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Social Media Practices and Procedures Manual

Now that you’ve established guidelines for staff and volunteer leader participation online, this portion of your social media policy can describe HOW you hope to support and sustain a social media initiative. Here are some things topics you may want to discuss and document in your social media manual:

  • Publication schedule. Establish a plan for how often posts will appear in your various social media channels (e.g. one video a month on YouTube, two wall posts per week on Facebook, a Twitter update every other day). This ensures that the areas don’t become stale, and by spreading out posts you make “space” for member comments and contributions.
  • Automated posts. Automation methods can help keep your site fresh. For example, an “Announcements” RSS feed on your congregation website can automatically update your congregation Facebook Wall and Twitter feed. This acknowledges that members have different preferences for how they receive information, and you are striving to provide church information in the most convenient way for them.
  • Moderator schedule. If you are successful, members and prospective members will be participating with posts, comments on your Facebook wall, and be sharing links, photos and videos with other members. Part of the responsibility of having a social media presence is monitoring what goes on there. Establish and schedule a social media team to monitor your site 7 days a week. Not all members of the team need administrator rights to remove posts that are spam or offensive, but they need to know how to contact an administrator if intervention is needed.
  • Helpful tools. If you’re lucky enough to have several congregation staff members interested in participating online, tools like MediaFunnel and HootSuite can help coordinate and manage your social media presence by letting you schedule posts, establish a work flow and review process.
  • Talk about your approach. In the least, your social media presence might be a convenient way to get announcements out to members in a place where they are already visiting (and each announcement can be used to drive people to more information on your congregation Web site). So in addition to collecting together updates for occasional publication in the Sunday bulletin or congregation newsletter, as soon as you hear about some event, deadline, news item, update, etc., you would do a wall post on the congregation Facebook page. The best posts are ones that also invite members to comment. And the ideal site has members posting announcements and reminders themselves.
  • Developing a place for members to reflect on their faith. Is there a “member care” or “fellowship” group who could intentionally post reflections, event images and videos, and questions for member response? Maybe approach members of your adult education or learning committee to develop regular questions to post online (make sure other committee members are ready to respond with comments, in order to prime the pump). For some sample questions, check out some of the “talk bubbles” that have been posted on www.livinglutheran.com
  • Look for models of effective use of social media in congregations. One example of a congregation with well-developed e-communication tools is Zion Lutheran Church in Buffalo, Minn. (http://www.zionbuffalo.org/). A church staff person does regular Facebook posts and members occasionally comment (http://www.facebook.com/ZionBuffalo). It’s interesting to note that, in general, discussion boards seem fairly quiet on Facebook, but people are often willing to comment and “like” wall posts. Polling congregation staff and lay leaders to see if others are willing to post and comment is an important step, otherwise, by default all posts will be from you. That may be helpful for members, but not as interesting as the variety you have with many people contributing. A “Welcome” page is useful for people who may be new to Facebook. Facebook has become the most popular photo-sharing site. Zion has built up a large library of albums that help provide a window into congregational life. Facebook’s “tagging” feature lets parents or the people pictured decide if they will be identified in a photo.

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Social Media and Congregations

Strategies, Guidelines, Best Practices and Resources