By Jonathan Howe
In an episode of Rainer on Leadership earlier this week, I explained Facebook post boosting and how churches can utilize it to inform people in their communities. I soon began receiving questions from pastors and church leaders about best practices on Facebook.
While many churches have Facebook pages, most do not know how best to utilize the platform for Kingdom growth. So here are nine keys to getting the most out of your church Facebook page.
- Give as much information as possible in the “About” section. Facebook offers several fields for you to enter information about your church—use them. Don’t make those interested in your church have to click away to your website and find the basic information of service times or location. Also, set up your church as a “Company Organization, or Institution” and not a “Business or Place.” Certain functionality is included in the specific categories, and the former is preferred for churches.
- Use correct graphic sizes. Avatars (or profile pictures) should be square and the cover images (header images) should be sized correctly. Visit this Facebook page for all the specific graphic dimensions. Well-done graphics allow you to make a great first impression with potential guests. Poor graphics do not.
- Remember your audience. Many of those who like and view your page will be members looking to stay in the know about what is happening at the church. But you will have potential guests viewing as well. Your content must appeal to both.
- Post appropriate content. This is related to the previous point. As with your church bulletin, not everything going on at the church needs to be on your Facebook page. I’ve seen everything from funeral arrangements to surgery updates on church Facebook pages. In most instances, those don’t belong on a church’s public Facebook page. Use private emails or church groups for those kinds of updates. Facebook page content should be of importance to both guests and members and be of great importance.
- Get permission to post photos of kids. Many parents have an aversion to posting pics of their children, so it’s always best to ask or make parents aware that there is the possibility pictures from events might end up online.
- Use Facebook events for major church-wide events. I’ve seen some churches add an event for every service, every week. This is not good. At all. Facebook events can be highly effective, so save their use for major ministry or outreach events.
- Encourage your members to share. Do not hesitate to ask members to share updates, promotional pictures, or events. It’s always better to have a few hundred people sharing a post rather than just your church page. As always, make sure what you are asking people to share looks good, is grammatically correct, and will be attractive to potential guests.
- Answer any messages or questions promptly. The only thing more frustrating than not being able to find an answer is asking a question only to have it ignored. When people ask you questions through the message app or in comments, answer them quickly and courteously.
- Monitor the page and stay current. You may not have major events or news to share each day, but someone (or a team of someones) should be checking the Facebook page routinely. Always be available to help a member or potential guest.
I know many of you use Facebook for your church. What are some other keys that you would add to this list?
Jonathan Howe serves as Director of Strategic Initiatives at LifeWay Christian Resources, the host and producer of Rainer on Leadership and SBC This Week, and the managing editor of LifeWayPastors.com. Jonathan writes weekly at ThomRainer.com on topics ranging from social media to websites and church communications. Connect with Jonathan on Twitter at @Jonathan_Howe.
I would also add that a Facebook account should be unlinked from a church’s Twitter account. Since you can post more frequently on Twitter, you don’t want all of those tweets sent to Facebook. Too many posts on a Facebook page that no one is liking or sharing will hurt the overall reach of a Facebook page. Which means that really important post about the upcoming Easter service could get pushed out of people’s news feeds because Facebook’s algorithm thinks people don’t want to see your posts. I’m not sure if I explained that correctly but I’m a huge fan of Facebook and Twitter NOT being connected. They are different social media platforms and should have their own strategy.
That’s some great advice, Julie!
The entire list is good, but I cannot stress the importance of #9 enough. It is so frustrating to go on a church’s Facebook page and see that their last post is the notification for their 2011 annual meeting.
Do you recommend posting individual sermon links on the church’s Facebook page?
I would. Use the sermon series graphic with a link to either the itunes podcast page or the page on the website.
Here is a MUST! Every church must have more than one administrator for your Facebook page. Business/organization type pages are only accessibly for administration through a personal/private account. If you only have one administrator and that person looses access to their personal account they also loose access to any other pages they manage. If they were the only manager, there is now no one who can access the business/organization page. This can happen when a person looses their password, when a person accidentally violates a FaceBook policy, or worst case, dies.
I learned this the hard way. It can take a couple of months to regain access to a personal account if a FaceBook policy is accidentally violated. In my case it was sending too many messages to people who liked my page. I was sending out thank-you messages to a few hundred people. Because they were not my personal friends in FaceBook (they had only liked my business page), Facebook thought I was a SPAMer.
Great point. There needs to always be at least two people with access. Not just for this reason, but several others.
Good point. Our administrative assistant at my job is the page administrator for our business, but I also have editing privileges. There is a way to set it up in the page settings. Good to have an extra person to help monitor and post things.
I suggest having multiple FB pages – one main one but separate pages for outreach ministries that can be used to meet people with needs who do not equate meeting their need with going to church.
Then get members to share the page frequently – have the responsible staff member have a Facebook Page app on their phone to respond quickly.
Use Google Voice/Hangouts so people can request info by text too without staff having to give out personal phone numbers!
Those are good as well. Just be careful about the separate pages. Not every little thing needs a page. Be wise in how you use them.
Effective use of the header is important. We always feature our theme or the next major event. We also pick a great song from one of the services and upload it. We usually get a few hundred to a few thousand views per video.
Do you not have copyright laws to contend with regarding uploading a song onto your Facebook page?
We have find the use of the church’s Facebook page to actually be pretty frustrating due to the inconsistent reach if you don’t pay. Recently, we had one post that reached 5, one that reached 179, and one that reached over 500. People are missing important information which is why I usually end up sharing many posts on my own page so more people will see it. Any suggestions?
Organic reach is tricky. Some thing might not get much reach because people are not that interested in them. You sharing on your own page should help and it would be good to have some other ‘social media ambassadors’ within the parish who regularly share, comment and like posts. This would be ideal for things like a fish supper of VBS event.
What about the use of Facebook groups? I would appreciate any advice on how those should be used with -or in addition to – church pages.
Good question. And probably worth more than a quick comment. I’ll get a post on that in the future.
I know you’re going to post on this later, but just a quick comment on using a FB group. We currently use a group for our church instead of a page solely because when we post to it, it sends a notification to all group members. A page does not and only shows up in their newsfeed. The one major drawback is that when I post to the group, it is posted from my personal account instead of from the church’s account.
I’m looking forward to reading your thoughts on groups as a whole.
110% agree with all of the above. A competent administrator is now an absolute necessity, also Instagram, Twitter and Snapchat. Answer any messages or questions promptly, monitor the page and stay current and squash anything inappropriate immediately. It’s a two way conversation after all. It is very different than the one way conversation from the pulpit but conformity can still be easily enforced.
Jonathan, I’d love to hear your thoughts about does a church need to use a Facebook page or a Facebook group? Are there advantages to both or what? Thanks!
Also, be careful not to brag too much on the spiritual life of the pastor. Elders, or membership. Remember there are former members out there that know them all too well. It will make their stomachs turn.
Hello, Would you mind telling me more about how this will affect my personal Facebook account. How does that work? Will things I post on either of them cross over? Will the 2nd administrator have access to post on my personal Facebook account?