10 Ways to Use Facebook in Your Ministry
This post originally ran on the blog of Dan Navarra, a Pastor to Youth at Trinity United Presbyterian Church in California. Check out Dan’s blog here.
I am a huge fan of social media. I often say, if there were something I were to ever write a doctoral paper on, it would probably be on something in the world of social media, marketing, and ministry. I’m not sure how that would work, but I love all three, and they all relate on some level.
Does your ministry use Facebook? On a scale of 1 to 10, what would you give your ministry or church as a rating in how much leverage Facebook gives you in marketing your church brand and communicating to your people? Is your rating number a little low? Here are 10 easy ways to use Facebook for ministry that may kick you up a notch.
1. Create a Page, Not A Group
The biggest difference between pages and groups is the “fan” element. When a person clicks like on your ministry fan page, they get the updates in their news feed. Also, pages are open to the public: you don’t need to be a fan to see the page. Groups offer similar features, but people are in general more reluctant to join a group if they are fringe attenders, or just part of the “crowd” your ministry has influence over. But people are far more willing to “like” a ministry because it shows less commitment. The point of Ministry and Facebook is to be as inclusive as possible. Also, this allows you, as the page admin, to post things NOT as your own personal Facebook profile, which helps to make the ministry more generic, and not dependent on your individual presence if you change churches or ministries.
2. Create Groups For Small Groups & Leadership Teams
My small group of high school guys recently determined that they wanted to create a private and locked group on Facebook where they can talk about “stuff.” It has been a great tool for reminding them of meetings, events, and having discussions. It has also led to some students who would rather not associate with the group, but who are friends with guys in the group, have gotten our brand in their face again.
3. Post Pictures Quick
Don’t wait a week to get your event pictures up on Facebook. Ride the buzz of your last event and get them posted as soon as the event is over! The name of the game is momentum! I know you just got home from a week of camp and haven’t slept in days, but this needs to happen before you take your comp-time vacation. Always tag at least one student in every picture. They will take it from there and the memories from your event will live in internet history forever!
4. Always Create Events For Your Special Events
Flyers are on their way out. No matter how cool and sexy I make my ministry flyers, students just don’t take them and pass them out to their friends and an acceptable rate. Plus they can get expensive to print if you want them to look trendy and do full-bleed stuff. Everything is virtual now. So create a slick image for your special event, upload it to Facebook, create an event with it, and then encourage your students to “share” the event, or to invite their friends. It literally is a click of the button way of them inviting their friends.
5. Have Facebook On Your Mobile Phone
Many have seen the stat that has anticipated by 2012, 80% of all cell phones in use will be internet ready – which means tons of your students are going to have Facebook in their pockets all of the time. That means you should have it in your pocket as well. Create boundaries by logging out on your weekend or Sabbath, but during your “ministry” hours, be ready to make quick replies and wall postings while on the go.
6. Tie Your Facebook Fan Page to Your Twitter Feed
For your students who don’t have Facebook Mobile, they can receive tweets from your ministry sent to their cell phones as text messages by texting “follow @myhypotheticalministry” to 40404 without quotes. You can tie your Facebook to Twitter so that when your fan page posts a status, it automatically tweets it out. Students can get “Youth Group starts in 20 minutes!” sent straight to their phones. If you pay for a ministry text messaging service, dump it now.
7. Check Your Personal Facebook and Ministry Facebook Daily
Social Media is only a positive force if you use it. If a student or parent doesn’t need an instant answer, they can leave a voicemail or email. But most students expect that Facebook is the fastest way to get a hold of a person if they don’t have your personal mobile number. Don’t write dissertations in reply, but acknowledge everything. The “like” button is your friend!
8. Never Miss A Birthday
Always post on your student’s wall on their birthday. It reminds them you exist and makes you seem more accessible.
9. Use the @ Sign To Link People To Your Fan Page
When you type a status update about your ministry, use the @ sign and then type your fan page name in, and it will create a link in your update. This is just another open door that can allow for click-through to your fan page. It’s also easy for students to share that link with their friends if it is in their news feeds.
Editor’s note: Tagging an individual to a Page’s post can only be done in one of two ways: that user has commented or liked the post and you can tag them in the comments, or you are friends with them on your personal profile and you use your fan page as yourself. Facebook prevents tagging people randomly as a page administrator.
10. Post Video Announcements On Your Fan Page
If you have a webcam, you can upload easy and quick announcement videos with literally two clicks of the mouse to your fan page wall where students will have the video pop up in their news feed. Videos are eye candy. Students will watch them just to see what the video is of. And try to come up with creative titles too.
Your Turn to Share
I love this post from Dan because it is so practical. For those who are just starting out in church communications and, quite honestly, for those who need a swift kick in the pants regarding the basics, Dan nails it. What would you add to his list? How have you used Facebook to tell your organizations story? How have you used Facebook to engage your fan base? Please share your expertise. – Dave Shrein