Many of us use Social Networking sites to stay in touch with our congregations, our family and our friends. I recently found this on the website of another one of our Conferences and thought it worthwhile of passing on:
1. The cardinal rule of social networking [the word that refers to the use of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, Linked In and other sites] is never post anything that you don’t want to follow you for the REST OF YOUR LIFE. It’s very hard to call anything back on such networks, and even if you are using privacy settings, it’s not impossible that someone somewhere will find out that you called your consistory president a “pig-headed pain in the neck.”
2. Expect that in this day and age, when you send your profile to a potential new calling body, the first thing they are going to do is a “Google search” on you. Therefore, you don’t want the first thing they learn about you to be the number of hours a day that you play “Farmville.” Don’t say anything nasty about anyone. And lay low on how much of your political opinion you post.
3. In a related fashion, if you have “friended” someone, they will be able to see whether you are online whenever they open Facebook [this is also true for Skype]. Thus, if you are spending two or three hours in the middle of the day on Facebook, someone somewhere is going to know this. The use of social networking sites can be hugely addictive. You should set a contract with yourself about how many minutes a day [please not hours!] you will devote to social networking.
4. Really, nobody wants to know EVERYTHING you are doing, or EVERY opinion you have. Try to post only when you have something you really want to share, not when you are bored.
5. An alternative to friending members of your congregation [which is really not such a hot idea] is to create a “Fan Page” for your congregation. In fact, in this electronic age, it’s a great idea for congregations to have a fan page, and to encourage members to check it regularly for notices of meetings, activities, happy events such as baptisms, weddings and mission trips. Your members can go there and comment or add more information. BUT, don’t post information on anyone’s surgery, medical problems, etc. [at least not without getting permission first.] HIPPA notwithstanding, you’re just going to plain make someone mad.
6. Create a separate fan page for your youth group. They’re not going to use the church page, and in fact they deserve a spot of their own. Don’t “friend” members of your youth group unless they suggest it. Instead, check the fan page regularly to see what they are saying. Encourage them to have fun but be respectful.
7. Bear in mind that the term is “social” networking. Don’t do business on any social networking site. Don’t expect people to get messages and respond in a timely fashion. Don’t send something important that should really be communicated by email, phone or letter. Share photos, share birthday greetings, and have fun.