People are talking about your ministry, both within the walls of your organization and outside as well. It can’t be helped nor stopped. But, it can be managed, if necessary, and with wisdom.
Having a Social Networking Policy and Usage Guideline for your Church is only needed if the ministry decides that it is needed; there are a number of church’s that don’t have one and they’re doing just fine without it as well. It’s up to you.
But, assuming that you’re moving forward with creating one, for whatever reason, here are some things to consider:
- Define – Make sure you define what “Social Networking” and “Social Media” is to your organization specifically so that every one knows exactly what you mean when you use the terms. You can be as specific or as general as necessary.
- Purpose – Make sure that you have a clear and defined reason and purpose for the policy and guidelines. The question that may arise is “Why have one?” You need to be able to answer that appropriately.
- Benefits – Make sure you innumerate the benefits of not only Social Media and Social Networking but also the benefits of having a policy as well. Focus on the positive and how it can be extremely beneficial to not only use it but manage it wisely and appropriately.
- Audience Matters – Make sure to consider all parts of your audience, from those that “get” it to those that may be “new” to it. Make sure you can account for your audience and provide guidelines that matter to both.
- Educational Opportunity – Make sure that you present a clear stance and platform for educating your staff. This is a great opportunity to teach as well as “preach” to them.
- Rights and Privileges – Define these, if you can, and if necessary. What are you able to do versus what you can’t do.
- Contextualize – Sometimes you may need specific guidelines per ministry segment. Some guidelines may be different for those engaging with young teenagers in social networking as opposed to just engaging generally.
- Legal – Make sure you take into consideration the legal ramifications of not following some governmental laws. Also, make sure that you can pull from the Terms of Service and Privacy Policies of the Social Networking services that you congregation and staff use.
- Connection and Community – Ultimately social networking is about connecting and community. Make sure to tie it back to this and to acknowledge this powerful fact.
- Confidentiality – Make sure to touch upon proprietary information as well as confidential information that may be at risk. Make note of what this information is and where/when it can be shared.
- Productivity – Talk about productivity in terms of social networking. We all know how quickly these sites can take away from our busy work days.
- Value – At the end of the day this policy should create value, not limit it or discourage it. Can you say that your guidelines made things “better” or “worse?”
Anything else would you add? Are you going to have one for your Church? Do you see it as necessary?