What To Do About Facebook
by Kathy Copas
Coordinator of Communication and Evangelism
The other day, someone in our diocese mentioned they were still having trouble in their parish getting some energy going around Facebook. They knew it was an excellent tool and that both parish regulars and others in their community and beyond were connecting with it. But, what types of things should they post?
I see a lot of parish Facebook sites each month as I troll for parish items to include here in The Gathered Community and beyond. Here are just a few things that I have noticed and some ideas that seem to have worked in different parishes. Hope this helps!
1. Post Anything---I see a significant amount of parish Facebook pages that haven't been updated for months or even more than a year. Posting anything is better than nothing at all. If nothing else, take a moment and go out and take a picture of the front of the church on a beautiful spring day. Take a quick shot of anything in your midst that implies life and vitality. It may as simple as someone who comes in to volunteer in the church office or is sorting food in your food pantry. And, if you can't manage to take a pic or video, just announce an upcoming church event. Better still, use a free stock photo (make sure it is free by checking with your stock photo site!) or consider creating a Meme. There are a lot of free and easy to learn Meme generator apps these days for both Android and iPhone. Just Google "Free Meme Generators" and pick your favorite!
2. Put Someone in Charge of It---All Saints, Indianapolis,is forming a social media team just to work at that task. It really helps to have social media not be just one more duty the rector or church secretary is expected to do. Someone (or some people) in your parish probably loves social media. Empower them to help your parish.
3. Invite Your Whole Parish Into It---If you're having trouble generating enough content to support a Page, add an open Group where anyone in your parish can post. As long as you moderate them to take down the mischief makers from the spam community, Facebook Groups can have more conversation and participation than an official Facebook Page. There's nothing wrong with having both.
4. Create Times in Your Parish When Social Media Posting is Actively Encouraged---A good time is announcement time. Actively invite those in your parish to get out their phones and check in via Facebook or post pics of some of their friends/family or even some beautiful church scenes in your midst. And, don't forget video. The Offertory anthem is likely coming up. You could share a bit of your wonderful music with those who view your page. Don't forget coffee hour, church school, or your mission/outreach projects as other great places to get photos (even if they are selfies!) demonstrating the vitality of your parish. You can also do a parish photo or video call-out by posing a question or challenge, as in---Show us your favorite part of the Sunday morning experience. And you can invite interaction by posing a picture of an obscure part of your building or grounds and seeing who can identify it.
5. Remember to Actively Cross Post---I've noticed that some clergy or laity (just because I happen to have them on my Friends list) post spectacular photos on their own personal page of great happenings at their church. But, they don't cross-post those same pics with their parish's Page or Group. It only takes a moment to share or re-post. There is one parish in particular that does an amazing job posting great pics on Instagram. But, if you then look at their Facebook page or even their website, no pictures are to be found.
6. If You Haven't Experimented with a Facebook Push, Consider Giving It a Try---Example: You have a beautiful image and a compelling invitation to Pentecost and your parish picnic on your Facebook Page. For even as little as under 25 dollars, you can boost that post to the Facebook feeds of others in your surrounding area. Some parishes have had real success at promoting their events via this tool. Recently, I did a boost for a friend who was running for political office, picking small communities in his county. Within three days, close to 10,000 nearby people had viewed his post, with over 350 sharing it with their own followers and many hundreds clicking through to engage the website or seek more information. That one strategy resulted in close to a hundred persons attending an upcoming event. It can be a powerful but very inexpensive tool. And, Facebook makes it easy for Page administrators to use.
7. Remember #episcopalIN---When you put #episcopalIN at the beginning of your pictures, videos, blogs, podcasts, or posts of all kinds, it collects to an aggregator site and is seen well beyond our parishes and diocese, including to The Episcopal Church churchwide offices. If you want to get exposure for your photo or project, prefacing it with that hashtag is a great way to do it.
What are some of the social media ideas that have worked best in your parish? Hit us up at #episcopalIN or here at email@example.com.
Until next month,