There are a lot of social platforms you can use as a church and probably a lot more coming.
You have Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Clubhouse, Snapchat, Pinterest just to name a few.
Facebook has always been the OG, of course not as OG as Myspace, but the most original platform that is still thriving.
I’m a millennial, so I remember Myspace clearly. It was the largest social networking service from 2005-2009 - which was all my high school years! I had my friends all organized in my Top 8 and if someone got moved to a lower spot, you know something is up...drama. And if you have music on your page, then you’re the real Myspace expert.
Then Facebook came along in 2004 and became almost as popular as Myspace by 2008. And nowadays, millennials say Facebook is for “older people” because we got our pretty squares on Instagram.Now the younger generation has all these new social apps, are dancing everywhere and who knows what!
So really, in the last few years, Facebook has taken over the world - I’m kidding (only a little).
So as a church you may be wondering, do we get on all the social platforms? Do we focus on a few? What is necessary? How do we “keep up”? How do we reach each generation effectively? How should social media be a part of our strategy? How do we make sure this doesn’t replace in-person community?
First, let’s talk about your overall approach to social media, the future of Facebook and then some tools your church can be utilizing on Facebook.
How Churches Should Approach Social Media
Many businesses and personal brands are utilizing the power of social media to grow their audiences, grow their influence in the world, grow their email lists and ultimately grow their profits.
Now as a church, our goal isn’t profit. Our goal is to advance our mission. So social media doesn’t replace what we already do, but it adds to what we do to help us become even more effective.
My thought on this? You should adopt the same strategies these businesses and personal brands are using in their social media marketing in order to grow your influence and ultimately advance your mission at your church.
You need to know, there are proven processes and strategies in the business world on how to utilize social media and my goal is to bring those into the church world. You shouldn’t have to waste time guessing.
I want to take the pressure off you and your Pastors on deciding what is best to do next for social media, and teach you what you need to know to work smarter and see the results you’re looking for.
Now, you may not have capacity at this moment to adopt everything businesses can with social, and that's ok. You need to do what you can, and add more in layer by layer. But the goal should be, to emulate what the business world is doing but shift it through the lense of a church or nonprofit.
The Future of Facebook for Churches
You may be interested to know that Facebook does plan to focus on the “Religious Experience” in 2021. They’ve partnered with some larger churches to test new features and make the platform better for churches. Facebook is the largest and more influential social media company.
Facebook developers were meeting weekly with Hillsong to explore what the church could look like on Facebook and what apps they might create for giving, video or livestreaming according to a NyTimes article.
Of course Facebook has their own motives, profit. But it’s a platform that can serve churches well, allowing you to better connect with your community and accomplish your mission.
Let’s dive into some Facebook features that can benefit your church.
4 Facebook Tools To Use for Churches
Tool #1: Facebook Reels
Reels have now made their way to Facebook! Reels on Facebook will help you to reach new audiences and build your community.
Facebook Reels can reach everyone, not just your existing Facebook followers (similar to Reels on Instagram).
You can share Reels to Facebook in two ways.
#1 You can Create Facebook Reels directly in the App
#2 You can share you Instagram Reels directly to Facebook
To share directly from Instagram:
Tap the “Menu” tab.
Tap “Settings” and click “Privacy”, then head to “Reels”.
From there, toggle “Recommend on Facebook” on.
If you don’t want all your Reels to share to Facebook, you can leave this setting off and you’ll have the option to “Recommend on Facebook” for each Reel.
A small number of Instagram users will see the option for the Reel to be recommended on Facebook. So make sure to check if you have this option and be the first church to get on it!
Tool #2: Facebook Groups
The focus on Facebook has shifted from Facebook Pages to Facebook Groups. It’s still important to have a complete profile on Facebook with all your information, cover photo, bio and important links, because if someone lands on your Facebook page, we want them to know your church is alive and well.
But you’ll notice you won’t get as much engagement on your Facebook page. Although Facebook is the biggest platform with over 2.7 billion users, Facebook engagement (the amount of time people are spending on the platform) is in decline overall.
For example, a recent Pew Research study found that 42% of Facebook users had reduced their daily activity and engagement on the platform.
What makes groups effective is that they are extremely focused on a specific topic. That way, they attract the right people who want to engage and build community with others around a specific shared interest.
For churches internally this could look like Groups around a specific ministry, a specific class or area of education.
Another way to look at Facebook Groups is to create a group, that’s not for your church members specifically but to provide benefits to your community in order to meet more people.
For example, you could create Groups for: connecting Christian women, Christian humor, a Christian support Group for Mental Health, Christian moms or dads groups. You could also create non-christian groups about: sports, local moms or dads, whatever your hobby is, etc. Then host meet-ups to do activities together! What a great way to connect with people in your community!
Tool #3: Facebook Live
Facebook Lives are great for virtual events like services, but also for sharing other content in the world.
You can also use Lives for Q&As or educational purposes. The key with Facebook Lives is consistency. You have to not worry about how many people are watching, but focus on providing value through your videos week after week.
If Facebook Ads are a part of your marketing strategy, you can run Ads to your Facebook Lives after you’ve created them to keep them living on. This is an extremely effective strategy!
I suggest not running Ads to your streamed church services but to some other type of educational content that would related to a wide range of people
Tool #4: Facebook Messenger Rooms
Lastly, Facebook launched Messenger Rooms. It’s like a conference call with up to 50 people at once with no time limit.
It’s modeled after tools like Zoom. When you set up a Messenger Room call, a notification will pop up on your friends and followers homepage so they can immediately jump in and join the call.
You can even invite your Instagram followers and contacts on WhatsApp - to bring more people over to your Facebook. Plus, anyone can join a Messenger Room, they don’t need a Facebook or Instagram profile to use it.
Should Your Church Focus on Facebook?
So what social platform should you focus on? You should use whichever platforms your current community uses most.
Most likely for churches, that is Instagram or Facebook with a bias towards either one.
Until you’ve mastered Instagram and Facebook, I would suggest not trying to “do it all”. Don’t worry about adding in Clubhouse, TikTok and anything new until you get the basics down with the largest platforms. This will be way more effective for your church.