Sample Social Media Policy – UU Congregation of Atlanta

Friends,  the following is the social media policy and protocols developed for the UU Congregation of Atlanta. As we learn to integrate social media and other communication tools into our ministry, having clear policies is very important.  On the flip side, we can’t wait to have every detail and policy figured out before we start. Things are changing and evolving so rapidly, you really have to start moving and adapt and refine as you go.  Best way to start?  See what others are doing!

I will be posting policy statements and other samples as they are shared with me.  If you have material to share, please email me including your name, website, and how to credit the file.   Special thanks to Tim and the UUCA team for their pioneering social media work!

Read in full below or Download as Word Document.

Make sure to take a look at their social media channels:

UU Congregation of Atlanta

Social Media Policies and Protocols for the UUCA Social Media Team, www.uuca.org.

This policy developed by Tim Atkins, Volunteer Social Media Coordinator, Rev. Marti Keller, and UUCA Staff Team.  Shared with UUGrowth.com by permission.

Table of Contents

UUCA’s Mission, Values, Ends Statements
Congregational Covenant of Healthy Relationships
Universal Social Media Practices
Facebook
Twitter
Tumblr
Affinity Groups

Mission, Values, Ends Statements

A. Our Mission

The Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta is a community of faith that encourages and supports our individual spiritual quests out of which we act together for social justice.

B. Our Values

We are grounded in the principles of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenanting with each other and other UU congregations to affirm and promote:

  • The inherent worth and dignity of every person;
  • Justice, equity and compassion in human relations;
  • Acceptance of one another and encouragement to spiritual growth in our congregations;
  • A free and responsible search for truth and meaning;
  • The right of conscience and the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in society at large;
  • The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all;
  • Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

We value

  • Community. We value the friendship, love, and caring that we find in our congregation. We value the varied parts of our community—our children, youth, young adults, not so young adults, and the adults who are gracefully growing old within our midst.
  • Diversity. We believe in and value the inherent worth and dignity of all people. We believe in this even when we are in conflict with people and value the conflict resolution process for the opportunities it provides us to learn. We value people across all racial, ethnic, and religious categories.
  • Spiritual growth and development. We value an intellectually rich spiritual environment that transforms people’s lives. We value all the performing and graphic arts as they are represented in our worship and throughout our building. We value our rituals and traditions, across the life cycle from birth to death. We value experiences for our children and youth that promote their healthy development and dissemination of our socially and religiously liberal values.
  • Social justice. We are a people moved to put our faith into action. We value our congregation’s history of involvement in social justice and community activism, and we value our status as “a force to be reckoned with” for liberal activism and justice in the wider world.
  • Involvement and participation. We value generosity and opportunities to share our time, talents, and money to sustain our community and extend our reach into the world.

C. Ends Statements – the difference we will make in the world

Acting out of our values, and in accordance with our mission, UUCA will give to the world:

  • A vibrant faith community for spiritual seekers that worship together, embracing lifelong religious learning and respecting different spiritual journeys.
  • A loving community that provides support and care for others through both the best and the most difficult of times.
  • A safe and welcoming community where all are valued.
  • Children and youth, centered in the values of our religious community and nurtured in love, who are compassionate leaders in seeking justice and peace.
  • People with a passion for social and economic justice who work together for human rights and a sustainable environment.
  • A creative community that challenges us to see the world with new perspectives and gives voice to the human spirit through music and the Arts.

We are a place where hope is born – Hope that we as a congregation, nation, and world can live harmoniously, with arms that can reach across great divides to offer support, find friendship, and make peace. We give these gifts to the world.


Congregational Covenant of Healthy Relationships

“We need not think alike to love alike.” One of our Unitarian Universalist ancestors, Francis David, spoke those words more than 400 years ago to describe the foundation of our unity as a religious community. The purpose of this covenant is to increase awareness of actions that each of us can take to nurture and support our beloved community. To this end, we, the people of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta, affirm the following Covenant of Healthy Relationships:

We will be mindful of how we communicate with and about others.

We intend to:

  • Listen actively and seek to understand the perspectives and opinions of others
  • Use “I” statements when expressing our own views, always mindful that our thoughts and opinions may not be shared by others
  • Be respectful and kind in our words, tone, and body language
  • Use email and other forms of electronic communication with respect, kindness, and special care

We will seek a peaceful and constructive resolution process when conflicts arise.

We intend to:

  • Communicate directly with the person or group involved, instead of gossiping or speaking negatively about others in the wider community
  • Assume that others act with good intentions
  • Check the accuracy of our perceptions and assumptions
  • Be forgiving and loving when we or others make mistakes
  • Apologize, when warranted, and seek to make amends
  • Call on congregational resources when help is needed

We will celebrate the diversity within our community.

We intend to:

  • Reach out to others with warmth and kindness in a spirit of welcome
  • Recognize and honor the diversity of beliefs and spiritual paths within our community, including the words and ways people choose to express their spirituality
  • Be curious, appreciative, and informed about perspectives that differ from our own
  • Honor the contributions and needs of those who have been historically marginalized in the larger world and in our congregation, and seek growth in our ability to be welcoming

We will build the common good.

We intend to:

  • Build mutual trust through an honest and responsible use of information
  • Contribute our gifts of time, talents, and financial resources
  • Encourage and support the involvement of everyone in the life of our congregation
  • Express gratitude and appreciation for the contributions of others
  • Respect the roles and responsibilities of congregational leaders
  • Respect UUCA’s established policies and procedures

This Covenant of Healthy Relationships affirms the foundation of our unity at UUCA. Our commitment to one another ensures that our community will be a safe and inspirational place in which we, as individuals and groups, can live out our spiritual journeys.


Universal Social Media Policies

Social media is often the first image our congregation presents to newcomers, questioners, and visitors.  We must be mindful of how we present our congregation through these social media channels when posting/publishing under the UUCA name.  All communication we send out must comply with the Covenant of Healthy Relationships and must comply with our Mission, Values, and/or Ends.  These should always be on our mind as we communicate under the UUCA name: we aren’t speaking for ourselves; we’re speaking as the congregation.

  • All communication must comply with the Covenant of Healthy Relationships, and we must lead by example.  If there is a post from a congregant/visitor that you feel violates our Covenant of Healthy Relationships, bring it to the attention of one of the ministers.  If they concurs it is a violation of the Covenant of Healthy Relationships, delete the comment/post in question and send a private message bringing attention to the Covenant of Health Relationships, and informing commenter that repeat offenses will lead to being banned.
  • Stay away from posts dealing with Social Justice issues unless given approval or instruction by the minister with social justice in their portfolio, or unless it is initially posted by the UUA or Standing on the Side of Love campaign.  When we post something as UUCA, it comes across at the official stance of the congregation.  If we haven’t yet taken a stance on an issue that’s available on our congregation’s website, you need to get approval before posting.   If any congregant posts something social justice related on our official communication tools, be clear that, “this represent the opinions of this individual, not the congregation,” and moderate them to make sure they are in accordance with our covenant of healthy relationships.
  • No posts advertising private businesses or political candidates are allowed under any circumstances using official congregational accounts.  Events/posts from partner nonprofits we have worked with in the past or further our mission/values/ends are acceptable unless those events/posts conflict with any policy in this document.
  • Before any posting that has a picture or image of a child, we must have a parental waiver.  If a child/youth from our congregation ever posts something that is alarming, implies abuse or suicidal thoughts, immediately bring attention of the post to the Director of Religious Education and Youth Programs Coordinator.
  • All social media outlets need to be updated regularly, preferably daily, with relevant content.  Content should look professional, be free from typos and grammatical mistakes.  All words, pictures, videos, music, and any other media must either be the original work of the poster or copyright laws and appropriate attribution must be followed.
  • Any changes made to themes/profile pictures/color schemes must be approved by the Social Media team and staff with communications portfolio.
  • Formally recognized affinity groups within UUCA may request events posted on their behalf, with a maximum of a one time a week posting.

 


Facebook

The “UUCA-Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta” facebook page is currently our primary means of social media communication.  Facebook serves three main areas:

  1. Community building, inspiration, and announcements for current members/friends
  2. Information for Visitors/Newcomers/Seekers/Questioners
  3. Outreach/Connection to greater community and denomination.

Regular posts must be made addressing each of the three areas, preferably at least one post a day.

  • Unlike other social media platforms, if someone goes to the UUCA-Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta facebook page, they will see posts we have not directly approved.  Other people can post to the facebook wall under their own names, although this does not show up in the facebook feed of our followers.  Therefore, facebook is the main social media platform where we will need to moderate posts.  Right now when anyone posts to the UUCA wall, an email is sent to administrators.  Monitor these emails and posts on a daily basis – if something is posted that violates our Covenant of Health Communications, act immediately.
  • Do not comment on other pages as UUCA.  Leave comments as “UUCA – Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta” only on our page.  Follow up comments must be relevant to the initial post/comment, provide accurate information, and have a calm, nonviolent tone.  If there is a discussion that forms over a post, do not participate in or elevate any kind of argument under the “UUCA” name.
  • Events from the weekly update, newsletter, and “Special Events” section of the website should be created on facebook as an Event under the UUCA name.
  • No more than six facebook posts should be made on a single day unless there are extenuating circumstances.  We don’t want to flood our fans’ newsfeeds.
  • Do not edit the page or add any additional facebook applications to our page on your own without prior approval of the Social Media team.
  • We have chosen to only like denomination-wide pages, district-wide pages, our interfaith partners, and affinity groups within our congregation.  Be sure when liking a page from your personal facebook account that you don’t accidently like it from the UUCA page.  As a congregation, you can like official UUA affiliates (right now the UUWF and UUSC) and other congregations that we have a current, clearly established partnership.


Twitter

Twitter is used primarily for:

  1. Outreach in our local community and evangelism
  2. Conversations with other Unitarian Universalists, congregations, and UUA affiliates
  3. Event announcements and inspirational quotes.

Twitter is much more of a conversational medium and more instantaneous than facebook.  Unlike facebook where a one-shot post approach works, twitter often involves multiple tweets back and forth with other tweeple.  Therefore, more regular attention needs to be paid to twitter for follow up replies and direct messages.  Anything we post on directly on facebook also shows up on our twitter account.

  • Feel free to Retweet messages from community partners, UUA programs, other congregations but only if they align with policies laid out in “Universal Social Media Policies.”
  • Make use of a tweet scheduler program like Hootsuite or Tweetdeck to make sure tweets go out throughout the day rather than all at once.  When using these services, be extra careful to post from @UUCA and not your personal account.  If you do accidently post a personal tweet through UUCA’s name, delete it immediately.
  • It’s both common and popular to post inspirational quotes.  Make sure all quotes are attributed, and designate which of our six sources they come from.
  • Make sure all twitter conversations are relevant to our Mission, Values, and Ends.  Do not get pulled into heated theological arguments or political rhetoric.
  • If a tweet asks for information you aren’t sure about, refer to our website publically or to the appropriate staff members in a Direct Message.
  • Don’t follow everyone who follows us – a lot are spammers.  Follow back other UU congregations and organizations, community organizations in our area, and members/friends of the congregation.
  • Use tags as often as possible, especially #atlanta and #UU


Tumblr

Tumblr is used primarily for:

  1. Graphic arts, photographs, animated .gifs, and videos
  2. Outreach in our local community and evangelism, especially to youth and young adults
  3. Event announcements and inspirational quotes.

Tumblr is mostly popular with under-25 year olds, especially early college and high school youth.  Right now it’s mostly a graphic arts medium with short blog posts.  Our tumblr account posts to the UU Blog aggregator uupdates.net

  • Tumblr posts to our facebook wall – be careful with too many posts all in a row, or it floods the facebook wall.  If there is something posted on tumblr that’s not quite appropriate for facebook (like answering someone’s question) pull up the facebook page and delete the tumblr post.  Additionally, use tumblr as a tool to schedule posts to our facebook wall.
  • Tag all of our posts on tumblr with Atlanta and Unitarian Universalism, among other relevant tags for the post.
  • Feel free to like posts relevant to UUCA’s Mission, Values, and/or Ends.  Liking posts is a way to get our name out there without it posting to our facebook wall.  Likewise, reblogging posts relevant to UUCA’s Mission, Values, and/or Ends is fine, but each of these posts will show up in our tumblr feed and on our facebook wall, so use sparingly.  Always like more posts than reblogging posts.
  • Right now tumblr is the most likely platform where we will see teenagers expressing personal pain (much more so than facebook or twitter.)  Remember that if you see anything alarming from one of the youth in our congregation, alert the DRE and the Youth Coordinator immediatley.  If appropriate to youth outside our congregation, offer them links to resources with helpful information or consoling, hopeful words.
  • If the tumblr account is clearly a youth under the age of 18, do not initiate following that person.  You can only follow them back.
  • Don’t post text-heavy items on tumblr.  Avoid posting more than three paragraphs of text, or it’s unlikely to get read.  Whenever possible, include a picture with the text.
  • Make sure all pictures initially posted by UUCA are either in the public domain, a picture taken/created by you or another member in the congregation, or used according to its Creative Commons license.  All pictures must be PG rated or under.
  • Similar to twitter, don’t follow everyone who follows us without first checking to see if they’re a spammer.
  • The prior week’s sermon is auto posted to the tumblr account.
  • On Mondays, post the Monday Meditation from the UUA, on Wednesdays post up a graphic wishing people a Wonderful Wednesday, on Friday or Saturday post up the topic of Sunday’s sermon (from the website.)
  • Remember with all tumblr posts to gear the posts, wording, language, etc. to a younger audience.  A far majority of tumblr users are 15-25.


Affinity Group Guidelines

Affinity Groups are welcome to start their own web-based communication tools, but as a congregation we do have some guidelines.

Disclaimer

On all websites, facebook pages, social media platforms, make it clear that you are an affinity group within UUCA and do not speak for the entire congregation.    Please add this disclaimer to your sites:

“Anything posted here is the sole opinion of the <group name here>, not the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta.”

  • Let the website team know if you start a website.  Only officially recognized affinity groups will have a link to their site posted on the UUCA Website.

Logo

You can use the UUCA logo on your site but cannot change it or modify it in any way without the written approval of the staff member with the communications portfolio.  We want to actively prevent any misuse of our logo.

Social Media

Let the social media team know what social media sites you are using and the links to them.  The UUCA facebook page will like any officially recognized affinity group, and will repost events when asked (up to one posting a week on the official UUCA facebook page.  We have many affinity groups and want to make sure everyone has a chance to be heard.)

  • We will retweet/reblog information when asked to from affinity groups on twitter or tumblr.

Covenant of Healthy Relationships

All online communication by affinity groups must comply with the Covenant of Healthy Relationships.  Additionally,

  • No posts advertising private businesses or political candidates are allowed under any circumstances using official congregational accounts.  Events/posts from partner nonprofits we have worked with in the past or further our mission/values/ends are acceptable unless those events/posts conflict with any policy in this document.
  • Before any posting that has a picture or image of a child, we must have a parental waiver.  If a child/youth from our congregation ever posts something that is alarming, implies abuse or suicidal thoughts, immediately bring attention of the post to the Director of Religious Education and Youth Programs Coordinator.
  • All social media outlets need to be updated regularly, preferably daily, with relevant content.  Content should look professional, be free from typos and grammatical mistakes.  All words, pictures, videos, music, and any other media must either be the original work of the poster or copyright laws and appropriate attribution must be followed.

This policy developed by Tim Atkins, Volunteer Social Media Coordinator, Rev. Marti Keller, and UUCA Staff Team. Shared with UUGrowth.com by permission.

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