As more and more Church organizations recognize the importance of having a presence on social media; as they experience pressure from members to “get with it;” and as some staff and members already are starting blogs, Facebook pages, etc., and commenting on others’ pages, there is a legitimate concern about protecting the organization’s good name. According to Charlene Li, in her book Open Leadership, the best way to do that (and actually use social media) is to establish clear policies on the use of social media by staff, employees, and members. The policies need to be clear and enforced. When accepting comments from others—it is also good to have guidelines for those who make the comments. This allows the organization to exercise quality control and lets the employees, staff and members know the guidelines under which they may use social media.
In June 2010, the Department of Communications of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops published guidelines for writing social media policy. “These guidelines are offered as a synthesis of best practices. They include material compiled from church entities, for-profit corporations, and non-profit organizations.” They are quite well done. You can access them by clicking here.
The parish of St. Thomas the Apostlein Naperville, IL, has a Parish Policy on External Communications which includes policies regarding their social media sites. This is an excellent document and I encourage other parishes to consider developing a similar policy statement. You can download their document by clicking here.
Catholic Relief Serviceshas an excellent Facebook page and they provide Comment Guidelines in their notes section. You can read those by clicking here.
As part of an online supplement to her book Open Leadership, Charlene Li provides a Social Media Directory with social media guidelines from more than 100 profit and non-profit organizations. I have provided a few links below, but you are free to examine the rest by clicking here.
As always, your comments and questions are welcome.