Social Media Policy for Staff (before they get nearly naked this summer)
I’m so glad to be moved into my new house and settling in nicely. That can only mean that I’m now able to get back to talking church comms with you guys and podcasting with muh frinds. Join my Facebook group so you can see the tour of the house later this week!
So let’s get to it.
It’s summer. That means everyone’s favorite excuse to get nearly naked on social media is here! I live in Texas, and man, it’s hot. Unfortunately, much like Halloween, some folks like to use the heat as an excuse to put on as little clothing as possible.
Not this fella. Nobody wants to see that. I don’t even want to see that.
So what do you do when a staff member or well-known volunteer snaps a few photos of their girl’s trip to float the river in their bikinis while holding beers? Or when a few staff families get together at the pool and document the event, hairy chests and all. (Pro tip: Never grill shirtless. Trust me.)
I’m not sure where your church stands on drinking, but that’s not really the point. The point is that as a staff member, there are certain levels of representation that you inadvertently (or directly) agree to when you accept a church job. And we all know it.
So what kinds of policies for staff member’s personal social media can you really enforce? Me personally? I’m more in the “don’t tread on me” camp where we tell them the general guidelines and only address the real problems. But you may be a little more strict than that.
The Basics of Staff Decency
I think it is fair to ask your staff to not post photos of themselves in swimwear. This goes for shirtless dudes too. If women are expected to be somewhat responsible for curbing the male sex drive, it’s only fair that the fellas keep their pex in check, too.
Personally, I would also call for a ban on photos of alcohol, holding alcohol, or drinking alcohol. But your church may not be wired that way. Even if you allow it, I would still talk to staff about the spirit in which they include it. If your youth team are at a bar and look dook-faced holding tallboys, it’s not the alcohol in question, but their responsibility and maturity.
Then there’s your obvious ban on swear words. Even if you don’t mind the words for your staff, there could be someone who is outside the church that may not be so gracious. Here’s a list of what I call “semi-swears” that might be ok:
Dang, dang it, shoot, crap, heck, fart, and Microsoft.
You get the picture.
The Other Stuff
Let’s just agree that no one’s political ideas are being changed on social media. Maybe in Messenger, one on one, but not in the comments section of an article you shared after being enraged by the headline and reading no further.
We stay away from being too political on our social media accounts. We don’t shy away from tackling issues that are important though, such as gun violence and ending human trafficking. When people ask us what our stance is, we always keep it clear that we’re about what Jesus was about: winning the hearts of people to Him. We offer programs for recovery from addictions and depression and have licensed counselors on staff or in our contacts list. We give out the number to call for those considering suicide.
But we never make it about what one political party said about the other. It’s not worth it to bring that stuff up. You may not like that. Well, tough Microsoft.
Basically, you want your staff to represent your church as best they can. Sometimes they run a fitness coaching business and get clients by showing the results of their workouts by snapping selfies in their activewear. You may have to give a pass there, especially if they are only working part-time for you. You can’t be a dictator about this kind of stuff.
However you do need guidelines so writing some of these up in a simple way is good, but getting in front of your staff and explaining the heart behind these policies is better. Let them know that it’s not in response to anyone and you’re not the dress code police, but try to help them understand that in order to maintain influence, we have to be above reproach.
Above reproach means that someone can’t even bring an accusation against your church without being laughed at because your reputation is so good. Chances are, you’ll end up in somewhat of a scandal anyway because someone thought your music was too loud or that having haze machines actually summons Arktazo, minion of Beelzebub to your services (don’t worry, I made him up).
Don’t feed Arktazo ammo. Ain’t nobody got time for that Microsoft anyway.