Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Facebook Page

Techno Deacon Recommended:
Yes, a great way to highlight your ministry's happenings for others where they already are.

Free (unless you want to pay to advertise your page)

If you are interested in how technology might best serve your church, it is safe to assume that you have at least heard of Facebook. Comparing official Facebook and U.S. Census statistics, there are more than 500 million unique Facebook users, which works out to being 7% of the global population. Although that is a surprising fact in itself, it is more noteworthy that there are more than 146 million in the United States and almost 17 million in Canada, which means that 47% of the United States population and 49% of the Canadian population are on Facebook. Although these statistics indicate that slightly over half of Americans and Candians do not make use of Facebook (and, therefore, your church should not rely solely on Facebook for fear of isolating and neglecting half your church), it is remarkable that almost half of these populations do make use of Facebook.

Facebook Pages (Page) can provide your ministry with some of the tools it needs to help interweave the life of the church with the lives of church members and to help church members invite their friends into the life of the church. Once you set up your Facebook Page, the members of your church can become "Fans" of the page by clicking the ubiquitous "Like" button. Once they have done this, everything that you do with the Page will automatically begin appearing on their "News Feed," a feature that highlights interesting developments among a Facebook user's social network when they first sign in to Facebook.

Features (and a few suggestions on how you might use them):
1. Announcements: When you post a "Status Update" on your Facebook page, that update will be posted prominently on your Page's "Wall" (the first thing people see when they visit your Facebook Page) and will be distributed to the News Feeds of all of the church members who have become Fans.
How you might use it: Whether you want to quickly distribute a passage of Scripture to help prepare people for Sunday Worship, let people know that the church will be closed today due to weather conditions, put out a call for prayer on an important issue, or send out a last minute reminder about an event, you could do it with Status Updates. You can't expect to reach everyone in your church this way, but you can expect this to help reach some people.

2. Events: Facebook Pages offer you an easy-to-use platform for listing your ministry's events. Within one or two minutes, you can provide the information on what event is coming up, when and where it will take place, provide a snazzy picture to help communicate what will be taking place, and send a Facebook invitation to every Fan of the Facebook Page. When the Fans (i.e. your church members) RSVP for the event, they will be reminded as the event approaches and offered the opportunity to send out invitations to their own Facebook Friends.
How you might use it: Your church will be meeting next Saturday at a local park to distribute meals and clothing to people in the community who are in need. You list the event on your Facebook Page and invite all the church members who are fans of the page. They RSVP as "Attending" and some of them invite their unchurched friends. As Tuesday approaches, those who have RSVPed are reminded of the event and of the need for donations.

3. Sharing Photos: Although there is no shortage of photo-sharing resources on the internet, Facebook offers a highly intuitive format for uploading photos, organizing them into albums, providing them with captions, "Tagging" the individuals in the pictures (telling who the people in the picture are so that the pictures also are available from their individual Facebook Profiles), and sharing the photos.
How you might use it: Photo sharing provides a helpful pictorial record of the life of the church, and also gives those interested in joining a church the opportunity to see in a small way what the church is like.
Warning: Sharing photos requires discretion. Be sure that those individuals appearing in the photos are comfortable having the images shared online, and be especially careful in obtaining parental permission before sharing any images of children.

4. Sharing Videos: Basically the same as Sharing Photos, except, of course, that you are also sharing videos.

5. Discussions: Although this feature seems to be seldom used, Facebook Pages offer a space in which the Fans of the Page can interact on a message board, potentially providing an avenue for theological discussion, sharing prayer requests, and reflecting on past events.

6. Importing Blogs: If your church or pastor has a blog, you can set up your Page to import the blog posts and distribute them among the Page's Fans, thereby encouraging people to read a blog when they might otherwise have been unaware that the blog even existed.

7. Linking to your Site: Perhaps your church has a website that you would like to help direct people to. You can easily provide links to your church's web page from the Facebook Page. There is also the potential for interweaving your website and Facebook Page (article forthcoming).

8. Applications: Facebook Pages can also make use of applications that offer even more features on your Facebook Page. A few are helpful, many are not, but you could try to employ them creatively.

Other Ideas for How You Might Use It:
For a church plant, a Facebook Page can be a great way to begin spreading awareness of the plant's existence among the local community as you make friends and connect with them on Facebook.
For missionaries, a Facebook Page provides you with an easy way to update your supporters on the life and needs of your mission.

Helpful Examples

No comments:

Post a Comment