Facebook Round-Up (March 2013)
It has been 3 months since our last round-up, so Jonathan Bennett takes a look at what's been happening with FIEC churches over on Facebook.
We’re currently connected to 67 FIEC churches via their Facebook Pages. It’s a good way for us to see what’s going on across our Fellowship, and every so often we do a round-up of encouraging and interesting stories. However (and I feel a bit like a disappointed school teacher saying this) this time around I saw a lot of things that made me think, “you could do better”.
Facebook is useful for churches for a few different reasons: It allows non-Christians to look “over the shoulder” of church members to see what church is about; it provides you with a free web presence, which usually appears high in search rankings (Google, Bing, etc.); it gives you an easily-updated online hub for your church. You can read more in our Church’s Guide to Facebook.
So today I thought I’d share a few stories from our churches and give a few tips about best practice as we go along.
Share photos (of people!)
Aigburth Community Church is a growing church. How do I know? Take a look at this photo showing their church family from 2008 to today. And because people have been tagged in it on Facebook, it’s likely that church members’ friends know it too.
Kenton Evangelical Church have recently updated their cover photo (the big image at the top of the page) with a nice, smiley picture of their church. They’ve also been sharing photos from their Ladies’ Evening (over 80 women hearing about God’s work in South Africa), a family fun day and a golden wedding anniversary of some church members. Looking in from the outside, Kenton Evangelical are obviously a church who are active and who share life together.
The Facebook posts that get ‘Liked’, shared, tagged and commented on the most are photos. That means they’re also the posts that get seen the most. My church recently shared a group shot of the church and it had nine times as many interactions of the next popular post! So think carefully about how you can use photos to give a window into the life of your church.
With special events coming up for Easter, don’t just use Facebook to advertise; use it to report back with a few photos as well.
By the looks of it from Facebook, lots of churches are making good use of Easter and the surrounding school holidays for special events. But for some churches, the previous thing they shared was… an advert or two for Christmas activities.
Some non-Christians imagine church as only being of use for certain occasions; Christmas, Easter, weddings, funerals. If your Facebook Page only shows Christmas and Easter events then you’ll probably reinforce that idea. So think carefully about what else you can share, and how you can show that your church is alive and active all year round. For example…
- …Pontrhydyrun Baptist Church and Plains Evangelical Church, who both recently had baptisms (Plains Evangelical even shared some videos!).
- …Westgate Chapel, who shared some photos from their ‘Messy Church’ event.
- …Bush Hill Park Community Church, whose new community centre called ‘The Living Room’ was featured on their local newspaper’s website (read the story here).
That’s not to discourage the churches who have shared about their Easter activities! Let’s remember to pray for the many churches who are hosting special events this coming weekend, that the risen Saviour might be made known.
A few final tips
Before I sign-off, here are a few more things to think about…
Claim your name - I noticed that lots of churches haven’t claimed a username for their Facebook page. A username means that your Facebook Page address can be transformed from…
…which is much easier to put on church publicity – and it looks more professional too. You can actually just write facebook.com/YourChurchName or fb.com/YourChurchName and it’ll forward straight to your Facebook Page. Find out how to do this here.
Pin & feature posts - If you want a post to stay at the top of your Page for a while then you can “pin it” by hovering your mouse over the post, clicking on pencil in the top right, and then selecting ‘Pin to Top’. You can also make a post stretch across the width of the Page, thereby drawing more attention to it, by hovering over it and clicking the little star.
Get someone else to do it - If you’re a pastor and you’re the main admin of your church’s Facebook Page, then it may be time to pass on the responsibility to someone who has the time and passion to look after it. It’s unlikely that Facebook will ever be at the top of a pastor’s to-do list, and so it’s often better to delegate. Find someone you trust; explain how Facebook fits into your communications strategy; give them a bit of training; let them get on with it and review after a few weeks/months.
Until next time…
And if you haven’t already seen it, you might like to have a look at our Church’s Guide to Facebook.