Facebook, Twitter and blogging – bring them on!

Participants from across the MUA enjoyed an excellent course on Using Social Media, held at Unitarian New Meeting Birmingham on 8th February. Love it or hate it, there is little doubt that the medium of social media is both here to stay and influential. This course was therefore a very useful introduction for some, and an important update for others, on the benefits that Facebook, Twitter and Blogging can have for their Unitarian community.

Yvonne Aburrow led the morning session, outlining the many characteristics of Facebook. She showed how through carefully thought through approaches it was possible to reach out to a broader community, engage with individuals and groups on matters of interest, post Thoughts For The Day and create and advertise events. After lunch, Alison Patrick described how Twitter had many applications that could benefit Unitarian groups. Whilst any message (or `tweet`) was limited to 140 characters, she demonstrated clearly how it was possible to advertise services and events, engage in constructive dialogue on Unitarian topics, and have “immediacy” in responding to contacts that may come our way. Sue Woolley concluded the day by describing the art of blogging, or using the web for discussion or information-giving. She explained the majority of blogs are interactive, allowing visitors to leave comments on what they’ve read, and generally vary in content from those containing personal opinions right through to those that are detailed and well-researched.

All three course leaders emphasised the need when using social media to act responsibly and as a representative of their Unitarian community. As a general rule, never state anything in this context that you wouldn’t share with everyone in a public square! It is also important to link up any use of media such as this with other aspects of congregational presence, such as web site and even printed news matter. These all represent the Public Face of Unitarianism in one way or another, and as such provide valuable opportunities to communicate to the wider world.

It was also emphasised that each Unitarian congregation or group using social media, should not expect to rely upon just one individual within their midst to manage this flow of information. This responsibility must be effectively managed and therefore shared, if benefits were to be maximised.

This was a very enjoyable course, and participants will doubtless report back in full to their congregations. Participants were extremely grateful to Sue Woolley for organising the event. Thanks should also be extended to Sue, Yvonne and Alison for leading each session so effectively, to Birmingham New Meeting for hosting the event, and of course to the 19 participants themselves for making the time to attend this event on behalf of their various congregations.

Ash James

Should you be interested in introductory advice from the web on these three areas, then please check out the contact details shown below.