Test: Is Your Church Ready for Social Media?

Is your church ready for Facebook? If your church isn’t involved in social media yet, here’s a test to see how prepared your church is to get started.

Scenario #1 — Controversial Second Collections

Imagine it’s time for the annual collection for the CCHD — the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. Your parish is participating as directed by your bishop. A group of parishioners who is upset about CCHD’s previous funding of ACORN and other controversial organizations plans to boycott the collection. These parishioners are going to insert an envelope stuffer in the basket from http://www.reformcchdnow.com/.


  • If your church had a Facebook page and the discussion spilled over there, how would your church respond?
  • Who would respond?
  • How fast would you do it?
  • Who would need to review and approve the comments?
  • Would you allow all comments or would you remove any?
  • Would your comments differ whether or not your pastor agreed with the collection?

Scenario #2 — A Not So Anonymous Crude Comment

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch asked online readers about the craziest things they’ve ever eaten. Unsurprisingly, they received some crazy responses. And some crude ones. One vulgar response in particular, after being deleted, was submitted again from the same IP address. The site’s director of social media (!) saw that the comment came from a school so he called them about it. The comment was traced to a school employee who resigned on the spot. (ReadWriteWeb, ArtsTechnica, and Jeff Geerling have more on this).


  • Imagine some inappropriate comments are submitted to your church blog or Facebook page…
  • Are you going to moderate responses ahead of time? If so, who will do this and what kind of lag will you audience accept? If not, is your congregation willing to accept the crude or anti-Church comments that will inevitably show up?
  • If your pastor asks you to find out where an anonymous comment came from, what will your response be?
  • If your privacy policy says you won’t share information with third parties, does that include situations like these?
  • What would it take to ban a commenter?

[Update] Scenario #3 — Misinformed Attacks Saying Faith and Reason Can’t Exist

The tech discussion site, Slashdot.org, covered Vatican Debates Possibility of Alien Life, which led to the usual church bashing and skepticism online. But one commenter who was obviously outside the faith gave a very fair defense of the church. “Current Catholic theology is the result of about 1500 years where some of the most powerful minds of occident contributed to build a quite solid intellectual building. It might be based on nonsenses (sic) but still it’s internal coherence and its resistance to foreign attacks is quite good.” Are you ready to do the same?

[Update] Scenario #4 — Acknowledging and Responding to Criticism

Mack Collier points out a solid example of Mashable responding to criticism about their editorial decisions: they showed appreciation, calmly gave their side of the issue and explained what they would do next.  Are you ready to reply as quickly and openly?

I’ll add another scenario from my own experience. We haven’t opened up comments directly on my parish site because we don’t have the staff or volunteer personnel in place to moderate comments. One Thanksgiving I decide to open up our what-are-you-thankful-for poll to also include an editable “other” option, figuring it was a safe topic.

Wrong. It wasn’t long before someone noted that they were thankful for a victory by one particular party, which was quickly seconded by someone else. Next, someone from the other political party commented that they wouldn’t be joining our church because it had the wrong politics. Living in a suburb of Washington, DC, I should have seen this coming.

Social media can have huge upsides for churches and I want you to be successful. Just be prepared before you get started so that one early blip doesn’t sideline all of your social campaigns.

What are some social scenarios your church has faced that the rest of us can learn from?

This Week in Twitter for 11/13/2009

Twitter lists are the big news from the past fortnight (very big) so let’s see what you should be doing with said list. (But first let me say, yippee! because Brizzly’s groups are now Twitter lists.)

Ways To Use Twitter Lists for Your Nonprofit Work
Via @Twitter Tips Beth Kanter looks at ways nonprofits (hint, like your church) can use lists and she sums up what others are saying on the topic. After reading her ideas, here are some ways your church might use lists:

  • Your church’s staff and volunteers
  • Diocesan and local charities your church supports
  • Local bloggers and tweeps who cover your church

6 Ways to Look at Twitter Lists Antonella Stellacci of Snowcrashing.com categorizes the major ways you can put Twitter lists to use.

Using Twitter Lists to Judge InfluenceJudge not lest ye be judged? Not if you’re Todd Zeigler at Bivingsreport.com.

Why Twitter “Lists” Change Everything
Dave Troy says lists will rock your tworld. (He’s also a guy who doesn’t have to use URL shorteners–look at his URLs: http://davetroy.com/?p=644)

Twitter Lists Still a Work in Progress (ESPN)

Your Ultimate DC Sports Twitter List
Mister Irrelevant has all the relevant jocks covered in the nation’s capital. Maybe I can get him to come up with a list for my beloved Steelers?

Jump to a Twitter user’s lists with listbrowser.org

Most Popular Twitter Lists with http://listatlas.com

What Do Twitter Lists Say About Your Personal Brand?
Via @AndrewBates
Jay Baer at Convince and Convert lets you know it’s not just the naughty and nice lists you need to worry about.

Jan Geronimo at Waiting to Exhale takes a contrary view to Chris Brogan on the nature of lists.

5 Reasons to Use the New Twitter List Feature
Duct Tape Marketing gives you more reasons to get your list on.

Gabe O’Neill looks at the downside of lists. The lesson here is if your church gets on some nasty lists, block those haters and you’ll come off the lists.


Along with the popular lists announcement came the more controversial retweets remake announcement.

Twitter’s Evan Williams Says Retweet Will Rescue Us From Retweetarrhea (eWeek)

Was the Twitter Retweet Feature Designed to Bring Value to Google and Bing Search
Andrew Mueller says follow the money: why would such an unpopular “feature” be forced through?

New Twitter RT Link: Use Caution
Via @steveplunkett
Kathy E. Gill at Wired Pen points out that many third-party Twitter clients haven’t incorporated the new retweet option so your followers may be missing out on your RTs.

Don’t Be a MeTweeter
Whether you’re an old school RT’er or using the new beta, Twittercism reminds us to think of the audience and not just ourselves.


Keywords, coverage, location in English, unshortened link to a clear page (don’t make me suspicious of what the hidden link is), such as to your church
or to a special Twitter-focused landing page.

Twitter Co-founder Jack Dorsey On Using Twitter For Social Change (Huffington Post)

Great tweets from BlogWell from SocialMedia.org
  • @TheRecruiterGuy: Nobody at Rubbermaid is full time “Soc Media/Comm Manager”
    – AMEN!!!! Major impact doesn’t mean major headcount. Just be smart! #blogwell
  • jenamiller: Yes! Like it!! RT @PeteBosak: RT @LisaHoffman: “Change public
    relations to people relations” – @ConversationAge#blogwell
Heard from a lot of phishing victims this week. Michelle Wolverton
gives tips on what to do when someone else sends DMs from your account.

FollowerWonk.com – Venn diagrams of user’s intersecting followers
Example of a few Twitter accounts I run:


Has Twitter Flatlined?
Hey, does the growth rate really matter if it’s working for you?


If your church is getting on Twitter, be ready to do it right.

8 Reasons You Need to Stop Ignoring Twitter (WebPro News)

Pay Per Influence: Monetizing Twitter (Slides from Brian Carter)
Would this be an appropriate fundraiser for your church?

Connect Twitter with LinkedIn (LinkedIn Blog)

Whew, after putting this all together, I need to say
Rex’s Prayer for the Busy Geek.

This Week in Twitter for 10/30/2009 — Twick or Tweet Edition

Via RealEstateZebra on Flickr
Via realestatezebra on Flickr

Is that long line on Halloween leading to house that gives out full-size candy bars? Nope, it’s the crowd clamoring for Twitter lists, the hottest topic this week in our Twitter recap. As these lists move out of beta into the mainstweam, everyone’s finding it’s a great way to organize your friends and to find new folks to follow. Services like Listorious.com offer a handy list of lists organized by topic.

As you get into the spirit of All Hallow’s Eve with a gallery of Twitter pumpkins, here are some things to do on Twitter when you’re dead. Speaking of dead things, is privacy’s demise the fault of Twitter or because kids took over Twitter?







Twitter costs UK economy billions of dollars…but it also offers companies good ideas.


And let’s wrap up with this: Do you ever wonder if jack-o’lantern one word? What about trick-or-treaters? How about Twitter in one word, asked Social Media Today. What was the word on Twitter this week for you?

This Week in Twitter for 10/23/2009 – 150 Miles from Minneapolis Airport Edition

Via PH7labs.com
via ph7labs.com

Were you asleep at the controls or arguing about work policy and missed some Twitter news this week? Read on for Twitter headlines for the week of October 23, 2009.

The biggest news this week was answering the question, Who’s going to pilot our search for the latest Twitter topics? Bing declared itself the captain, but Google quickly responded with its own me-too (without a specific date, but it didn’t seem to matter).

If those absent minded Northwest pilots are looking for new jobs, Twitter can help although changing their avatar might not be a good idea (hat tip @TweetforBiz). Or was the in-flight movie that good? (Sure beats in-stream advertising, which might make you reach for the airsick bag.)

If those pilots try to go underground, take note that the CIA bought a stake in Twittering-monitoring service. But aren’t those protected tweets in fact exposed by Google asked the LA Times? Turns out the answer is no.

Maybe the pilots were location-challenged and should filter tweets by location. Or does that only work with politics? Maybe they should have spent more time at church or with the Bible.

In other Twitter developments…

Twitter Services and Apps

Twitter News

Twitter Tips

What was the biggest Twitter item that flew onto your radar this week?