Making the Most of Facebook

After my recent post about churches who use social media in anti-social ways, my inbox was flooded with requests. "What does good social media look like?" "How can we be more social?"

For most congregations, Facebook is the primary social media. Most of our members are on Facebook and it is the logical way to reach them.

First of all, we've all figured out that Facebook pages (for organizations and companies) do not work the same way as Facebook profiles (for individuals). With a page, you cannot comment on the status updates of posted by other individuals, so how do we keep the church Facebook page from becoming a virtual bulletin board?

Here are my best practices.

1) Profile Picture: This will be the widest-reaching impact of your page. Every time a post of yours is shared, this image will show up. An image of an empty sanctuary or of the outside of your church building will not tell me anything about your congregation. A (well-designed) logo is slightly better. But the best is to show people involved in ministry. The church is the people -- show the people!

2) Cover Image: Facebook has given us a huge piece of real estate to take advantage of - use it! Use that space to give some insight to your ministry. A collage of images, info about the most important upcoming events, or an image that shows us what makes the congregation unique. (What size is your cover image? Here is a quick guide sizes for all sorts of social media image sizes.)

3) The Basics: How quickly can a visitor find your website and worship times? There are some natural places to put them in the "About" page. Forget about that. Get this most important information on the very front page, so that a visitor sees it without having to click through to a second page.

Ok. That's covers all the layout set-up issues. Now comes the fun part. Be social! You are a little bit limited on a page, but your hands are not tied.

1) Share information & images from other connected organizations. Whether is another local congregation, the local chamber of commerce, or a local business, use that share button. If someone else is posting information that is helpful community information, share it. Use the share button, so that your post shows where it comes from. The economy of social media is one of generosity -- the more you share your influence, the more influence you gain.

2) Share posts that are just plain fun. Yes, we are a church and we take seriously our task to proclaim the Gospel. Be we are also called to be joyful. Have some fun with it.

3) Pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. Don't tell us about your congregation, show us! Show us pictures of people involved in mission and ministry; show us joyful people, worshiping people, working people, singing people.

4) Questions. What is the best way to get people to respond to something? Ask them a question! It really is that simple sometimes.

Use Facebook as your page.
5) Comment. Yes, you can comment as your page. Not on individual profiles, but on other pages. Click on the top right gearbox to "use page as" and use it as your church. Now go forth, and comment on the same sort of community and connected organizations as above. The more you comment, the more visible your page will be.

6) Post. Post. Post. I have found the sweet spot to be 2-4 posts a day. It might be different on your page. But remember -- every day that you do not post something, you lose some of your audience. So try to post at least one thing every day.

Here is the question to ask yourself: If I was not a member of this church, would I follow this page?

Your goal is to provide quality, engaging content for the wider community. That is how you build the audience, who will then be there to take notice on the occasions that you post an announcement about your ministry.