organization or any institution that wants to communicate their message to the public must do.
The fourth webinar was presented by Dr. Chiara Landi, PhD in Communication, Marketing and Social Research at “La Sapienza” University of Rome, and head of the Pro Format Communication Digital Department. She dealt with the theme “Social Advertising: How to Create Paid Advertising Campaigns and Obtain Results with a Minimal Budget,” considering the dynamics of sponsored ads, useful tools for the pursuit of awareness, engagement and promotion of projects or products through social media.
The latest webinar, “Blog and Journalistic Writing for the Web”, held by Dr. Paolo Affatato, journalist and essayist, head of the “Asia” editorial team in the Vatican news agency Fides, provided participants with the knowledge and skills to write effectively for the web and to spread the contents of their own blog through social media. The initiative ended with a speech dedicated to the value of human relationships on social media, as a tool for evangelization and presence in the digital world.
The concluding session was entrusted to Fr. Leopold Kropfreiter, S.J.M. national director of the Pontifical Mission Societies in Kazakhstan, who spoke on the theme “The Mission of the Church in the Digital World and the Pontifical Mission Societies in Central Asia.” The report outlined the need to cultivate, in the digital environment and with all different tools, a constructive and dialogical communication, which avoids hostile words, fake news, and aggression. Finally, the speaker presented the pastoral structures and activities of the Churches of Central Asia and their missionary actions, supported by the Pontifical Mission Societies network.