Who is looking after your parish social media and are you confident that they know what they are doing? This is a question I have addressed in the past in this column but some recent postings on some parish social media accounts have promoted me to revisit the question again.
When did you last take a look at your parish social media accounts? Do you check what content is being posted in the name of your parish? Do you have a posting policy for the platforms that your parish is on? Do those managing your Facebook page understand Church safeguarding policies when it comes to posting images of children?
The reason I am coming back to this issue is because I have noticed a trend on some parish social media accounts in recent weeks and months. The issues range from using parish social media to promote personal agendas to the sharing of photos of primary school children giving their name, school name and the names of their parents and grandparents! In other incidences you wonder if you are following a faith account or just another community account posting updates about local road closures. Where has the faith gone?
These issues are thankfully few and far between and may simply be because the person or persons looking after your accounts have not received guidelines and/or training on how to be parish on social media.
A definition of parish
This is a really wonderful definition of parish: The parish is where the Church lives. Parishes are communities of faith, of action, and of hope. They are where the gospel is proclaimed and celebrated, where believers are formed and sent to renew the earth. Parishes are the home of the Christian community; they are the heart of our Church. Parishes are the place where God’s people meet Jesus in word and sacrament and come in touch with the source of the Church’s life.
If you look through your parish social media posts over the last few weeks and months – can you honestly tick many/any of the above boxes? Are those people following your parish Facebook and Twitter accounts “meeting Jesus in word and sacrament” in what is being shared online?
Here are some to pointers on being parish on social media and setting some guidelines in place.
Firstly, a quick 10 point checklist for those managing parish social media accounts
1. Ponder before you post. Think before you Tweet. Think inspiration before sharing on Instagram
2. You are what you share – be careful how you represent yourself online if you are a parish, diocese, etc.
3. Do not be someone who creates or spreads fake news – this includes fake virus warnings, fake hacking claims etc
4. Share without expectations of Retweets or Likes. Don’t be tempted to spam or overshare. It takes time to build your community and less is always more.
5. Give guidelines and training to those managing your accounts.
6. Share digital smiles, engage calmly and respectfully.
7. Examine all aspects of a photograph before hitting share. Be aware of safeguarding policies on sharing images of children on a parish social media account.
8. Check Spelling and Grammar and DO NOT WRITE IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE THAT TRANSLATES ONLINE AS SHOUTING!
9. Don’t add people to groups without their permission.
10. Use tagging and hashtags #wisely and #sparingly and don’t tweet all at once – schedule or space your posts over the day/week.
This article originally appeared in the ‘Get Connected’ column in Intercom Magazine and is shared here with the permission of the Editor.