About the Author
Shelby Meyerhoff

Sample content moderation disclaimer for congregational Facebook Pages

If you are looking for a content moderation policy to help guide Facebook Page administrators, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church has provided an excellent sample.

In addition, many congregations may find it useful to post a public disclaimer in the “General Information” section of the “Info” tab on the congregation’s Facebook Page. (My recommendation is to begin the “General Information” section with upbeat information about your congregation, then to add the disclaimer farther down in the “General Information” section.)

Congregations are more than welcome to adapt the content moderation disclaimer which is currently on the Facebook Page of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). It reads:

About this page:

The UUA welcomes all people to contribute to conversations on this page and to share content directly related to Unitarian Universalism. Wall posts, comments, photos, and other content posted on this page are expected to be relevant and respectful.

The UUA has the right to delete any inappropriate content from this page, including but not limited to: irrelevant content, redundant content, hateful content, malicious content, uncivil or disrespectful content, attacks or complaints against an individual, financial solicitations, endorsements of a political candidate or party, and content that violates Facebook’s terms of use, code of conduct, or other policies. Content that violates Facebook’s policies may also be reported.

In the case of the UUA’s Facebook Page, “irrelevant content” is generally considered to be content that does not directly relate to Unitarian Universalism. If your congregation’s Page is intended to be a place for discussion about a wider variety of topics, you may wish to strike that phrase or develop a different definition of relevant content. That said, the rest of this disclaimer offers a good starting point for congregations looking to encourage respectful and positive contributions to the congregational Facebook Page, and to identify and discourage inappropriate content.

Meetup.com helps small congregation build community

Guest post written by Rev. Amanda Aikman, consulting minister at Skagit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Mount Vernon, WA. Her congregation’s Meetup Group can be found at http://www.meetup.com/Skagit-Unitarian-Universalist-Fellowship/

When considering an online solution to communicating with the members of our UU fellowship, we decided to use Meetup.com

Our congregation is small (sixty-five members), semi-rural, and far-flung. We wanted to create more community-building activities, classes, etc., both at the church and in the communities where members live. But it is hard to get people together for anything besides Sunday morning activities. Also, we wanted to empower all members to suggest and initiate activities without having to wait for leadership to come up with them! Another factor was the digital divide; many older members were not active online.

Many people recommended Facebook to us, but we wanted to explore other solutions that would help us with community-building and that would not require a lot of maintenance. (We do expect to add Facebook at some point.)

Meetup has turned out to be a very good solution for us.

Because Meetup is designed specifically to get people together in person, there is a minimum of chat and a maximum of planning.

It is extremely easy for any person designated as a Meetup “Assistant Organizer” to announce an activity and get a reading of how many people are interested and likely to attend. I have made every Meetup member who is also a member or friend of the congregation an Assistant Organizer. Activities can be planned far in the future or on the spur of the moment.

The Organizer has total gatekeeping power. In our case, the organizer is the minister (me), but this job could be shared between several people. We decided to set up our Meetup group so that anyone from the public can see what’s going on, but only people who are known can join the group.

Because Meetup is geared toward improving the quality of events, attendees can rate the events afterwards, make comments and suggestions, and post photos.

Because Meetup has no ads, our Meetup Group costs $15 a month. This has been well worth it for us.

It’s easy for members to set their email preferences and the like.

It was extremely easy to set our Group up and it looks quite nice.

A small but real bonus is outreach. If someone is looking at Meetup for activities in their neighborhood, or looking for Unitarians, they will easily find our church. To try it out, browse to “Meetup.com” and enter “Mount Vernon, WA” and “Unitarian.” Or just browse Meetup Groups near Mount Vernon. You will find Skagit Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.

There are some potential disadvantages to using Meetup:

1.  Cost.

2. The fact that the recent redesign by Meetup took away several desirable features, most notably a format that showed the discussions in a column beside the Meetup announcements. (Grrrr.)

3. The fact that it takes some cheerleading and education to get people to join.

We now have a critical mass (a little over half of our church membership is on Meetup). Activities generated via Meetup are then put on the church calendar, announced on Sundays and in the newsletter, etc., so that everyone – whether they are internet-savvy or not – benefits from the Meetup activities.

I would be more than happy to discuss or explain Meetup to anyone who is interested.  It has been a real boon to our congregation – almost like having an extra staff person!

Video: Challenges and Opportunities of Social Media

Following up on yesterday’s post offering a video  from the Massachusetts Bay District 2010 Spring Conference, a second video from the conference is now available. This one provides a basic overview of the opportunities and challenges of using social media in congregations. Unlike the previous video, it focuses primarily on determining a content strategy and choosing social media tools. Topics covered include:

  • Building online relationships with seekers and newcomers.
  • Grappling with a growing diversity of communication tools.
  • A quick overview of when and why to use the following tools: blogs, Facebook, Twitter, podcasting, and YouTube.