Social Media and Congregational Mission


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Presentation by Shelby Meyerhoff of the Unitarian Universalist Association on using social media to further congregational mission. Includes an overview of the social media landscape, a discussion of ministry and evangelism online, and suggestions for engaging with social media in safe and ethical ways.

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Social Media and Congregational Mission

  1. 1. Social Media and Congregational Mission By Shelby Meyerhoff For Mass Bay District Spring Conference May 1, 2010
  2. 2. Resources <ul><li>http:// </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  3. 3. Topics <ul><li>Technological Landscape of Social Media </li></ul><ul><li>How Social Media Can Fuel Congregational Purpose and Mission </li></ul><ul><li>Theological and Ethical Implications of Social Media </li></ul>
  4. 4. Technological Landscape of Social Media Mini-Keynote #1
  5. 5. Opportunities <ul><li>Self-publishing </li></ul><ul><li>Viral spread of information </li></ul><ul><li>Building relationships with low level of risk-taking for seekers </li></ul><ul><li>Holistic relationship-building </li></ul><ul><li>Integration into daily life </li></ul>
  6. 6. Challenges <ul><li>Growing diversity of tools and niches  decentralized audience  more effort needed to reach same audience </li></ul><ul><li>Potential decrease in control of image (personal and congregational) </li></ul><ul><li>Increase in amount of content, risk of content overload </li></ul><ul><li>Questions about how to translate real-world relationship norms into online norms </li></ul>
  7. 7. General principles for social media engagement <ul><li>Centrality of mission </li></ul><ul><li>Add value </li></ul><ul><li>Post meaningful content </li></ul><ul><li>Clarity of asks or invitations </li></ul><ul><li>Consistency of tone and types of content </li></ul><ul><li>Scheduling (days/times or frequency) </li></ul><ul><li>Healthy relationships (communal and one-to-one; safety, ethics)  clear and enforced expectations </li></ul>
  8. 8. How to choose a tool? <ul><li>1. Clarify mission </li></ul><ul><li>2. Analyze opportunities to further mission </li></ul><ul><li>3. Ask detailed questions (who, what, when, how) </li></ul><ul><li>4. Research tools </li></ul><ul><li>5. Choose tools </li></ul>
  9. 9. Analyze opportunities <ul><li>Assess your congregation’s gifts and opportunities </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Congregational leaders’ inner gifts (knowledge, compassion, humor, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Community </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Draw on existing successes while also looking for online-only opportunities </li></ul>
  10. 10. Ask questions <ul><ul><li>Who will post, is intended audience </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What kinds of content will be created/shared </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>When will content be shared (schedule), will social media presence be evaluated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How will you promote your online presence, maintain safety and ethics (keynote III) </li></ul></ul>
  11. 11. Research tools: Let’s start on this today! <ul><li>Blogs </li></ul><ul><li>Facebook </li></ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>Podcasts/ iTunes </li></ul><ul><li>YouTube </li></ul>
  12. 12. Blogs <ul><li>Good for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Exploring topics at length </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Primarily text, but other content is possible </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Archiving conversations and ideas in easy-to-search format </li></ul></ul>
  13. 13. Facebook <ul><li>Good for </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Group conversations with short comments </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoting person-to-person spread of information as well as broadcasting </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing short, frequent updates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Sharing different types of content (photos, video, links, etc.) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reaching a large potential audience </li></ul></ul>
  14. 14. Twitter <ul><li>Good for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Offering short updates </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Live-reporting on events </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Joining decentralized conversations (about your neighborhood, an advocacy issue, etc.) </li></ul></ul>
  15. 15. Podcasting/iTunes <ul><li>Good for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Allowing people to consume your content on-the-go (for example, in a car) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Providing audio-only content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Building a consistent audience for audio/video and automatically supplying them new content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reaching iTunes user base </li></ul></ul>
  16. 16. YouTube <ul><li>Good for: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Publishing videos </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Promoting sharing of videos through multiple channels (blogs, Facebook, etc). </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Other tools <ul><li>Location-based social networking (Foursquare) </li></ul><ul><li>Review sites (Yelp) </li></ul><ul><li>Mobile phone applications </li></ul>
  18. 18. Learning more about tools <ul><li>Use the tool </li></ul><ul><li>Read the help section, FAQ’s </li></ul><ul><li>Ask around </li></ul>
  19. 19. How Social Media Can Fuel Congregational Purpose and Mission Mini-Keynote II
  20. 20. Process Social media engagement Evaluation of social media experience Development of and commitment to mission/purpose
  21. 21. Process Social media engagement Evaluation of social media experience Development of and commitment to mission/purpose
  22. 22. Let’s assume the following are part of your mission <ul><ul><li>(Shared) Ministry </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Evangelism </li></ul></ul>
  23. 23. Process Social media engagement Evaluation of social media experience Development of and commitment to mission/purpose
  24. 24. Online ministry by an individual <ul><li>Simply being available in a convenient space (the internet), in a forum that people use (Facebook) </li></ul><ul><li>Share spiritually-nourishing content </li></ul><ul><li>Identifying pastoral needs and ministering proactively </li></ul>
  25. 25. <ul><li>A …reason to be on Facebook is that the people of our churches are on Facebook, from the 9 year olds to the 70 year olds…The savvy pastor can, in minutes, respond to those things with a quick click on &quot;like&quot;, or easily send a private message of support or congratulations.   </li></ul><ul><li>– Rev. Christine Robinson </li></ul>
  26. 26. Online ministry through community <ul><li>Example: congregational Facebook page </li></ul><ul><li>Encouraging participation and shared leadership </li></ul><ul><li>Offering content that is spiritually nourishing </li></ul><ul><li>Celebrating and thanking </li></ul><ul><li>Providing a holistic view of congregational life </li></ul><ul><li>Inviting deeper engagement in congregational life </li></ul><ul><li>Safe space </li></ul>
  27. 27. Online evangelism <ul><li>Ministering! </li></ul><ul><li>Being easy-to-find online </li></ul><ul><li>Making newcomer-friendly information front-and-center </li></ul><ul><li>Seeking out friends, followers, readers, etc. </li></ul>
  28. 28. Online evangelism (continued) <ul><li>Educating about our faith (can be fun!) </li></ul><ul><li>Answering questions </li></ul><ul><li>Helping newcomers connect with congregants </li></ul><ul><li>Inviting further (in-person) engagement with congregation </li></ul>
  29. 29. Empowerment of UUs to evangelize <ul><li>Discussing and modeling online promotion of our faith </li></ul><ul><li>Deepening knowledge and enthusiasm about our faith among UUs </li></ul><ul><li>Create sharable content </li></ul><ul><li>Encourage other UUs to create their own content and share it </li></ul>
  30. 30. Process Social media engagement Evaluation of social media experience Development of and commitment to mission/purpose
  31. 31. Evaluation <ul><li>What were our initial hopes in establishing a new media presence? </li></ul><ul><li>How has our content reflected our mission? </li></ul><ul><li>What content and methods have generated the response closest to what we hoped for? (Use data if available). </li></ul><ul><li>What new or unforeseen opportunities to further the mission of the congregation have arisen? </li></ul><ul><li>Should we revise and expand our initial goals? </li></ul>
  32. 32. Theological and Ethical Implications of Social Media Mini-Keynote III
  33. 33. Questions <ul><li>How can we make an online community as safe as possible? </li></ul><ul><li>How can individuals (esp. religious professionals) use social media in a way that improves relationships (rather than harming)? </li></ul><ul><li>How can we be inclusive online? </li></ul><ul><li>How do we use social media in a way that is spiritually nourishing? </li></ul>
  34. 34. How can we make an online community as safe as possible?
  35. 35. Administrative access and security <ul><li>Shared administrative access to the congregation’s social media presence. </li></ul><ul><li>Congregation’s social media presence belongs to the congregation as a whole. </li></ul><ul><li>Secure (non-guessable) passwords. </li></ul><ul><li>Back up content. </li></ul>
  36. 36. Identification <ul><li>Identification of community members may be safer than anonymity. </li></ul>
  37. 37. Confidentiality <ul><li>Treat social media as a completely public space. </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t count on 100% security even for “private” groups. </li></ul><ul><li>Ok to react to disclosure of concerning personal information by others. </li></ul>
  38. 38. Clear expectations for online community <ul><li>Covenant or social media policy for content posted on social media  build on best “real world” practices, congregational covenant. </li></ul><ul><li>Content moderation policies. </li></ul><ul><li>Enforce policies! </li></ul><ul><li>Model through personal engagement. </li></ul>
  39. 39. Sample content moderation policy <ul><li>[Congregation name] has the right to delete any inappropriate content from this page, including but not limited to: irrelevant content, hateful content, attacks against an individual, financial solicitations, endorsements of a political candidate or party, and content that violates Facebook’s terms of use, code of conduct, or other policies. Content that violates Facebook’s policies may also be reported. </li></ul>
  40. 40. How can individuals use social media to improve relationships?
  41. 41. Relationship Building <ul><li>Your best self. </li></ul><ul><li>Consistent and clear policies to “friending.” </li></ul><ul><li>“ Real world” ethical principles still apply. </li></ul><ul><li>Some conversations need to happen face-to-face. </li></ul><ul><li>Knowledge (about privacy settings) is power. </li></ul>
  42. 42. The Ten Commandments of Social Networking by Erik Resly <ul><li>1. Thou shalt not post personal information, opinions or media that compromise your ministerial integrity or the wellbeing of others. </li></ul><ul><li>2. Thou shalt not speak pejoratively of, or mention conflicts with, family members, friends or congregants. </li></ul><ul><li>3. Thou shalt not use language inappropriate for fellowship hour. </li></ul><ul><li>4. Thou shalt not disclose intimate information that would make readers feel uncomfortable. </li></ul><ul><li>5. Thou shalt not substitute electronic communication for face-to-face interaction. </li></ul><ul><li>6. Thou shalt exercise discretion and maintain professional boundaries. </li></ul><ul><li>7. Thou shalt uphold offline confidentiality practices. </li></ul><ul><li>8. Thou shalt regularly update and maintain your online presence. </li></ul><ul><li>9. Thou shalt be honest and authentic without over-sharing. </li></ul><ul><li>10. Thou shalt enjoy the benefits and playfulness of social networking. </li></ul><ul><li>See </li></ul>
  43. 43. How do we make our online community inclusive?
  44. 44. Welcoming participants <ul><li>Promote the congregation’s social media presence in other congregational materials </li></ul><ul><li>Don’t make assumptions about who can and can’t use social media </li></ul><ul><li>Offer to orient congregants unfamiliar with social media </li></ul>
  45. 45. How do we use social media in a way that is spiritually nourishing?
  46. 46. Process Social media engagement Evaluation of social media experience Development of and commitment to mission/purpose
  47. 47. <ul><li>“ I started the blog when I started a sabbatical as a way to keep in touch with the congregation. I’ve come to feel it is an important part of my ministry.” – James Ford </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  48. 48. <ul><li>Our thoughts, insights, and musings may open doors for other Unitarian Universalists to know that our denomination is open enough to hold our spiritual selves. I personally write because it helps me make sense of this crazy life we all lead. It seems that what I write helps others make sense too.” – Tina Simson </li></ul>
  49. 49. Credits <ul><li>Icons in this presentation come from: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>http:// </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>