Friday 1 May 2009

Social Media, Church and Bishopping

Social Media Day in Oxford, organised by Sarah Meyrick and Phil Hind, from our communications team. The aim was to gather people working for the Church with an interest in communications, to scope the scene and its possiblities. I chaired it and did a short bit on blogs and bishopping. We have presentations from Dave Adams on the broader context and Tim Davies about the ways young people are using social media.

We began with the Blessed Mitch Benn on the Now Show, explaining all you need to know about social media in under a minute:

One or two soundbites stood out for me from a varied and engaging day sharing experience and possibilities — Tim pointed out the way in which social media amplify conversations going on anyway, engaging young people who are often fluent, but not literate, about the use of these media. He challenged us to try and think through the transition of all communications people from providers of the message to enablers of the message within an enriched network we could not control.

And mainly because someone asked for it, I’m also happy to stick up here the list I gave of ten ways in which blogging has enriched my own work:
  1. This job involves being in a network with many people out there and one of you. May of them want to know you. They may not read what you wrote but the fact that you bothered to try is undeniable

  2. Be yourself! Most of your colleagues only see you on formal occasions, or when they’re in trouble. This makes them think you’re a workaholic or policeman. You’re not, but how would they know? What you reveal in your blog adds dimensions to the way you are seen, for good or ill, usually for good unless you are a complete idiot.

  3. Take the initiative! People cometimes seek your views for their own reasons, time and context, often to make up stories — like the old round robin about how many bishops believe in God. The reality is they all do. The fantasy is they all don’t. You get caught in silly crossfire. Gazump this process by publishing your own views for your own reasons, in your own time and context, to tell your story. If anyone really wants to know what you believe all the information is in the public domain. If they’re just trolling or manipulating you, you don’t have to play.

  4. Local is beautiful! an intelligent acknowledgment of the genuine good you noticed in a school or parish, in your own words, is worth a hundred general thank-you emails.

  5. Can have a copy of your sermon? It seems mean to say no; but it’s not the same in print. Recorded on the internet is even worse. Very very few of our sermons translate into podcasts for length, style, content or production. They just sound naff. Blog content instead. Positively, work you do in one context be more available — input from one context can be picked up off Google search by other people who weren’t there for original...

  6. Learn how to write in quick English! It’s a useful skill, even for Bishops...

  7. Learn the joy of obliqueness! There are delicate matters out there like bullying, which you will only say anything about in a crisis if ever, left to your own devices. If you care about them, say so before there’s a crisis going on. Gentle positive reflection that tackles the subject is likely to work better. nything hot can be left on one side for six months, then picked up for comment in a less pointed more constructive way
  8. We are all expected to hold ourselves positively accountable to the people we serve. This is a way to help do that.

  9. Connect with the world! Discuss things that matter, explain what you mean, interact with overseas colleagues, convey your attitude to things as well as your policy about it, show that you aren’t a sock puppet... Tie up ideas and challenges in real time, and develop discussions. Think, rethink, interact — there are some extraordinary people out there you’d never meet otherwise. Sitting on the Peacock Throne (if you have one) handing down stone tablets to people, none of whom are listening anyway, is not a winner.

  10. If you don’t nab your space someone else will! Google yourself and weep... or not, as the case may be.


LLM Calling said...

I love the social media starfish. and that list of reasons to blog, priceless! thanks

Steve Hayes said...

Good stuff. I might nick some of it for my blog in a day or three. But this blue fish thingy seems to be everywhere.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Many Thanks, both. It could be the Starfish motif goes with "The Spider and the Starfish" — the book about organisations a lot of us have been quoting around the place. Not sure the number of legs is right — but they're probably variable on the orignal beasties?

June Butler said...

Excellent, Bishop Alan. I'd take these for my own, except that I'm not a bishop, and I don't give sermons - except to my long-suffering nearest and dearest.

You seem to be one of the more open of the bishop bloggers, and you have a nice sense of humor, which I believe is nearly always a good thing.

Fr Tobias Haller posts podcasts of his sermons, along with the texts, and they work quite well. But then, he was a thespian in another life.

Bishop Alan Wilson said...

Thanks, Grandmere, for kind words. I have come acros Tobias’ blog and will go check out his sermons, because eople do ask me about how to do it well.

Someone suggested at our Oxford day that perhaps what all online communication does is project an amplified version of the person, for good or ill, like a Kodachrome? Interesting thought.

Fran said...

I sent you a message earlier and now realize I should have come to your blog first... who knew that you posted about the very topic on which I was seeking your wisdom. In a about a week I will be giving a presentation on the topic of faith and blogging at a diocesan event.

Thank you for this - it is fantastic.

Steve Tilley said...

Thanks for the day. Good stuff indeed.

Tithe Barn said...

I'm also very interested in social media and have written a blog to encourage Churches to engage with it:

Unknown said...

Wonderful stuffs. social media for churches is really great and gives a big help to one another to easily communicate with the word of God.

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