This week officials from the Church of England have released nine social media commandments for their staff and clergy to abide to.
Most larger companies and corporations have guidelines, but social media guidelines issued by the Church of England see fundamental changes to the way churches are communicating.
The UK Church released the rules in an effort to respond to increasing concerns from parishioners. It’s easy to see why this might be an issue. The sometimes negative world of social media presents a unique problem to Christians and people of faith.
In some ways they’re the problems we all face on a daily basis in the internet age. Is it OK to post this comment? Will I receive any backlash from the Instagram snap? Is this blog article going to express myself clearly? These are concerns we deal with every day in the field of online reputation management.
In response to these concerns the Church, specifically the Bath and Wells Diocese itself got modern and posted its nine new commandments for the social media age on its Twitter account. It started the post with ‘don’t rush in’ before elaborating with ‘before posting always think: Is this my story to share? Would I want my mum to read this? Would I want God to read this?’
Taking God and parental authority out of the equation and replacing it with boss, CEO, shareholder etc., this is in fact a key rule for any individual or corporate professional to live by. Before posting you do need to engage your brain. You do need to consider who will be reading this. You do need to consider how this will represent you and those you are associated with. If you don’t think, you could post something that negatively affects you or your brand.
The next commandment, urging people to remember that posts are ‘transient yet permanent’ is also a key rule to live by when managing your online reputation.
When you post you think about it, you write about it, and then it’s gone. However it has the potential to stick around for ever. If somebody finds something offensive about your post they could retweet it, write a blog about it etc. and more and more people have the ability to be offended by it, damaging your reputation potentially permanently.
Another commandment that’s relevant here is that ‘you’re an ambassador.’ In this case, you’re an ambassador for yourself, those associated with you, your company etc.
If you post something negative, something that’s going to offend, then it’s not just going to reflect badly on you. Negative perception tends to reflect badly on those associated with you simply because they’re connected with you.
Without listing each commandment, others have relevance here too. Don’t blur ‘public/life boundaries’ is a good example. When tweeting or blogging for a professional purpose, making it too personal and informal can backfire on you. It can make you seem unprofessional or downright offensive if the personal content you post is somewhat controversial.
At the end of the day these Church of England guidelines for the social media age are in fact rules to live by in online reputation management. This is because collectively they highlight a core principle in managing your online reputation; always think before you post.
To find out how you can manage your online reputation effectively please contact Caroline Skipsey on email: [email protected] or phone: +44 (0) 203 542 8682.