You’ve heard the buzz about Facebook for years now. It’s the thing you have to do! Wait, don’t do it — it’s destroying us all!
If you don’t have a personal Facebook page, you probably have some valid reasons for avoiding this prevalent social media platform. But whether you are personally interested in Facebook or not, you can’t deny its importance in our culture.
What other presence has undeniable importance in our culture? The church! We are the bearers of the most important message in the world — the live-saving gospel of Jesus Christ, which can change hearts, bring hope and transform the world. Our positive presence on Facebook can show our friends and neighbors what the Kingdom of God is really like, out in our communities and within the devices we grasp.
This means a church Facebook page is not only a helpful tool, but a necessary one. Think of your Facebook page as the front door to your church. A cheerful, welcoming page with relevant information will encourage visitors to take that first step of coming through the door. A stagnant page with outdated information, or no Facebook page at all, may give the impression that visitors are not considered or that the church has opted out of “keeping up with the times” altogether.
It’s kind of like shopping for a new home. If the house appears to be well-maintained and the neighbors look friendly, you’ll give it a fair chance. If the house seems dated and you can’t imagine starting your new life in that neighborhood, you’ll probably look elsewhere.
In Kansas and Nebraska alone, around 3.3 million people use Facebook, according to Facebook business center. Most of those 3.3 million people live fairly close to a United Methodist church. They are your neighbors, community members and the people in the town down the road. They are young singles and families, baby boomers and senior adults. They are busy, they are using technology and they are looking for something meaningful.
Let’s give them the church.
Starting with Facebook.
So, what do you need to get started? Here are a few best practices:
Create a business page for your church. (Log in to Facebook as yourself, then visit Facebook Business to get started.) DO NOT create a Facebook profile that is meant for an individual person. As a business page, visitors can “like” your page without requesting to be your friend and you can provide more helpful content for your members and visitors. You can create ads and “boost” posts that expand the number of people you can reach. Personal profiles are limited in these options, and also require information that is not relevant to a church listing. (Did your church graduate from high school in 1989? Probably not.)
Establish a team of Facebook administrators. Your social media team should consist of at least three unrelated people. One of these can be your pastor, but the pastor should not be the only person with access. No one else on the team should be a member of the pastor’s immediate family. Members of the church must be able to maintain control of the Facebook page when a pastor or other social media team member moves on. Each person can be added as an administrator or editor on your page’s “Settings” tab. You do not have to create one email address and password for everyone to use — each administrator or editor can log in with their own Facebook profiles to access the church page.
Provide relevant information and keep it up-to-date. Have your office hours or worship times changed? Put that on Facebook.
Use a professional-looking profile picture using the proper dimensions (visit Facebook help for details.) This can be your logo or the cross and flame with your church name. You will also need an engaging cover photo or video. If you need help with these images, the conference communications team would be happy to assist you.
Be wary of sharing posts from other pages or people you don’t know. What seems harmless, or even inspirational, is often backed by a scammer. At worst, you could make yourself and your followers vulnerable. At best, you could clutter your feed and distract from your message.
Post regularly, inviting others to join in the life of your church. If you were a potential visitor, would this post entice you to come? Would you have enough information to drop by for worship or an event? Does this post come across as welcoming or exciting? If yes, then keep up the good work! (Watch for more about engaging content, coming soon!)
Your Great Plains communications team is here to help your church tell its story and invite others to become a part of it. For more ideas on how to improve your church’s social media presence, or to ask a social media question, contact Jayna McFarland.