Many organizations today find themselves struggling with the management piece of social networking. It’s very common to see additional accounts being created for a product, department, location, etc. It’s typical in our parishes that every ministry wants exposure. Some parishes have probably already experienced some parish ministries wanting their own Facebook Page, Twitter profile, or maybe their own website. Some have probably had them just “pop up” without anyone even asking.
There are a lot of opinions about this type of strategy. My opinion is that these “niche social profiles” (and even parish micro-sites) are not the best approach at all IF you do not lay out specific guidelines/policies, and repercussions in advance. I know “repercussions” sounds harsh but if you have 30+ ministries in a parish, you could see this become out of control within less than a week. You could end up with numerous pages and profiles with your parish name on them and you have no control over any of it. Without careful upfront thought you open the door to potentially creating more confusion in your community rather than improving anything.
Before you lay out your guidelines, it’s important to understand why this often times happens. The main reason I have found (in and outside of the parish) is the feeling of not being given enough attention. Often times their opinion is valid BUT another Facebook Page, Twitter profile, website is not the best solution. If this is widespread then it’s important to look at what is contributing to the exposure issue. For example, many ministries have events and is the main item they are trying to promote in a bulletin and what they are trying to get out in front of parishioners. Do you have a really good online calendar of events? Do you do email blasts for some upcoming event highlights each week? Are you sharing this content out in attractive and fun ways on the parish social profiles? So forth and so on. The answer isn’t always “another” but rather improving upon what you’ve already put in place.
So what should the guidelines be:
- No ministry or group should be able to create any online social profile or website without approval from the parish office
- The parish office should have an “inventory” of the sites and profiles that includes administrator access and who is mainly responsible. If it’s s self-governed organization that is associated with the parish, you do not need access but should highlight each other online.
- The sites and profiles should never be designed to appear as thought they are the parish at-large. Profile images are a big part of this (i.e. a parish logo should be used for a ministry social profile).
- Agreement that if the site or profile is not being maintained on a regular basis that it will be shut down.
Some larger active ministries (or those that are outside organizations such as a chapter of the Knights of Columbus) can have benefits for themselves and the parish to have these additional sites and/or profiles. It’s important to know who they are be “connected” (i.e. “Featured Page”) and work together. Sharing from each other’s pages, linking to items on each website in posts or ministry pages, etc. are great ways to work together very easily.
What do you think about ministry accounts and/or websites for you parish? How do you manage the program?