Eight Ways to Use Facebook…and Build Community
Facebook: my addiction (unless you want to count my other addiction to Trident Bubble Gum – don’t judge – it’s that or cigarettes). But back to FB (yes, it’s abbreviated because you know just how long that word is, my poor fingers): I love it. I hate it. I love it because it gives me access to people, ideas, and communities I would otherwise never know or be in touch with. I hate it because I can sit down for a one minute FB break and, lo and behold, 45 minutes have somehow passed by…it’s a total time waster.
But once again, I digress. It’s not all about me (so very sad) – but Facebook can be about you and your church. FB can help you develop an on-line presence and help your congregation have a heightened sense of community while reaching out to new people.
It almost seems like the HS (yes, the Holy Spirit) was working on this very topic during the last few days. I attended a webinar “Long Story Short: Stories in Social Media” with Beth Ann Locke sponsored by the Non-Profit Storytelling Conference last Wednesday. Then on Monday, a fabulous article popped up in Tom Ahern’s excellent email newsletter about Denise Cohn of Dogs Deserve Better, and how she increased her organization’s FB revenue by 3,000% (from $700 - $15,000).
Here are some of the nuggets that I gleaned from these two sources:
1. Focus on Facebook. 72% of people who are utilizing social media use Facebook. A distant second is Twitter with 23%. If you’re going to focus on one social network, it should be Facebook. The rest (for now) is just distraction.
2. Register your page as a non-profit (FB calls it “company, organization, or institution”). This way you can ask for donations (this is not an option if you register as a church or religious organization). Never set up a page? Here’s a video tutorial.
3. Your FB page should have a “donate now” option. When people click on it, it should take them to your PayPal account. This is another way to make it easy for people – who most likely are not carrying their checkbooks to worship – to tithe directly to your church.
4. Make your FB posts interactive. Have a call to action: “We need someone to make Taco Soup. Can you help?” “Pray for…” “Read this week’s scriptures…” “We need to fund our homeless ministry. You can help.” Ask a question: “What was your favorite part of ____ (fill in the blank)?” “What’s your favorite hymn?” This is a way to engage with and create community.
5. Use humor. Post a joke (there are hundreds of church ones on line), funny meme, cat video. Obvious caveat: use good judgment.
6. Always (if possible) use a photo or video. If you showed a video in worship, this is a perfect follow-up to post it for people who weren’t there.
7. Post often. The bigger organizations post (if you can believe this) every two hours. Posts only reach 7-11% of your readers so posting once in a blue moon leads to the “out of sight, out of mind” FB syndrome. If you’re new to this – start once a week and work up to once a day.
8. Make the post short and easy to read. This is not Shakespeare. Three lines plus a photo or video is long enough.
To be successful, the key is to find someone you trust who loves Facebook and will make this his or her mission and ministry. There’s really nothing to lose and so much to gain: community and one more way to attract people to your congregation. Love it or hate it, Facebook is definitely worth the investment. Just say you heard it straight from a FB addict.
What’s your church’s experience with Facebook? Shoot me an email and let me know what’s worked for you.
Cesie Delve Scheuermann is a consultant in stewardship, development, and grant writing. Over the past decade, while working as a volunteer and part-time consultant, she helped raise over $2.5 million dollars for numerous non-profit organizations. Did she mention that she gladly accepts Trident Bubble Gum in lieu of chocolate? She served as the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference Lay Leader from 2008-2012. Her position with the Conference is funded through a generous grant from the Collins Foundation; she is available to consult with churches in Oregon and Idaho. You can reach her at email@example.com.
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Cesie Delve Scheuermann is consultant in grant writing and stewardship/development working with the Conference. From 2008-12 she was the Conference Lay Leader for the Oregon-Idaho Annual Conference.