In The Social Network (2010), which is arguably my favorite movie of all time, Mark Zuckerberg tells his best friend about his initial idea for what would eventually become Facebook: “I’m talking about taking the entire social experience of college and putting it online.” Considering that the largest age group actively using Facebook is people who are 35–54 years old (56 million members, according to an Investor Place article), this quote seems out of place. Are middle-aged parents trying to relive their college days through Facebook? Why is a social networking designed to mimic the college experience attracting parents, pushing their kids to delete their accounts and post elsewhere?
Despite this, Facebook is perhaps the most dynamic social networking site available. You can create pages, events, and posts, all which can be instantly shared with everyone you’re friends with, certain groups of people, or one specific friend.
Because Facebook has an older average demographic than, say, Twitter or Instagram, it lends itself to reaching out to older generations. Your church can utilize Facebook to promote events, interact with members, and market itself, but there are a few best practices and tips you should know before you start liking stuff:
Create a page, not a group
If you’re new to Facebook (at least as a church), you’re probably wondering the difference between a page and a group. People can “like” pages, but they have to be added to groups. Your church should have a Facebook page, not a group. Groups are useful for private groups of people—like a small group Bible study—but not a public page where you plan on promoting events.
Encourage members to like your page
Your Facebook can become a hub of information and updates, but no one will know if they don’t like your page! Stress that you’ll update Facebook first when events are changed or information is updated. After an event, tell members to make sure they like your page so they can see pictures as soon as they’re posted. However, make sure you have the approval of parents to post pictures of their children online. Have them sign a waiver that you can post their photos on your Facebook page.
Pay for promotion
Facebook has a feature that allows you to pay to promote your page or a certain post. I help organize a yearly 5K for a local charity, and we’ll often pay a small amount to promote a post detailing registration to get the word out to thousands of people!
Facebook ads are based on things that you’ve liked and where you live, so ads about video games aren’t going to appear on my newsfeed, but ads about shopping will. This way, your posts are appearing to people in your area who will appreciate them and not completely ignore them (hopefully).
This step is crucial. To gain a large, active following on your page, you have to post frequently and regularly. Post 2–3 times a day, and give your post some personality! Your posts should be informative but not dry.
Also, post different content. It’s okay to post the same link twice (to your most recent blog post, for example), but make the caption or text accompanying the link different each time. You can post a Bible verse, comic strip, or image to break up your announcement or event posts.
It’s always important to remember that Facebook shouldn’t be your main form of outreach. Instead, Facebook should simply be a tool for ministry, not your sole form of outreach.
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