I am running a workshop for Bradford Diocese on Monday entitled ‘Social Media for the Scared‘. Some of the delegates asked if I could come with some examples of the use of social media by churches. I realised that it’s quite hard to find churches on Facebook and so put out a request on Twitter for some examples. I have now started quite a list which I have decided to put on this page here. If you would like to add your church to the list, please email the link to me.
Facebook is actually quite a ‘religious’ place – the members reflect our wider society and hearteningly, the most popular Facebook page in the whole world is The Jesus Daily! Use of religious language in status updates (that’s when you’re sharing something on Facebook) results in more positive engagement.
Why should churches use Facebook?
- 1 in 3 people you meet have a Facebook profile! Scary isn’t it?!
- Over 50% of UK pensioners are on Facebook – it’s not an exclusively ‘young’ thing any more.
- If Facebook were a country it would be the 3rd largest in the World!
These statistics change the tone somewhat of Jesus’ great commission to go to the ‘ends of the earth’!
Put simply – Facebook is where people are, that’s where the church should be.
What could a church do with Facebook?
- The first thing to note about Facebook as with all social media is that it is a communication tool. Just as you will have a church magazine, newsletter and noticeboard – these things can be replicated on Facebook.
- Connect with people on the edges of the church
- Organise events and meetings
- Publicise the work of the church
- Engage in fundraising
- Have another presence online which boosts your church website’s SEO (Search Engine Optimisation – this is how high up you come in a Google search)
What you need to know before getting stuck in:
Facebook is made up of:
- Profiles (individual people’s profiles) – a profile is a personal account, you make friends with other people who have a profile
- Pages (for organisations, businesses, brands and celebrities) – all pages are public, when you are logged in to Facebook you can ‘like‘ a page to show you appreciate that organisation and would like to keep informed of what’s happening (clicking ‘like’ on a Facebook page is a bit like giving your email address to a company or filling in a ‘welcome card’ at the back of church to share your contact details!)
- and Groups (for focused discussion and engagement on a particular topic – these can be private or open). Groups are useful for small groups of people who are working on one particular thing – so a worship team in a church might use a Group in Facebook to communicate. Groups aren’t particularly flexible in Facebook so they’re better for more internal organisation than engaging with people outside of the church.
It is against Facebook’s terms and conditions for an organisation to create a profile (ie an account people can be ‘friends’ with). If you have created such an account for your church, firstly – well done for getting involved in Facebook! Secondly, don’t worry, you can convert your profile into a page and Facebook will convert all your friends into ‘fans’ (ie. people who ‘like’ your page). I have written a guide for converting your profile into a page here. It’s well worth converting a profile into a page anyway as you’ll have a lot more flexibility for engaging with people as a page than you would have as a profile.
You need a Facebook account (profile) to create a page but, and this is important, you can keep your Facebook page and your personal account completely separate from each other. No one will know who manages each Facebook page and you can have a number of people managing a Facebook page at once.
What to do before you create a Facebook page for your Church:
- Find out who in your church is already on Facebook – if you have some enthusiasts it would be a great idea to get them to create and manage your Facebook page – a current user will understand Facebook well and be able to get people on board
- Search Facebook to see if anyone has already created a page or group connected to your church (you can contact Facebook if you are concerned that something is incorrect)
- Nominate a person or team to manage the Facebook page. It’s no good creating a page and then leaving it. That would be like putting a landline into your church and then never picking up the phone when it rings! If you can’t find anyone to look after a Facebook page for your church, then don’t create one.
- Consider the focus of your page, you may decide that rather than creating a Facebook page for your church it would be better to create one for one of your ministries, perhaps your Alpha Course, Parenting clubs, Over 60s (why not?!), Mother’s Union etc. You can create pages that link to your main page so if yours is a large church you could have a page for your church with a page for an Alpha Course connected to it. I, for example, made this page for a Wedding Fayre we ran at our church.
Once you’ve created a Facebook page, remember the following:
- When you have over 25 fans (ie. 25 people have clicked the ‘like’ button on your page) claim your username (go to ‘edit page’ and ‘basic information’) – this is so you can have a personal URL for your page eg. facebook.com/yourchurch instead of the default series of numbers you get.
- Put links and the Facebook logo on your posters, noticeboard, church newsletter, magazine etc – tell everyone you’re there!
- Put a link from your website homepage direct to your Facebook page. If you have a wordpress site – add a Facebook ‘like’ box.
- Add your Facebook link to your email signature if you’re clergy or an administrator.
- Encourage visitors to go to your Facebook page – once they click ‘like’ on your page, they will get regular updates from your page whenever they login to Facebook!
- Don’t be too self-involved – don’t use your page just to broadcast – use it to have conversations and support people – aim to have 20% of the content you talking and 80% of the content other people talking. Feel free to share interesting news stories, blog posts and videos from elsewhere on the internet – it doesn’t all have to be about you!
- Plan your content for your page – create a calendar and put in what events are coming up for you and events in national life (such as the Olympics) and then have a think about what you could share – a photo, video, blog article, event. Plan it ahead so that in a quiet month you’ve still got something to say! You can use a tool such as Hootsuite to schedule posts ahead of time (if you’re on holiday for example).
- Always respond to a comment on your page. You can delete unsavoury comments, don’t worry!
- Make sure you’re aware of Facebook’s terms and conditions for pages – read a summary here.
So that’s a quick overview. Do get in touch if you need some help setting up a Facebook page or troubleshooting issues on a page. You can subscribe to my personal Facebook timeline here: http://facebook.com/vahva.
What tips would you have for churches using Facebook? Please add them in the comments below.