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?
Cross posted from Allison Fine’s blog, A Fine Blog In partnership with my friends at Personal Democracy Forum, I have had the great pleasure of working with the Avi Chai Foundation since last May. Our engagement has two sides; working with the foundation staff to help them use social media, and developing efforts to strengthen the ability of their grantees and community, particularly Jewish day schools, to become more adept at using social media to build and strengthen their own networks. The foundation has been very courageous and forward thinking about using social media. They are sunsetting in 9 years and want part of their legacy to be a growing “tribe” of Jews that are connected with one another and Judaism. It’s a fascinating notion. They’re not interested in leaving buildings and legacy organizations but want to leave the capacity of a network of people to continue to grow and thrive. We are beginning with a set of experiments with day schools including a training academy for which we will have the great fortune of working with Darim Online, a video contest and online fundraising match. The foundation has taken concrete steps to enter the social media waters. Staffers have started tweeting. Deena Fuchs, the director of special projects and communications, came up with a great idea yesterday. For the next two weeks, the staff is going to have a contest to see who can gain the largest number of new friends on Twitter. We couldn’t decide on a prize. Any ideas? In addition, we agreed on social media policies to provide guidance for staff and boundaries for management. A very interesting point that someone brought up at the meeting is that these really are communications guidelines, that there shouldn’t be an artificial distinction between policies related to social media versus traditional media. Here are their policies. I think they’ve done a great job of keeping them simple, manageable and direct: The AVI CHAI Foundation Social Media Policy AVI CHAI encourages staff and Trustees to be champions on behalf of the Foundation, LRP, day schools and overnight summer camps. The rapidly growing phenomenon of blogging, social networks and other forms of online electronic publishing are emerging as unprecedented opportunities for outreach, information-sharing and advocacy. AVI CHAI encourages (but does not require) staff and Trustees to use the Internet to blog and talk about our work and our grant making and therefore wants staff and Trustees to understand the responsibilities in discussing AVI CHAI in the public square known as the World Wide Web. Guidelines for AVI CHAI Social Media Users 1. Be Smart. A blog or community post is visible to the entire world. Remember that what you write will be public for a long time – be respectful to the Foundation, colleagues, grantees, and partners, and protect your privacy. 2. Write What You Know. You have a unique perspective on our organization based on your talents, skills and current responsibilities. Share your knowledge, your passions and your personality in your posts by writing about what you know. If you’re interesting and authentic, you’ll attract readers who understand your specialty and interests. Don’t spread gossip, hearsay or assumptions. 3. Identify Yourself. Authenticity and transparency are driving factors of the blogosphere. List your name and when relevant, role at AVI CHAI, when you blog about AVI CHAI-related topics. 4. Include Links. Find out who else is blogging about the same topic and cite them with a link or make a post on their blog. Links are what determine a blog’s popularity rating on blog search engines like Technorati. It’s also a way of connecting to the bigger conversation and reaching out to new audiences. Be sure to also link to avichai.org. 5. Include a Disclaimer. If you blog or post to an online forum in an unofficial capacity, make it clear that you are speaking for yourself and not on behalf of AVI CHAI. If your post has to do with your work or subjects associated with AVI CHAI, use a disclaimer such as this: “The postings on this site are my own and don’t represent AVI CHAI’s positions, strategies or opinions.” This is a good practice but does not exempt you from being held accountable for what you write. 6. Be Respectful. It’s okay to disagree with others but cutting down or insulting readers, employees, bosses or partners and vendors is not. Respect your audience and don’t use obscenities, personal insults, ethnic slurs or other disparaging language to express yourself. 7. Work Matters. Ensure that your blogging does not interfere with your other work commitments. 8. Respect Privacy of Others. Don’t publish or cite personal or confidential details and photographs about AVI CHAI grantees, employees, Trustees, partners or vendors without their permission. 9. Don’t Tell Secrets. The nature of your job may provide you with access to confidential information regarding AVI CHAI, AVI CHAI grantees, partners, or fellow employees. Respect and maintain the confidentiality that has been entrusted to you. Don’t divulge or discuss proprietary information, internal documents, personal details about other people or other confidential material 10. Be Responsible. Blogs, wikis, photo-sharing and other forms of online dialogue (unless posted by authorized AVI CHAI personnel) are individual interactions, not corporate communications. AVI CHAI staff and Trustees are personally responsible for their posts.
Many thanks to the Jewish Family Service of Bergen and Hudson Counties for sharing their social media policy. The policy adresses: guiding principles; responsibilities of staff, volunteers, and trustees as ambassadors for the organization; confidentiality, copyright, and legal issues; and, issues related to personal and professional boundaries.
Brit Lashon HaTov originally was written by Congregation B’nai Jeshurun (New York City) under the guidance of Rabbi Felicia Sol. Their goal, and ours, is to foster the kind of constructive communication that will truly enable our shul to be a Kehillah Kedoshah: a sacred community. Specifically, this covenant addresses an aspiration that we (like our brothers and sisters at B’nai Jeshurun – "thoughtful, creative, committed, sometimes boisterous, and often opinionated") speak, write, meet, email, and phone each other in ways that demonstrate tolerance and respect.
"Everyone is created in G!d's Image." (Genesis 1:27)
* Invite and encourage everyone's participation.
* Assume the best intentions on the part of your listener.
* Do not engage in lashon hara – gossip, rumor mongering, slander.
"Everyone has a place in the Torah." (Sefat Emet on Parashat Bamidar)
* Seek to understand others' opinions before yours is understood.
* Work to gain insights from views other than your own.
"Disagree for the sake of Heaven." (Pirke Avot 5:19)
* Seek to clarify misunderstandings productively.
* Ask a factual question to determine if your assumptions are correct before deciding there is a problem.
* Treat your conversational partner as you would want to be treated.
"There is a time to keep silent and a time to speak." (Ecclesiastes 3:7)
* Greet questions with a moment of silence to give everyone ample time to formulate a thoughtful response.
* Communicate your own thoughts and speak for yourself, not for other people.
* Understand the roles and responsibilities that congregants, staff and rabbis have in a particular matter so there is real clarity about who is responsible for making a decision.
* Seek to understand when it is time to keep silent.
"Words are powerful" (Proverbs 18:21)
* Appreciate the spirit and passion of our community as it is reflected in diverse opinions.
* Strive towards listening and hearing each other as members of a holy community–
- In public meetings;
- In community forms;
- In havurot;
- In classes;
- In email;
- On the phone;
- At Temple; and
- V'al kol Yisrael, v'al kol yoshvei teyvel.
Although we strive to keep this covenant, sometimes we fall short. We try to recognize those times and apologize to those we have harmed. We try again. We are human.