As churches become members of the social networking world, they will see an increase in church social media and become proactive in monitoring their online presence. Because of the many potential dangers in utilizing social networking, it is vital to take precautionary measures to guard your church from misuse. Additionally, instruct all church staff and volunteers on the correct and inappropriate use of church social media.
The possible dangers of Social Media to the Church
The first danger of overuse of church social media is that churches may be perceived as commercial entities rather than worship places. Because of this, there are many times that individuals will compare a church with a business and use church social media to comment negatively on a product or service. Because churches sponsor services through a subscription to a website, several sites allow church members to leave comments and pictures. Some of these websites, such as Facebook, have privacy settings to designate how much privacy they would like. This allows churches to communicate with their members while maintaining a professional tone.
Another danger in overexposure is that church social media can lead people to believe that the church is lacking in direction or that the church leaders are lax when it comes to morals. This can often occur after a person leaves a comments section on a social media platform’s status or picture.
While a person might not mean any harm, they may negatively interpret that person’s intentions. As a result, church members who see a trend of negative posts may conclude that the church is not as healthy as others. While most social media platforms will keep a record of their users’ activities, these platforms are not used to keep a log of what church members are saying.
Understanding Social Media is a helpful way
Because it is straightforward to go over the words or intentions of a person posting on a platform, the church needs to understand how to use church social media strategies wisely. First, the church should carefully consider what information it wishes to share with its members and manage it. Church members and church leaders must become savvy about using these social media platforms best to share information. One church recently shared on its Facebook page that it was “actively participating” in the “trending topics” portion of its Facebook page.
This is a beautiful gesture, but it must be taken seriously. The bottom line is that churches need to develop ways of operating such that they remain in step with the times and remain relevant. Second, church social media strategies should include engaging that makes the minister feel like they are just giving helpful answers to questions that customers may have rather than being on stage and promoting their ministry. Every church’s goal is to promote itself to those in their community, but this can be done more tastefully than if a church were to engage excessively.
Why there is a need for a policy?
In essence, the purpose of church social media policies needs to be both useful and understood. Effectiveness refers to how effectively the church’s social media strategy serves its members and how well it helps the church grow.
Understanding is fundamental because the church needs to know how to integrate its social media policy goals with other purposes it has to work on. For instance, a church under fire because of a controversial issue should not use a particular social media platform to campaign against the problem actively. Still, the church should work to use the platform to allow its members and other stakeholders a chance to learn more.
For instance, a church would not want to use its Facebook page to campaign against a pastor who is under fire because it could cause the potential victim of the crime to feel uncomfortable or uncertain about reporting the crime.
Address the comments posted by people
Another way that a church can use a platform such as Facebook to address these concerns is by addressing the comments posted by people who post on the wall of a church official’s page. The statements posted by people such as the church’s past pastor can be problematic, so the church should remove the comments posted by these people. The referral program is also an excellent way to propagate news and updates on your church to let more people know if you have information.
If it cannot remove the pastor’s comments, the church can take down his photo from the church’s Facebook page. This ensures that the pastor’s image will no longer appear on a page that represents the church, and the comments made by him will not be able to be used against the church.
A third strategy that many churches employ in addressing their church social media policy concerns is Facebook applications. Some churches have set up applications such as the church Facebook application to allow members to log in and manage their church’s pages. This strategy will enable members to keep track of what they have done, who they have talked to, and any information they need to know to move forward within the church. Many churches find this strategy useful because it allows them to have an official tool that they can use to manage their church social media accounts.