Social Media

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Communication using Facebook and Twitter

Guidelines

Facebook and Twitter are powerful tools for reaching out and communicating with a wide group of people. They are fast, widespread and popular. But they have come with some potential risks and dangers that PCCs have to be aware of. However, the diocesan communications team recommends the use of this form of media in a strategic way and as part of the overall way in which a church communicates.

This forms evolving guidance from the diocese and will be added to and updated over time.

Download Social Media Guide

It’s part of a strategy

These media should not be seen in isolation. They link to traditional websites; blogs; photo sharing sites such as Flickr; as well as video sites such as YouTube. There is so much social media available that no one person or organisation can use it all. Churches need to consider why they want to use the social media they have chosen.

Some basic questions
  • Who are you trying to reach – is it the existing congregation or new people? Are you therefore using your site for mission and evangelism or as a good way of helping the congregation keep in contact with each other? The answers may dictate what you put on the pages.
  • How are you going to administer the pages? Our strong recommendation is that any online media is owned and controlled by the PCC/DCC (regardless of who actually does the work). You can have a number of administrators but there are some guidelines they need to think about (see dos and don’ts). We have to be clear whether the posting is as an individual or a church.
  • How are you going to update and administer the pages? Sites like Facebook and Twitter become more effective the more they are used so we recommend regular posting. This means you need to think about what you want to be saying. Clearly forthcoming events, details of services, links to your website and postings of sermons etc can be useful. Many are finding a daily prayer feed can be helpful.
  • How will you monitor and respond to comments? This media is interactive and you will get the good and the bad. We do not seek to avoid this but you will need to have an idea of how you will answer comments.
  • How do you link this to your church website? Your site can be used to encourage posts but can they be more interlinked?
  • How do you know it is working? This is linked to thinking about what you are trying to achieve.
Some dos and don’ts (avoiding the pitfalls that so many worry about)
  • Do treat it like you would your main website. Everything that goes on reflects the church and your reputation – particularly when opinions are being posted, these need to be the opinion of the PCC not the individual.
  • Do treat everything as potentially public information. There are ways in which you can restrict who is seeing your pages but if you think it is all public then you will be careful. Do not put any information on that isn’t public (or you wouldn’t be happy being public).
  • Do not put any personal contact information that you don’t want others to know.
  • Do not openly criticise or potential defame anyone (given recent publicity this is vital). Also, as some Bishops have noted to their cost, a comment put on Facebook could be picked up and used by media
  • Observe the Diocesan Child Protection guidelines for photos etc. Treat it like a website with parental permission for photos, group shots being the best and no identifiable information for the young people. Also, while this is a young person’s medium Facebook rules are that no one under the age of 13 can have an account. This should be observed at all times.
  • Do try and build a following. On Facebook this means liking pages of people and groups with similar interests and publicising your page. On twitter, follow as many people as possible and if someone follows you, return the compliment. Search out the individuals and organisations that will be useful to you.
  • Do give it a go and use your common sense.