Play Safe with Social Media


Briefing: How to play safe with social media (March 2012)
Face book, Twitter and a host of other social media tools overwhelm our electronic networks leaving many of us way behind, unsure whether it is safe to join in.
Is it safe? Should I do it?
It is important to ask both questions as a faith based organisation. There are values you will not wish to damage or lose. You will want to protect your reputation and that of your faith. Social media is only a tool. Like all tools it can be used to good effect or to damage. The decision is in the hands of those who use.
Social media is an extremely effective way of getting messages and stories about your project into the public domain. If used well it can increase your reach and your reputation.
10 principles for 10 networking fingers
Here are some principles to work to, some straight forward do’s and don’ts
1.      Do have a code of conduct for the use of social media and make sure your staff and volunteers adhere to it.
2.      Don’t post anything personal about anybody – that’s bullying
3.      Do check your posts for spelling and typing errors, it’s your organisation’s reputation remember, re-reading will often result in a better written post.
4.      Don’t post anything you wouldn’t be prepared to speak in public. If you are not sure err with caution.
5.      Do add a disclaimer to say the views of the writer are not necessarily those of the organisation.
6.      Don’t post anything critical about another organisation or individual
7.      Do think about when you tweet, when you have a spare moment at midnight everyone you want to see your tweet will be asleep! Use a facility like tweet deck to time sending tweets
8.      Don’t chat with staff or users through face book – use it as a promotional tool and a way of receiving comments about your work.
9.      Do use photos, but make sure they are properly tagged, and you have people’s permission
10.Don’t disclose any confidential information, or anything that has not been confirmed by your organisation, like a possible future event.
And some things to remember:
1.      Social networking is fast and immediate, but it pays to take time and consider:
2.      Anyone can look at your social media posts including prospective funders and partners as well as those who use your project.
3.      Increasing people look to social media and websites for the first information about a project, and first impressions count. Make your networking hospitable and friendly – just like you.
4.      Be prepared for people to say things that they might not say to your face. You will need to find ways to deal with this so use administration rights carefully and wisely, but don’t ignore criticism, it might be genuine.
5.      All your policies and procedures still apply, if they are breached through social media the consequences are the same.
6.      Social media is no respecter of time, things posted outside work hours or not on work sites can still affect your organisational reputation.
7.      Everyone is a friend or following in the social media world. Make sure you stay friendly.
Jane Winter March 2012