With over two billion users, Facebook has long been the dominate player in the social media arena. Facebook also provides an opportunity for your church to connect with its congregation on a personal level. Here are a number of best practices you can use to create an effective Facebook strategy for your church.
Creating a Facebook page—and it should be a page, not a profile or a group—for your church is simple. Updating the Facebook page on a constant basis isn’t as easy; but it’s necessary if your church hopes to be effective on Facebook.
This means posting regular content to the page. While posting frequency depends on your church’s size and audience, a good place to start is posting once per day during the week and then a few more times on Sunday.
You should also check regularly to ensure that the About Us information is accurate and up-to-date. Most returning users won’t bother to check this, but it’s crucial to setting a good impression with new guests.
Change out your cover photo periodically to keep things fresh. An easy tactic is to use your current sermon series graphic in this space. This tactic rotates the content regularly enough, while also keeping it consistent with your other communications platforms.
Engage in Conversation
While most traditional communications vehicles are one-way, social media is a two-way street. When done effectively, others will communicate to you via direct messages and comments on posts. Be sure to respond to them so that they know you are listening.
When someone asks a question by way of direct message, answer it. They’ve taken the time to reach out to you and ignoring them would be rude. Use the opportunity to show the same customer service you would if speaking to them in person.
When people comment on your post, be sure to talk back. Thank them for their input. Try to start a conversation back and forth. This will only encourage them to engage more and further gives your page a personal touch. You can even create content intentionally aimed at starting dialogue.
It’s understandable that you can’t monitor your Facebook page 24/7. Enlist the help of a volunteer social media team. Grant them limited admin access to the page. Assign them designated times to check in on the page. And give them some guidelines on how to respond to people.
Provide Valuable Content
What is the point of having a church Facebook page? Hint: it’s not just to bring people to your church. Facebook gives you an opportunity to reach people online that will never come to your church in person.
Think bigger by using Facebook to inspire, educate and engage. There are plenty of other different end goals, but these are three that can be accomplished through value-driven content.
Once you’ve created goals for your Facebook strategy, be sure that all of your content ties back to one of these elements. Before posting a photo, ask yourself how it meets one (or more) of those three goals. If it doesn’t, do you really need to post it?
Without a clear purpose in mind, your Facebook page will only just exist. And that isn’t a very good way to attract people to it. Make your content valuable and irresistible to share. Provide a resource that will bring people back time and again or share with their friends.
Be sure to post a variety of content. Share photos, links, quotes, graphics, videos and questions. Visual elements are especially engaging, but be sure to utilize this variety to keep your content fresh and value-driven.
Pay for Advertising
Like it or not, Facebook is a business. Like all businesses, they exist to make money. They provide a great source of entertainment to billions of people, but they’ve also engineered a system that favors those who are willing to pay.
Too many churches, see that they can use Facebook for free and don’t believe they should ever pay to drive content. This hesitancy to pay is exactly what’s made advertising on Facebook a bargain.
For any small amount, you can boost your content to reach thousands of people. Better yet, Facebook gives you the ability to specifically target your ads on any number of demographics and audience interests. Then, you can see the results of these ads instantaneously.
If our purpose as the church is to reach more people, why wouldn’t we use this opportunity? Spend $50 and promote your next sermon series to a group in your community who would find it interesting. It will be far cheaper and more effective than any traditional ad or print mailer.
Don’t Focus on Likes as Part of Your Facebook Strategy
Measuring success by your following is an easy way to start, but it’s also a trap. Audience size isn’t a true gauge of success—audience engagement is. Don’t fall for chasing Likes.
Rather than focusing on growing your number of page likes, try to increase the percentage of that audience that is engaging with your content on a regular basis. A good baseline to aim for is a 15% engagement rate. That means, if your page has 1,000 Likes, at least 150 of them should be liking, commenting or sharing each one of your posts.
If you’re already following the advice to provide valuable content to your audience, engagement shouldn’t be a problem. And if you’re promoting this valuable content using effective Facebook ads, then an increase in following will take care of itself.