Why You Need a Church Social Media Policy
With billions of active users on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, social media isn’t just critical—it’s here to stay. That said, you’ll need a church social media policy to ensure your team is on the same page when it comes to posting, guidelines, and responsibilities on various platforms.
Because you’re here, you know social media is vital to the life and growth of your church. It’s an important tool used for sharing information about your church and reaching the unchurched.
More and more churches and ministries are on social media platforms regularly to communicate, promote events, generate awareness, and highlight programs—and this is great news!
However, there is bad news. As social media communications increase, so do roles and risks.
Okay, maybe this isn’t that bad of news, but it does leave you with additional tasks to manage and things to consider.
You need to develop a social media policy for your church staff and volunteers. A policy is essential to helping your team navigate situations, understand roles, and build a respectable reputation online.
Do you have guidelines that answer the following?
- How do you handle undesirable comments?
- How do you keep communication open yet maintain healthy boundaries?
- How much information do you share with the audience?
- Can you share material that contains copyright?
- Do you interact with an online youth group differently than an adult group?
These are all questions your church social media policy needs to answer.
What Is a Church Social Media Policy?
In short, it is a list of guidelines for how your church leaders, employees, and volunteers should conduct themselves online regarding what they post for your church or on their private social media accounts.
Those involved in your church must see the value of developing and maintaining posts and images that are respectful and engaging.
In other words, Philippians 4:8-9 can be a reference point when creating a church social media policy.
5 Reasons You Need a Church Social Media Policy
- Protect your church’s or ministry’s reputation. Policies help maintain positive relationships among your volunteers, leaders, supporters, congregants, and social media followers. When clear and concise social media policies are in place, it provides boundaries so that online interactions are positive, thus protecting your church’s or ministry’s reputation.
If there are personal posts belonging to your employees or volunteers that go against your church’s mission or vision, it can cause damage. A policy can also communicate expectations for personal accounts that safeguard your church’s reputation.
- Avoid liability. You could be held liable if your employees, volunteers, or followers post or do something that causes harm, breaks the law, and is tied to you in a negative light. A policy will protect you from being held liable.
- Promote productivity. Productivity is easier to manage with clear guidelines. A policy can answer questions that your social media manager, content creators, and volunteers have regarding responsibilities and roles.
A social media policy for your church spells out guidelines, eliminating confusion and creating a more cohesive social media strategy and execution plan.
- Keep conversations relevant. Social media managers face the problem of managing conversations. The comments and replies can quickly go down rabbit holes and miss the intended purposes. A set of rules ensure that conversations stay relevant and increase your impact.
- Ensure safety. Additional safety guidelines are required the more technological advances are made. You will want to ensure your church is a safe place for children, teens, families, and elders. When safety is a priority, your congregants, supporters, and employees can experience godly fellowship.
5 Types of Guidelines to Include in Your Church Social Media Policy
The following is a list of guidelines to consider when developing a church social media policy.
- Guidelines and tips for posting. Provide guidelines and parameters that will help the social media manager or poster know what content to post. Consider developing a list of questions such as:
- Does this reflect our church vision, mission, and message?
- Is this something others are likely to share?
- Am I rotating types of posts such as long-form posts, images and graphics, blogs, and videos?
- Guidelines for monitoring social channels.
- Establish a timeframe for the church to respond to questions and comments.
- Develop a protocol for how to handle negative comments or threats. (We suggest taking concerns to a private message.)
- Determine how quickly inappropriate content is to be removed and who is responsible for it.
- Decide which social media platforms your church will use.
- Guidelines for communication.
- Share what has been stated or confirmed at the pulpit or in other church communications.
- Establish guidelines on how and when to notify parents of social media channels used by the church for youth groups. Invite them to join.
- Set guidelines on how and when to interact with youth or minors, such as accepting friend requests, managing private messages, etc.
- Decide if social media posts will be done through a scheduler. If so, determine how the manager or poster will quickly pivot a message if an emergency arises. A great example of a situation that creates a need to pivot would be the coronavirus pandemic.
- Guidelines for social media groups.
- Determine the types and number of groups your church will create.
- Ensure you are communicating rules and expectations to the group members.
- Determine how and when you will welcome new group members.
- Consider who will manage each group.
- Establish privacy settings.
- Determine what constitutes removing someone from a group.
- Guidelines for images.
- Images are a great way to start building brand recognition. Consider a consistent color theme and font to use in print, on the web, and in social media.
This is a list to get the wheels turning for your church’s social media policy. Think about scenarios that have come up in your church that have been difficult to navigate. Consider how those same situations transfer to an online setting and prepare ahead of time so you can respond, not react.
It can be overwhelming to think of every possible need. Therefore, consider the basics when beginning the creation process for a church social media policy.
Before developing a policy, it is worthwhile to understand how social media operates and what mistakes to avoid so you can leverage this powerful tool to grow your church, spread the gospel, and encourage others.
Sign up for our free social media webinar 4 Critical Mistakes Most Churches Make with Social Media HERE. Avoid common social media mistakes, get ahead of the game, and have confidence in your social media strategy.