Policy and Guidelines
Ministries are devoting more and more time to crafting an effective online presence—a process that can be as stressful as it is fun. In the effort to create engaging Facebook posts, to determine which platforms are best for your ministry, and to train staff and volunteers to manage accounts, it becomes clear that approaches to social media must be as organized as any other aspect of ministry outreach and marketing.
Social media presence is more than just marketing in terms of promoting ministry events and programs. It is about using digital spaces to build real-life relationships. Social media allows ministries to meet people where they are (online) and engage them in such a way that real-life relationships are formed, strengthened and expanded. To do so effectively, staff and volunteers need to be on the same page in creating a strategy that works for your specific ministry.
Voilà! Here is your Social Media Policy and Guidelines Agreement (template). Policy doesn’t sound fun, but it creates a foundation on which much fun can be had while moving toward a unified goal and vision for successful social media strategy.
Staff and volunteers come with radically diverse experiences managing and using social media. A social media policy and guidelines agreement is an excellent tool for getting people on the same page and in agreement with how to engage social media platforms for a ministry. The template provided by Unity Worldwide Ministries (download in the paragraph above) is one that can be easily modified for your ministry needs, and yet is comprehensive in covering important ethical as well as practical considerations. You can download the policy, insert your ministry name in the highlighted fields, and amend it as needed (perhaps by adding your ministry mission/vision/values, for example).
This policy will ensure that staff and volunteers will create cohesive messages that reflect Unity values while spiritually supporting community members who follow your ministry’s social media presence. When staff and volunteers feel supported, they will then feel free to unleash their creativity and have fun creating engaging, inspiring and informative posts.
The policy provides your social media team with clarity around important ethical standards. These standards will of course reflect those already in place for your staff and volunteers. The social media policy addresses copyright, photo release and communication standards that are specific to online participation. If your ministry does not already have a photo release form available, you can adapt this Photo Release Template. In addition to having photo release forms completed by congregants, it is critical that your social media team realizes the importance of protecting identities of youth.
Congregants are able to “tag” themselves in your photos on most social media platforms. Allowing them to do so has the added advantage of encouraging people to engage with your social media platform—while they tag, they just might share!
Copyright standards are another important ethical matter that is often overlooked in online participation. Given the ease of sharing content, it is easier now than ever to avoid copyright infringement.Be sure your team is consistent in attribution of quotes and photography. Unity Worldwide Ministries produces digital posters and videos that all members are able to use on websites, social media platforms and electronic communications. This is our way of providing quality content containing Unity messages for our ministries.
The best way to use digital spaces to build real-life relationships is to be social (just like in real life!). This means that it is a good practice to link, like, comment, share, post and re-post not only on your own platform, but on other like-minded platforms. Share an article from Unity Leaders Journal, share a post from Daily Fillmore or Silent Unity, re-tweet an iYOU tweet, comment on your region’s blog, or like photos or posts shared by other regional ministries. Use digital spaces to engage in community by sharing ideas, contributing to conversations, and showing support. You will see the energy returned to your platforms by others and it will transform into real-life relationships.
Social media is part of the greater conversation and is a place where people are already connecting, absorbing information, and learning about your community. They will see with whom and how you are connecting and your online behavior will be part of what shapes early impressions about your ministry. This is a wonderful opportunity to shape your online identity in such a way that people feel invited, involved and eager to be engaged in your real-life activity.
I am holding a vision with you that, through social media platforms, you and your social media teams are touching, healing and inspiring people to participate in your real-life spiritual communities. Together, may we reflect the light of God in digital spaces as in real life, knowing that we are spiritual beings having a digital experience.
Children & Teen Social Media Policy This document recommends policy for those using social media with minors.