Facebook was not originally created to be a company. It was built to accomplish a social mission—to make the world more open and connected. —Mark Zuckerberg
Hundreds of social media platforms are available, and deciding which ones to use can be a bit overwhelming. If you’re looking to get your church involved or more involved on social media, a Facebook page is a good place to start. Many churches that don’t have websites use Facebook as a means of communicating with members and the local community, while other churches use Facebook as part of a large online presence.
- Determine your goals for Facebook and who you’re trying to reach. Do you want a space where current church members can connect during the week? Are you trying to reach nonmembers in the community to encourage them to attend? Whatever you do on social media, make sure your posts align with your goals.
- Decide who the page administrator will be. Who understands Facebook? Who has the time to post? Whose communication skills will make a positive impression for your congregation? You can find training for a staff member or volunteer who is willing to be the key point person for this new ministry.
- Complete the “About” section. Include your church’s address, phone number, service time(s), a general “what we believe” section, and a link to your church’s website.
- Post good content. Help people get to know your church through general information, photographs of events and services, videos of messages, life-changing stories, and involvement opportunities such as Bible studies or community service. Engage with your audience by asking questions to solicit feedback.
- Tag people in photos. Tagged photos will show up on the individual’s profile page and will extend the reach of your church page.
- Keep posts short. A good rule of thumb is to limit posts to two or three sentences.
- Update your church’s status regularly and strategically. A good starting point is three to five times a week. For a better idea on when and how to post, click on the “insights” tab on the page for detailed information on when your fans are on Facebook.
- Avoid using jargon, acronyms, or language that the general public might find hard to understand. Ministries may have creative names, but be sure people know what they mean. “All are welcome for Sarah’s Sisters” reads very differently than “All are welcome for Sarah’s Sisters Bible study.”
- Use the timing tool on Facebook to schedule posts in advance to save time and for days you won’t be available, but stay aware of events in the larger world. If a major national news event has just occurred, posting about something unrelated can be seen as a blunder.
- Be responsive. Set up notifications so that you’ll be informed when someone posts to your page. Try to respond as soon as possible, and always within 24 hours. Write some guidelines about how to respond to negative comments on Facebook, and share them with church staff and volunteers.
- Don’t refer to yourself on a page you control. Even if you administer the page, it is your worshiping community’s social media account. Use “we,” not “I,” to refer to the congregation.
Other Platforms to Consider:
- Twitter allows users to read and send “tweets” of 280 characters or less. Churches can use Twitter to provide members with breaking info, alerts, news, and event updates.
- YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing website. It’s a good place to post sermons or to share inspirational messages for the week. Videos from YouTube can also be embedded into your church website.
- Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing app that is almost exclusively accessed from mobile devices. Instagram can be a great way for churches to share photos and 15-second videos of events, services, work in the community, and mission trips.
- Pinterest is a place to share and store photos (and videos) by “pinning” them to boards, which are theme-based collections. A church could use Pinterest to create boards with photos and videos on inspiration, mission, living simply, Scripture, and other themes.