Temple Sinai Las Vegas: Making the Most of the Facebook Page Cover Image

A guest post from Ronen Rahaman of Temple Sinai, Las Vegas

It happened quite by accident.  One day, as I was adjusting my eyes to the new timeline layout, thinking of how Facebook had changed almost everything, I suddenly realized that I have a large amount of real estate at the top of my page that I need to fill.  We had no cover photo and the page looks so sad without one that I knew something needed to go there.  So what did I do?  Put a picture (actually a rendering) of our campus up and called it a day.

Initially it seem as if the problem was solved, however as I continued to return to the page to check “Likes”, I quickly became bored and sad to see the same cover photo day in and day out.  The thought of seeing the same photo at the top of our page for the rest of Facebook’s existence (which I assume is eternity) seemed unbearable to me and if I felt that way, what were others thinking?

That is when divine inspiration stepped in and it occurred to me that I don’t need to keep the same cover photo and that if I looked at it as a blank canvas where I could change the photo to coincide with something that was current and Jewy, I would be giving users a reason to come back to see, what may be considered, and new page.

This all occurred just prior to Passover so I put up a picture of some Matzah, four cups of wine, and a Haggadah.  It was a simple and clean photo, but very timely none the less.  Feeling very self-satisfied with my effort I enjoyed Passover and looked forward to checking the page daily.

So now Passover has passed over.  I check our page and in an instant the thought flashes. Ok, now what?  I had better come up with something quick.  Knowing that Yom HaShoah was coming and that Temple Sinai was hosting the memorial that year, I changed the photo to one that I find tells a powerful story. That’s when the second moment of divine inspiration occurred:  this blank canvas can tell a story.

Since then I’ve viewed that space and precious real estate on the page.  It’s where I can make a statement, inspire thought, inform, or tell a story.  How powerful is that?  Since then, it’s been my personal challenge to find photos that keep people engaged and the page relevant.

Our guidelines for the photo are simple.  They have to be the right size for Facebook, Jewish related, and be about something that is bigger than just Temple Sinai of Las Vegas.  Holidays, major events in Jewish history, and other Jewish milestones are usually what we look for.

Future efforts will include a submission contest to further engage the congregation to submit photos that they would like to share.

If you are interested in seeing some of our past photos, check our our Facebook Page or our Pintrest board.

Temple Sinai in Las Vegas, Nevada received a coaching and consulting grant through the URJ Social Media Boot Camp.  

Push Yourself from Broadcast to Social

I coach many organizations on the social media, helping them to mature their practice and hopefully use these valuable tools to help achieve articulated goals.  What I notice — and notice a lot — is that moving from a broadcast mindset to a social one is hard.  Really hard.  I might spend a full hour brainstorming social content with a team from a congregation, and then notice their next 5 posts on Facebook are still about programs and posting links to articles they think folks should be reading.

Instead of talking with members of their community, they’re talking at them: read this, check out that.

While these types of posts are OK here and there, we need to figure out a different mode which will shift us from AT to WITH. In some cases it’s a very minor adjustment — phrasing your post as a question rather than a statement, for example.  But this ongoing trend points to a deeper cultural issue:  That organizaitons (and the institutional voice) are the center of a hub and spokes model. That the members of a "community" are puppy dogs sitting at the feet of institutions, begging for more information, more programs. 

In fact, in most cases the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

Leaders with whom I work are thoughtful, delightful, smart people.  I’m not assigning blame here, but I am going to be the aggressive coach that will holler and holler to push you beyond your comfort zone, out of your status quo routine, and into a new place where you will strengthen your social muscles and start to see and feel and experience and contribute to the world in a new way.

Jewish Values and Social Media – Meta Converastion!

This is cross-posted from Miriam Brosseau’s "Clips and Phrases" Tumbler.

Here’s the current state of a conversation about social media and Jewish values happening on my Facebook profile. What would you add?

Ok, everybody – favorite Jewish values and/or texts that could potentially relate to social media. And…go!

(Whaddya think, Anita Salzman Silvert, David Paskin, Rabbi Jason Miller, Elizabeth Wood, Carrie Bornstein, Arnie Samlan? Others?)

Elizabeth Wood Al Tifrosh min hatzibur – Do not separate yourself from the community (i.e. figure out always how to keep yourself connected!)

Irene Lehrer Sandalow Al Tifrosh Min Hatsibur. Social Media makes sure stay you connected to your community.

Miriam Brosseau Whoah, Elizabeth and Irene, you are totally on the same wavelength… and it’s a great call, thanks!

Isaac Shalev Emor me’at ve’aseh harbeh – say little and do lots – should be Twitter’s mission statement

Sara Shapiro-Plevan I’d say that “im ein ani li, mi li” and the rest of that mishna speaks beautifully to the fact that we are nodes in a larger network and not just in relationship with ourselves. Also, Pirke Avot ch. 6 talks about drawing close to colleagues and students, not separating one’s self from community, knowing and contributing to the knowledge of others, and sharpening others’ knowledge as well.

Carrie Bornstein Sara – you JUST beat me to it!

Carrie Bornstein If I am not for myself, who will be for me? (Have a voice in the online world – make your presence known.) If I am only for myself, what am I? (Engage your community – advocate on behalf of others) If not now, when? (Just do it – act in the moment.)

Anita Salzman Silvert I would add the whole Lashon Ha-rah issue. Just using some of the text in a little presentation on the jewish values found in “The Music Man” …think pick a little talk a little…!

Carrie Bornstein Eizeh hu chacham? HaLomed miKol Adam. Who is wise? The one who learns from all others. 

Naomi Malka Da Lifnei Mi Ata Omed—be mindful of your values wherever you go and whatever you say in cyberspace.

Yehudit Batya Shrager The essence of tsniut is being independent of the good opinion of other people. (For the DL on tsniut read “Outside/Inside” by Gila Manolson.) In other words, know what to share and what to keep to yourself and do not define yourself based on how many “friends/followers” you have or how many people “like,” your status updates.

Phil Liff-Grieff malbin panav- it is important to remember that one’s words have serious ripples (sort of a riff on the lashon ha-ra thread….)

Arnie Samlan What about the whole concept of a minyan? That there is a tipping point at which enough human-social energy gathers.

Lisa Narodick Colton Wow, this is great. I’ll add tzimtzum — needing to contract oneself to make room for others to create. good for community guidelines — don’t be a conversation hog.

Larry Brown Excellent topic, Miriam! I believe Pirkei Avot says to find a Rabbi/Teacher and sit at his feet and study. The whole concept of the Oral Torah is that one cannot truly understand Torah simply by reading text, one must learn from others. That is why our ancestors were so reluctant to write it down. Interactive social media can be seen as another way of learning from others.

Paul Wieder Pirsumei Nisah— from Chanukah. Want everyone to know about a miracle? Put it in the window!
“Who is wise? The one who learns from all”- Pirkei Avot
Arba Kanfot— the idea that, while Jews are spread to the “four corners” of the world, we are united.
“A father who does not teach his son a trade teaches him to steal.”— We are required to teach as well as learn, to pass on our knowledge.

Carrie Bornstein In case you haven’t seen it, this thread keeps reminding me of this: http://www.cjnews.com/index.php?q=node%2F90054

Stanley Mieses Kol Yisroel and Derech Eretz. There is no them….only us.

Geoffrey Mitelman I’d add that in our ever-more-interconnected world, g’milut chasadim and tikkun olam are becoming more and more synonymous.

P.O.S.T. Planning Worksheet

Inspired by the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Darim has developed the POST Planning Worksheet.  POST stands for PEOPLE, OBJECTIVES, STRATEGY and TECHNOLOGY.  While many jump into social media thinking "Oh, Twitter is the latest hot thing, we should be doing THAT", to use the tool successfully to meet your goals takes a bit more thought.   Creating a plan can be an indepth and complex process, or can be on the back of a napkin.  Either way, asking the right questions in the right order is incredibly helpful. 

You can view the worksheet here, and feel free to click through to download this worksheet and use it as a tool in your planning process.  Gather a couple other people to think through each step with you.  And let us know what you learn by going through the POST process.

P.O.S.T. Planning Worksheet

Inspired by the book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff, Darim has developed the POST Planning Worksheet.  POST stands for PEOPLE, OBJECTIVES, STRATEGY and TECHNOLOGY.  While many jump into social media thinking "Oh, Twitter is the latest hot thing, we should be doing THAT", to use the tool successfully to meet your goals takes a bit more thought.   Creating a plan can be an indepth and complex process, or can be on the back of a napkin.  Either way, asking the right questions in the right order is incredibly helpful. 

You can view the worksheet here, and feel free to click through to download this worksheet and use it as a tool in your planning process.  Gather a couple other people to think through each step with you.  And let us know what you learn by going through the POST process.

Making Facebook Groups Rock

Facebook groups have changed a lot in the past year or so, and they’re more powerful than ever. Here are some helpful hints to make your Facebook group a truly vibrant platform: Maximizing group features for networking and engagement: Tagging individuals in posts. This is an excellent means of publicly introducing two (or more) folks within your group. Include bragging rights – what makes these members unique? Give them a question to explore together, and encourage the dialogue. This means you have to know your group – who they are, what they’re up to, what they need, etc. Think:

  • How can I encourage others to use the group in the same way, not just as a means for marketing/broadcasting information?
  • How do I go from network weaver to empowering others to weave one another?

The power of pictures. Facebook is a “picture economy” (whereas Twitter is a “link economy”); pics are the most engaged content, the most in-demand. Pictures are great conversation starters. Tagging folks in pictures and asking them to tag themselves also increases engagement, puts a face to a name, and humanizes the process by bridging online and on-land worlds. Questions and polling. Thoughtful, simple, directed questions can be a powerful engagement mechanism. Think about allowing others to add their own options to the poll – when is it appropriate, and when is it unnecessary or confusing. Expect to get answers both in the poll itself and in the comments, and run with both! Group chat. Facebook groups mostly function asynchronously, but a synchronous activity now and again can really rally the troops. (Note: this feature does not function with groups of 250 members or more.) Consider the following:

  • What are the deeper conversations your group seems inclined to have?
  • Can you assign someone to host that conversation and empower them to lead the charge?

Docs. Docs are like super-simple wikis, and probably the most truly collaborative aspect of a Facebook group. Because they are collaboratively editable, they are great for anything that requires a teasing out a group voice – agendas, statements or announcements, etc.

  • Docs live in a designated place within your group and are therefore not as subject to the news feed, which is more timely. Docs are great for posting information that you plan to come back to again and again.
  • Conversations will naturally spring up in the comments section of your document. It’s important to manage the flow between what is being written in the doc and what’s happening in the comments.

Events. Creating a group event for actual in-person meetings makes a lot of sense, but there are other ways the events feature can be used – general publicity, announcements, calls to action, booking a time for a group chat, etc.

  • Events need not be restricted to members of the group. Use them when you want to introduce a broader audience to your group’s good work.
  • Bear in mind – events can be great, but tend to get lost in the new Facebook layout. Timing is key. Be conscious of who you are reminding of the event and how often. Remember you can also post the event’s unique link to the group or your personal profile page.
  • Finally, events, like docs, also have a comment stream attached. Monitor accordingly.

Other big ideas: Have a goal for the group, or at least a project everyone can rally around. Give the group a sense of purpose. No one person “owns” a Facebook group. It belongs equally to all the members and should be treated as such. (Think about using the Docs to build a group statement of values – decide as a community how you will use the group and treat one another while active in it.) It’s easier to post than to reply. Engagement takes investment. Try setting aside a specific block of time every day or week to monitor and engage the group. Ask other members to do the same – spread the responsibility around and see what kind of ROE (return on engagement) you get. No medium exists in a vacuum. Think about the relationships between what happens in the group, on Facebook in general, over email, on the phone, in person, at events, etc. To be truly effective, the online experience should be tied – topically, in culture, in voice, in attitude – to the experience(s) of the group in other spaces. Groups don’t provide hard analytical data the way Pages do, so it’s up to you to gather both the qualitative and quantitative results. Consider asking:

  • Who’s posting most often? Who’s replying?
  • What topics are folks posting about? What topics are getting the most feedback and engagement?
  • What times of day are people posting?
  • Are members typically sharing links, photos, videos, event invitations?
  • What else can you learn about your members through their activity? What do they care about?

How have you made Facebook Groups work for you? What are your success stories?Making Facebook Groups Rock

We Will Do, And (Then) We Will Understand

Beth Kanter and Allison Fine accurately quip in “The Networked Nonprofit” that “social media is a contact sport.” You can’t expect to succeed without getting your hands dirty. As it happens, that’s just how the young nation of Israel agrees to learn the Torah – standing at Sinai, overwhelmed by the presence of the Divine, they collectively intone “na’aseh v’nishma” (Exodus 24:7 – what an appropriately enumerated verse). Loosely translated, “we will do, and (then) we will hear/understand.” Or, even more loosely translated, “first we will give this a try, then we’ll have some idea what it’s all about.” Israel agrees that the Torah is not an intellectual exercise, it is a lived experience.

“Na’aseh v’nishma” is your social media call to action. Knowing conceptually that it would be useful to connect with other people free of the constraints of time and space is an important step. But it can’t compare to, for instance, engaging your network on Facebook to help find the modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma.”* Sensing that social media increases the likelihood of serendipity doesn’t hold a candle to finding your next job through Twitter. Believing that social media is a key part of your communications strategy is very different from putting that belief into action. But what about those who need to feel the ROI (or rather, ROE – return on engagement) before diving in? What about the “lo n’aaseh” (“we will not do”) folks? On the one hand, there are those who will take on this challenge only because they “have to.” A friend recently told me about a colleague in her office who, upon taking the job, was cajoled into creating a Facebook account for the first time. The position involved working heavily with teens, and the person he was replacing realized as he was ending his tenure that he had missed out on opportunities for engagement by avoiding social media – “Facebook” was the advice he passed on to his successor. The new colleague is seeing early signs of success, meeting the teens in their own space, in their own language. Another friend had a similar experience:

alisonfbquote On the other hand, there are those for whom working in social media may never feel like the right fit. It may move too frenetically, require too many technical proficiencies, feel too exposing or time consuming, or any number of things. At the same time, social media is becoming part of the vernacular of our culture. Even the most reluctant of us may have to reexamine our practice in light of new ways of working. This is a familiar story to some:

Ultimately, you can’t really “get” social media without saying “na’aseh v’nishma” and engaging it as a contact sport. Facing reluctance is tough – there are always reasons not to do anything! So if you’re working on a co-worker, easing them into working with and through social technologies, it would be useful to have the following things in mind:

  1. Have a plan and a goal. Pick one thing, something that requires little effort, but can reap big rewards. Choose an internal project to work on in a Facebook group instead of over email, or tweet out questions during conference calls to solicit input from your organization’s followers and fans instead of (or as part of) a newsletter. Talk about both how things change, and what that means for your work.
  2. Blend online and on-land experiences. Reference Facebook in phone calls, share a great question from an email conversation on LinkedIn, bring digital spaces into your in-person conversations. These online spaces are not something “other,” they are powerful connective tools that can weave worlds – and people – together.
  3. Once you get started, remember that these things take time. Look for the bright spots, the places where your colleague is having success (or learning to redefine success). Focus on those, and encourage growth from there.

With social media, as with so many things, the understanding is in the doing. Admittedly, this is no easy task. Success in social media does take an investment of time, energy, thought…much like any meaningful human relationship. But this is how we learn. We do, and we do again. And then we understand. What was your “na’aseh v’nishma” moment? When did the “doing” make all the difference? (Share your voice in the comments and one lucky commenter, chosen at random, will receive a free copy of the book “Switch”.)

*The modern equivalent of “na’aseh v’nishma” could arguably be found in cognitive psychology: “effort justification.” It’s a fancy way of saying that when we work at something, when we dig in and invest ourselves, we understand it better and appreciate it more. Hat tip to Jay Schreiber and Rabbi Josh Yuter for helping me out on that one.

What Have We Learned This Week? This Year?

Guest post by Rabbi Arnie Samlan

When I joined Facebook, the first updates I began to post daily balanced my work and my play. They bounced between humorous (most often) and serious. Some reflected my rabbinic side; some addressed my musical (and scratch DJ) side; many dealt with pop music or pop culture. After a few months, I figured out that social media is not about listening to myself, it’s about bringing people together to share.

As I began to wind down my work week in preparation for Shabbat, my social media Friday began, a few months back, to take on a different form. I needed a wrap up of the social media week, just as Shabbat is the wrap up of my work week. Inspired by a radio “shock jock” who used to end each morning with a call-in segment called “What have we learned today?”, I decided to try asking this question on my Friday Facebook status. And so, every Friday morning, my status reads “It’s Friday! What have we learned this week?”

Several months in, our (no longer my) What Have We Learned This Week? community is thriving. Each week literally dozens of friends from around the world share their reflections. The recognition of learning that has taken place ranges from the odd (“I learned about the reproductive system of a hen”) to the seriously reflective (“we can spend time weighing our day, debating its worth, or we can recognize all of the good in our day and count it as worthy!”), to the personal (“To have a little more faith in myself than I might otherwise deem I deserve.”) to the proudly parental (“That my son is receiving a wonderful public school education from wonderfully committed teachers.”)

Beyond their individual reflections, the participants in this weekly ritual have begun to talk to each other, supporting (or challenging, such as the discussion on the difference between “fact” and “truth”) friends and sometimes strangers as we close our week together. My Friday Facebook wall has become a safe place for introspection, joking, kvetching, and praying. We judge our own learnings from social media and from the rest of our life and, without judging one another we get the opportunity to learn from each other’s weekly journeys. And in the end, it’s the sharing of one another’s journeys that is what life, as well as social media, is about.

Judaism has a practice in which a person conducts a cheshbon ha-nefesh, a self-audit of one’s soul. Some people engage in this practice daily, others less often. During the Rosh Hashana season, it’s particularly apropos, as we look back on the year past and at the year ahead. We assess ourselves honestly, and we set our course for the future. Why not invite my Facebook friends to share their own cheshbon hanefesh on my Facebook wall?

May we all continue to learn and share, and may be all be blessed wish a shana tova u’metukah, a happy and sweet New Year.

So… What you have you learned this year? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Arnie Samlan is a rabbi, Jewish educator, consultant, Jewish life coach, and aspiring DJ. Follow him on Twitter (@JewishConnectiv) and his blog The Notorious R.A.V.  Arnie is part of the professional team of the New Center for Collaboration and Leadership of The Jewish Education Project.

Tune Up Your Facebook Page For The High Holiday Season

facebook logo2The High Holidays are just around the corner. How will you use Facebook as an entry point for prospective members seeking to engage in the holiday season, and as a point of connection for current members? How can your Facebook Page be educational, and help your community prepare for Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur to make the most of these powerful experiences? Darim is pleased to offer a webinar and webinar/consulting combo to help you tune up your Facebook Page for maximum impact this season. REGISTER HERE or use the form below. WEBINAR: Friday, August 12th 1-2pm Eastern In this one-hour webinar, we’ll walk you through how to use Facebook to engage constituents during this important time of year when you have more of their attention, including marketing your page, when to post, what types of updates are most successful, how to develop a content strategy for the holiday season, how to be personal with Facebook, and more. The webinar recording will be available to all who register to replay or revisit at your convenience. CONSULTING PACKAGE: To provide more support and customized attention, we’re offering one-on-one coaching for up to 8 congregations who want to review their current Facebook activities and strategy in more detail with a Darim consultant. Along with this one hour coaching sessions, you’ll receive a self-evaluation form that will help us identify your organization’s Facebook goals and current challenges using Facebook and a written follow up including tips and suggestions to help propel you forward. Price includes the webinar for up to 5 representatives from your congregation. Webinar: Only $20 Webinar coaching and support: $150 (only 8 seats available!) REGISTER FOR EITHER PACKAGE HERE. Or see the form below. A great kick in the tush to get your Facebook house in order for the busy season! What are you waiting for? Sign up for the webinar, or the full package with coaching and customized support! Our Presenter: Debra Askanase is founder of the social media strategy firm communityorganizer20.com. Debra blogs there about social media, nonprofits and community organizing. A frequent conference speaker, Debra can be found chatting away as @askdebra. Debra has worked with nonprofits for 20 years as organizer, program director, executive director and fundraiser. Debra has worked with many Jewish organizations, synagogues, day schools and other organizations in the US, Canada and Israel.