Consider the following tale: Gloria works for a large and respected nonprofit organization. She tweets occasionally for the organization, but also has a personal account. One day, in an innocent slip of the fingers, she tweets about drinking at a party from her work account instead of her personal one. Not registering the error, she finishes her day as usual. June’s colleague suddenly starts fielding messages from the organization’s constituents about the, ahem, unexpected tweet. How should he react? Or perhaps this little story will capture your fancy: Tom recently Googled his organization and found that there were several blogs discussing a project his team was implementing. He was pleasantly surprised to find such an enthusiastic group advocating on behalf of his organization, but the blog was hosting by an organization with explicit political leanings, and Tom’s organization is specifically non-partisan. Should Tom take advantage of building the organization’s network and strengthening relationships with individuals who could contribute a lot to their work, or should he steer clear of anything that could be interpreted as political? How should Tom respond? Both June’s colleague and Tom could really use somewhere to turn for guidance. The way many organizations are facing these and other questions is by developing a social media policy (we recently blogged about the excellent policy developed by the Avi Chai Foundation here: “Avi Chai Foundation Gets Social”). A social media policy is essentially a document that helps define how different groups associated with an organization should conduct themselves online. It is a valuable and powerful tool. A social media policy helps outline both expectations and possibilities for social media interactions. It acts as a go-to document for any questions or conflicts that may arise. A social media policy can provide a sense of security, knowing your team is approaching social media from the same set of assumptions. It can also, somewhat counter-intuitively, foster a sense of freedom in the use of social media – you can jump into the game with more confidence when you know the rules. Perhaps even more valuable than the document itself is the process of developing a social media policy. It encourages a big conversation, an honest discussion of the values and character of your organization and how they should be reflected online. As Beth Kanter explains on her blog, “…if you want the policy to truly work, you need a process, especially if your organization is still grappling with fears and concerns.” The process can present an amazing opportunity for listening, sharing, and reflection among the people who make your good work possible. Darim is here to help you have this conversation and implement your own social media policy. That way, Gloria’s accidental tweet (a true story which you can find out more about here) and Tom’s political blog posts won’t seem so daunting – with the right approach, they can become opportunities for learning and increased connection with the people who care most about what you do. To dig deeper into this topic and start the conversation, Darim is offering a webinar on social media policies (and because it’s our tenth anniversary, you’re welcome to join us for free). Here is all the information: Social Media Staffing and Policies Tuesday, May 17, 1-2pm Register here: http://bit.ly/lZTGph And we want to hear from you! Does your organization have a social media policy? If so, what did you learn, or how did you grow through the process of creating your guidelines or policy?
Links to Blogs of Darim members and others*
JewPoint0: Darim Online's blog
http://rabbilarrybach.wordpress.com/ (thoughts, divrei torah and other news from Rabbi Bach)
http://brjc.blogspot.com/ (includes embedded videos, divrei torah, book club discussions, etc.)
http://cszpolandisrael.blogspot.com/ (Travel blog for synagogue trip to Poland and Israel)
jlearn2.0: Jewish learning in a digital world
*Not here? Email us and let us know your address; we'll add you to our list!
http://jugglingsheep.blogspot.com/ (personal productivity for pastors)
http://jrf.org/ (Jewish Reconstructist Federation)
http://jcarrot.org/ (The Jew and the Carrot (by Hazon))
Social media, like other major communication revolutions before it (think: printing press) have radically changed the way we learn, connect and organize. The impact on culture and behavior is significant – we have new ways to connect with our communities, find meaning, express ourselves and engage. The new ease of organizing is fundamentally changing the role that organizations play for their constituents. This is great news for the Jewish community, if we are able to take advantage of it.
We invite you to try a new approach to Torah study, community building, and perhaps even sermon writing in your congregation, The Social Sermon, an idea comes from acknowledging three things:
1) That many people can’t get to the synagogue for a lunch or evening Torah study class, but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t interested;
2) That people want the social experience of learning, not just passive reading or listening to a lecture, and that connection through learning enriches a local community; and
3) Social technologies can be a wonderful tool to enrich and augment Torah learning in local communities.
Imagine a Saturday morning sermon that’s the work of not only your rabbi, but you as well. Lets take it a step further: what if it weren’t just you and your rabbi, but also your fellow congregants, young and old, those new to the community and the stalwarts of your city? By the time your rabbi delivers his Shabbat remarks, he or she could be drawing inspiration from, or even representing the discussion of, hundreds of his congregants!
What does The Social Sermon look like? At the beginning of the week a Rabbi posts a question on his or her blog, or on Twitter with a particular hashtag (e.g. #CBSSS for Congregation Beth Shalom Social Sermon), or as a Facebook post on the congregation’s Page. The first post would describe a theme of the parasha, or link to some text, and at the end, pose a question.
As comments and responses start to be posted, the Rabbi then facilitates an ongoing conversation through the week — responding regularly with insight, text, links, answers to questions, and more questions to guide the discussion.
By the end of the week, several things will have happened:
- New people are engaged in Torah study. Likely a portion of the online participants are a demographic that doesn’t often come to mid-day or evenig adult education classes. (On-site classes – adult and youth – can also participate);
- Participants will have formed new relationships through the online discussion, perhaps following each other on Twitter, friending each other on Facebook, etc. which leads to ambient awareness, thus strengthening your community;
- The Rabbi will have a better understand of what aspects of the parasha resonate with the community, and be able to design a Shabbat sermon that is the most relevant for the congregation, and will have ideas, quotes, context to make the sermon even more rich; and
- More people may show up for Shabbat services, feeling more educated, connected and like they have some ownership over the sermon that week.
And for those that missed the service, they could read it the next day when the rabbi posts the sermon back on the blog or web site, with a link on Twitter and/or Facebook.
Interested? Use the SocialSermon tag on this blog to find posts about the Social Sermon, and for case studies and guest posts from Rabbis and educators who are doing it. Follow #socialsermon on Twitter for updates, links to these blog posts, and to connect with others who are doing it. Join us on Facebook to be connected others who are doing Social Sermons and get important news.
Feel free to adapt the concept — a confirmation class could do this throughout the week between class meetings, a youth group could do it with their adviser or a parent facilitator. Please report back and let us know how it’s going, and what you’re doing. Please let us know if we can help you at any stage – leave a comment here, or any other space mentioned above.
Want more “hand holding”? Darim offers hourly consulting, and we are working with interested Social Sermoners to find funding from a donor or Federation small grants program to work with a group of Rabbis in your local community. Holler if you’d like more information.
Ready, Set…. Social Sermon!
For some, social media is a bit scary because it empowers the public to voice their thoughts. While hopefully in the vast majority of circumstances this means engaging in more meaningful conversations, learning about new supports, and amplifying your message through valuable networks, it also means that critics can make their rants public. This is scary, and threatening. Partially because of the potential content of those rants, and largely because it represents a loss of control.
I often remind those concerned that control is largely an illusion — those rants and conversations happen in the parking lot, the dinner table, via email and on Facebook. The companies that have done a great job of turning around their brands (Comcast, Dell) have done so not be trying to shut down the conversation or ignoring it, but by listening, acknowledging, and learning from it. (For stories about what they’ve done, read Twitterville.)
Chris Brogan, a widely known and well respects new media marketing specialist, writes a very prolific (and insightful) blog and weekly e-newsletter. This week he talks about critics, and offers some advice :
If you are fortunate enough to have critics, you’re doing something right … I want to share with you how I deal with critics, and what you might learn from the gifts they give you.
Thank them. No matter what a critic says, say “Thanks for your thoughts,” or a variation. They have taken the time to offer their opinions, however invalid or unhelpful, with you. Say thanks. It’s the only good response to a criticism.
Don’t defend yourself. The person giving you the opinion probably doesn’t care what you have to say about it. They just wanted to share their take. You can reply and reflect back what they’ve said, but try not to defend. It only comes off as making you look defensive and it just goes nowhere fast.
Decide for yourself, in private, if you agree. You don’t have to take every critic’s opinion, but listen to whether there’s any grain of truth in what they say. I learn when my critics are my friends, but I learn LOTS when they are people who don’t much like me. Sometimes, I’m able to adapt their mean words into something of great value to myself.
Don’t just throw it out, is my point. Criticism can be helpful, even non-constructive criticism, if you are willing to hear a bit of it and throw away the junk. Thing is, don’t necessarily run around seeking it, either. It can build up like toxin in our veins, and if we’re only hearing a stream of icky things, that doesn’t help us at all.
… It took me a long while to believe in myself enough to not believe in critics. There’s a great bit from an interview (and I forget who the subject was), where she said something about really loving her positive reviews, but then her agent said, if you believe all the positive reviews, you have to believe all the negative critics. That’s stuck with me.
Personally, I’ve found most of the criticism we receive on the JewPoint0.org blog is really helpful — it teaches me where I can improve, adds value to the conversation, and often helps me identify knowledgeable folks who are invested in our mission.
How do you think about critics and criticism, whether it be on or offline? How do you use it as a productive feedback loop? How to you respond to critics? What have you learned?
Social media is all about two way conversation, simply put. Exchanges between real people, building real relationships, and finding common ground, shared interests and, in many cases, collaborating to take action together.
Oftentimes as we manage Facebook groups or blog posts or even in surveys we ask people to share their stories. “Tell us about an experience when…?” Shawn and Mark at Anecdote develop courses on storytelling, and digital storytelling. Their discovery is that you have to tell stories to hear stories. That by modeling the style, length and risks taken in talking about your own life, you given permission and frameworks for others to do the same. We take cues from our peers about what’s appropriate. And especially in online settings, many people are still discovering/learning/evolving their comfort zones and the cultures of various online forums. From their blog:
Here’s an example. When I see my teenage daughter after school I would often ask how her day went, whether anything interesting happened at school, and the standard response is often monosyllabic: yep, nup. In fact the more questions I’d ask the shorter the answers. So I changed tack and rather than ask questions I simply recounted something that happened in my day. I would launch into something like, “I met a bearded lady today. This morning I drove down to Fitzroy to run an anecdote circle for …” and immediately my daughter would respond with an encounter from her day. A conversation starts and it’s delightful.
So next time you seek to hear other people’s stories, consider how you invite them to do so. Finishing a blog post with a question or invitation is a great way to encourage comments. And also consider sharing some of yourself. Blogging is a lot about developing a community — commenting on your friends’ and co-workers’ blog posts to tell you story is a great way of establishing a norm and permission for others to tell theirs.
What approaches have you found most successful or useful for inspiring dialog in your groups and blogs?
[Thanks to Naava Frank of Knowledge Communities and Kehilliyot for turning me on to this concept.]
RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication. With a name like that, you’d think it would be so simple. While RSS can seem confusing, it really is so simple, and so valuable. Imagine a single newspaper delivered to your door every morning with articles on your favorite topics by your favorite authors. And nothing else to slog through. Welcome to RSS!
Common Craft, a great little firm from Seattle has produced a fun, short video to help us understand RSS:
I use Google Reader. There are many good readers out there, but I’ll use this as an example. Down the left side are all the “feeds” I subscribe to. When I run across a blog that I like, and want to keep up with, I click the “subscribe” button — commonly shown as this orange icon. That blog is then added to my reader.
Each morning when I sit down at my computer, I open my Google Reader. It shows me all my feeds down the left. I’ve organized them into folders by topic. The bold titles are the feeds with new posts. I can then scan the posts in the main part of the window, and click on any headline to open a new window to go directly to the blog. This way, I don’t have to remember all my favorite blogs, and remember to go to my “favorites” and take the time to check on each one, or waste time if there is no new content. It all comes to me.
I scan my feeds — I don’t read every single post of every single feed. And if over the course of time I find I’m skipping more than I’m reading, I can unsubscribe in one click and remove that feed from my reader.
This is a very useful way of organizing your own reading to keep up with the most amount of high quality and useful information in the least amount of time. It is also useful to know that this is how an increasingly large percentage of your constituents are aggregating and consuming content online. By RSS enabling your content, your readers will be alerted every time you post something new.
I add new feeds to my reader regularly, as I’m turned on to a new blog, or a trusted friend makes a recommendation. By pulling all of the greatest content together, it makes catching up on my reading a real treat — sometimes even a reward after I’ve completed a big task. What’s on your RSS reader?