Kerry Dantzig, Senior Vice President
Heffernan Insurance Brokers, providing PresbyterianOne Insurance
Twitter, Facebook, blogging and other social media are commonly used and widely viewed. Churches are beginning to embrace social media and understand the potential power they hold to further their mission. However, social media must be used responsibly and with great care.
Before a church engages in social media they need to develop a plan. Questions to be asked at the planning stage include: What message is your church wanting to communicate? What are your goals? Who are you trying to reach (i.e., church members, youth, community, etc.)? Will you be including blogs of sermons or podcasts? A calendar of events?
If your church decides to jump into social media there should be a designated person or team to update the pages on a regular basis in order to keep the message clear, consistent and true to the church's mission. Remember, this may be the first point of contact for a newcomer, so you'll want to include all the pertinent info regarding contacting the church for additional information.
Some things to keep in mind:
Only those persons with written or verbal permission from management should represent the church or speak on its behalf on social media outlets. This includes the use of the church's marketing material and trademarks, such as logos.
Obtain permission for all persons in a picture or video before posting.
Represent the values and beliefs of the church. Be respectful and avoid negative or defaming remarks. Ensure that ideas and commentary shared on social media outlets are consistent with church identity and goals.
Protect all proprietary and confidential information regarding the church and its personnel and membership. This includes personal information and relationships.
Respect all copyright and trademark laws.
Those persons not authorized to publish on behalf of the church on social media outlets must note whether or not they are employed there, and state that their views are entirely their own. No logos or corporate trademarks may be displayed by unauthorized persons because doing so creates the impression that the person is speaking for the church.
Don't forget to include your congregation when designing your social media plan. Encourage congregants to participate by posting comments on the blogs & podcast or by adding the church's site as a favorite, or by clicking "like" on Facebook. With many active users your church's message should spread, and as a result your church will continue to grow!