For centuries, every culture has had a central place for people to socialize, buy and sell, and share ideas. In ancient Greek culture, it was the agora. In 2017, most commerce, socializing, and idea-sharing happens on Facebook. Entire companies and industries stake their success on the ability to connect with customers on Facebook (I’m referring to the people who are trying to sell you makeup or Plexus…) Facebook is also unique in that many of those who add you as “friends” or accept your request to be their “friend” have little to no knowledge of who you are!
Facebook isn’t something that we, as ministry people, should buck against or avoid. Facebook is a major part of 21st century life and so there is a legitimate place for the church to be involved. By now, many church leaders have come to understand that social media is a legitimate platform for outreach in most areas of the country. While many churches are seeing the need to have a Facebook page to help spread their message to their community, there aren’t so many that are effective at doing so.
I want to share a few principles that can help you reach more people in your community with Facebook. While I don’t claim to be a social media expert (there are too many of “those guys”), I have tried my best to learn from others and have seen these principles work for the Facebook pages I manage
Know your platform
If you want to reach more people with your church’s message on Facebook, it only makes sense that you personally experience the platform for yourself. You can never excel in a hobby by simply reading books and articles about it, so why could you expect to understand social media marketing without being a regular user of the platform?
While I understand that the majority of people who are reading this blog are Facebook users, I also understand that many people who have Facebook pages don’t regularly log in. As you use Facebook with a discerning eye, you’ll quickly pick up why some pages are able to reach people with their message and why others do not. And if being a regular user on Facebook goes against your standards or your personality, then perhaps there is someone else who should manage your church Facebook page (just a thought).
Keep it professional
Imagine handing out an invitation to your church that had a typo (or several) in it. Even worse, imagine handing someone an invitation to your church that forgot to mention the time you had services! Wouldn’t that be embarrassing and ineffective? If content that is in print form deserves to be professional, then it stands to reason that the content you share to represent your church on social media should be held to the same standard.
While a simple policy to double-check your spelling before posting should be easy (just google “covfefe”), it might take a little extra intentionality to make sure the graphics you share are professional. Let’s be real, if your latest church event post was made in Publisher with 5 different fonts, then it likely won’t help you reach your community. Luckily, for churches who lack a graphic designer on staff, there are several alternatives that offer pre-made, professional images for sharing on social media (Graceway Media, Share Faith, and many more).
Create content that people will interact with
This point is key! Due to the standard privacy settings, I see posts on my Facebook feed simply because other friends commented on them. Obviously, if a friend shares a post, that will show up on my feed too. So the way to gain more exposure for your church on Facebook is to post content that people will comment on or share!
For example, my pastor posted a simple post recently that asked our Facebook followers to comment what they were most scared of as he was preparing for a sermon on fear (35 comments with over 1,000 people seeing the post). I’ve also found that some of the content that gets shared the most at our church has been: sermon quotes, videos of special music, and testimony videos. Before you post, just ask yourself, “Would I want to share this if I saw it on my Facebook feed?”
Keep the content coming!
Every blog I’ve ever read or video I’ve ever watched on social media marketing includes this suggestion. The more you post on your page, the more often that people will see your (hopefully good) content. The more people see good content coming from your Facebook page, the more likely they are to follow your page to make sure they see everything you post. No matter what social media platform, I usually wait to see a few good posts from a page before I decide to follow it. It seems like most people follow that pattern, which is why the social media “gurus” suggest that you post often.
Creating good Facebook content and gaining more followers on Facebook is a means to end. We don’t want people just to follow our church Facebook page. We want them to become so familiar with the good reputation of the church we love that they decide try it out for themselves. And who knows? Maybe that person who followed from a distance will meet Jesus for themselves when they decide to attend your church
When you meet people where they are with the message of your church on social media, then it opens up the opportunity for Jesus to meet them where they are with the message of the gospel. So go out and do what you can to engage more people in your community!