Facebook for Churches, A Rethink

This post has been in the back of my mind for a while now. I keep reading more and more about how Facebook is reducing the number of people that see your page posts, unless your paying of course. If you’re paying, your church Facebook Page posts can reach all kinds of people, and you can even specify the demographics of the people you’d like to reach. This can be really cool, and in the grand scheme of things it’s not a lot of money we’re talking about. The principal however is isn’t something I like. And I’m not the only one. I was reading a post on Christian Media Magazine about The Problem With Facebook, that really hit on a lot of my points, but also included this great video that goes more in depth about what’s going on and some of the problems with Facebook for Churches.

The Problem with Facebook for Churches

Many churches have started using Facebook as a main communications vehicle for reaching people in the congregation. This makes sense, with over 14 million Canadians checking into Facebook every day, that’s like half the population. Facebook is where people are. The problem is that you’re lucky if you reach 5% of them. Facebook wants to make money, which I understand, and they want to reward good content, which I also understand, but for churches, especially small ones, there’s no money to give and it’s hard to make the kind of quality content Facebook requires these days. Plus, unlike when people like a brand, they’re generally liking a church Facebook page because they want to stay up to date with what’s going on. The question then becomes, how to do we fix this?

Should Churches Stop Using Facebook?

Part of my feels that Facebook isn’t worth the effort for churches any more, especially smaller ones, but it’s still where you’re going to find half of Canadians.

 Daily Facebook usage in Canada is higher than both the global and U.S. averages
                                                                                                            – The Financial Post

This to me says churches need to continue to be on Facebook. It’s also important to have a presence there so that people looking for you find you there and know you’re working in this century. I would say though, it might not be worth putting lots of effort into it. For sure you shouldn’t COUNT on people getting the message if you post it to your church Facebook Page.

Now, I don’t know that this is the best answer. Part of me feels that this isn’t the right answer, but I also know that spending lots of time, effort, and money trying to get your Facebook reach up may not be the best option for churches either.

So what do we do? Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, some other social network I haven’t heard of yet?

Oddly perhaps, if your main goal is to reach current people involved in your ministry the best way to reach people is still good old fashioned email. I know, some of you are thinking “email, really, that’s so not cool”. Cool or not, it’s effective. If it wasn’t, why would Twitter, Facebook, and the other social networks send you emails when there are new posts you might be interested in?

If however you’re looking to get the word out to your local community. Take a look at where the people you’re trying to reach spend their time online. Maybe it’s Facebook, in which case it’s time to put together a good strategy, and start thinking about paying. If it’s somewhere else though, put your focus there and spend less time on Facebook.

Don’t Give Up

I know more complication is not what you’re after, but there’s no point wasting time on things that aren’t going to work as well as you hope either. And don’t give up hope for Facebook. The world of social media is changing all the time, maybe Facebook will realize the damage they are doing churches and non-profits and treat them differently then companies. I’m not expecting it, but we can always hope.

What do you think, should churches stop focusing on Facebook?

Learning Opportunity:
If you’d like to learn more about Church Social Media use, join me and other church social media professionals at one of the upcoming Going Digital for His Kingdom conferences. You’ll get to learn from some of the best minds out there on how to improve your ministry using Social Media.Going Digital for God's Kingdom

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