Archive for Twitter

Defend our freedom to share …

On the web for the past several weeks and months, the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act currently before Congress, if passed, would have serious consequences for the internet and would change the landscape drasticly.

The real question is how should society best balance the needs of the copyright holders and the  public using the internet, when sharing content is increasingly becoming the status quo. There are no easy answers.  We all need to be concerned about how this develops. Wikipedia’s FAQ provides a lot of information.

In a talk, Clay Shirky provides some background and brings forth the real issues.


Why be on Facebook and Twitter?

Facebook has over 500 million active users – whether you think your audience is not on Facebook (you’re wrong) or you think Facebook is a fad (so what – it’s big news now), you’re missing a huge opportunity to get information out to your stakeholders, interact with your customers, and even do some service recovery & improve customer service.  And let’s not forget Twitter – it reaches around 200 million people!


Trying to stay up with all the different social media programs you have subscribed to? Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and a few RRS feeds you subscribe to? It would be sure nice if everything was in one place.  A place you can read, respond and post all on one dashboard.  Social media HootSuite offers a dashboard that brings it all together very nicely. In a short time, while you are at your home computer you can have up to five of your favorite social media streams all setup on the HootSuite dashboard. Viewing multiple social media networks on one screen is sudden very cool without opening a new page.  HootSuite lets you link up to two RSS or Atom Feeds.

Did You Know 4.0

This is another official update to the original “Shift Happens” video. This completely new Fall 2009 version includes facts and stats focusing on the changing media landscape, including convergence and technology, and was developed in partnership with The Economist. For more information, or to join the conversation, please visit and

Content by XPLANE, The Economist, Karl Fisch, Scott McLeod and Laura Bestler. Music by DoKashiteru, “Home Tonight.” Design and development by XPLANE, You can follow us on Twitter at

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
  • 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. ( A church staff person does regular Facebook posts and members occasionally comment ( 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.


Social Media and Congregations

Strategies, Guidelines, Best Practices and Resources

Elements of a Social Media Strategy

Elements of a Social Media Strategy

The resource list below has a number of good references for helping you develop a comprehensive social media strategy. Ideally this strategy will be one component of an overall communication plan for your congregation that includes all the ways you interact with your members and the community. A good strategy provides a rationale, plus some structure and foundation for this aspect of ministry. Basic strategy elements should address some of these questions:

  • What’s the plan? Involve key stakeholders in planning a strategy. What is your organizational strategy … where does social media fit in? Help the group answer the basic question of: What are your objectives? Evangelism and outreach? Information for members? Inspiration?
  • Who is your target audience? Are you primarily trying to reach and connect members, or are you primarily hoping to reach out to the community and prospective members? Most congregations are trying to reach both, but you should still describe your audience as thoroughly as possible, since you will want to target your efforts and possibly use different channels to reach different audience segments.
  • Why are we considering this means of communicating? Outline your reasons for this initiative. Social media offers the possibility for collaborating with purpose. It can extend the community that gathers on Sunday morning into the rest of the week and integrate “church life” into daily life.
  • Where? When choosing a social media platform, the most cost effective and successful approach is usually to boldly go where your members are. Are your members active on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, etc.? This may mean setting aside your personal preference for social media platform in favor of reaching your members where they are.
  • Public vs. Private space? Eventually you will probably need both: outposts where your members already are; home spaces for private groups. You can also build private spaces within public spaces (e.g. private Facebook groups). Start with where people are. If you outgrow that, consult with key users and get their buy-in before branching out.
  • Who will implement the strategy? Are you willing to shift your thinking about congregational communication, and shift your time from other tasks, to feed and monitor a social media presence? This work is a great opportunity for lay leadership, but staff oversight and some level of participation is needed. Your strategy needs to identify the human resources that will be applied to setting up and maintaining a social media presence.
  • How will the strategy be implemented? Transforming into a networked organization involves trust and getting more people involved. This is easier when you have a policy to empower staff and volunteers to communicate freely in a responsible way. Develop work flows for how information will be shared over time, and a schedule of who will monitor and support this virtual community on a regular basis.
  • How will the communication needs of all members continue to be met?  It is important to avoid creating a “technology gap” in your overall communication strategy, where members without the means or desire for digital connections are left out. Using online community to help mobilize volunteers to connect with the offline community can help fill this gap, as well as on-demand printing of some essential communications for those who indicate that preference.


Social Media and Congregations

Strategies, Guidelines, Best Practices and Resources

Defining Social Media

There are a number of great social media tutorials on YouTube and A simple view is that social media are web and mobile device-based tools for sharing. Some basic characteristics of social media include:

  • Listening to what members and others are saying, about their congregation, the ELCA as a denomination, “being Lutheran” and about what is going on in their lives. Members are able to post text, images, sound and video in easily accessible ways, so following them online can provide helpful community insights.
  • Posting useful, inspiring text, images, audio and/or video on a regular basis.
  • Commenting on the posts of others.
  • Sharing, pointing others to information and resources that may be of help to them.

Some congregations are abandoning traditional websites and doing all their online communication through social media sites like Facebook; others use their website as the place where they bring all their social media initiatives together in one spot: announcements from Twitter, calendar from Google, photos from Flickr and videos from YouTube. As Facebook features expand, it may be less necessary to use separate sites for photos, videos and groups. Facebook is already the most popular photo-sharing site.


Social Media and Congregations

Strategies, Guidelines, Best Practices and Resources

Shift Happen’s 2010

Did You Know? 2011 “We are living in exponential times”

A day in the life of social media

A Day in the Life of Social Media

How powerful can social media be? Watch and find out.