You may be using social media to connect with people who are shopping for a church, but the majority of people you interact will already be a part of your church. So while you can also use Facebook to “market” the church, you should focus on engaging those who are already there.
Even amid rumors that it is on the decline, Facebook is still the largest social network in the world. Your community is likely already active there, so why not reach them where they are?
TRY THESE 7 WAYS TO START ENGAGING YOUR CHURCH COMMUNITY THROUGH FACEBOOK:
Pastors only get a short window of time to pack a major Biblical principle into a message. Delve further into the discussion during the week with your online community. Share links to more resources on the subject, post Scripture, ask relevant questions. Don’t let them forget about everything they just learned only to be reminded the following Sunday. And if your people are then sharing some of this information to their friends, they fuel the social outreach.3. Recruit volunteers
If you have a special program or event around the corner, utilize social media to recruit the help your church will need. Or if there is an immediate need—the church needs emergency maintenance, an elderly member is sick and needs assistance—get the word out right away. Some things just can’t wait till next Sunday. The volunteers will usually show up. They just have to know there’s a need.
4. Share appropriate prayer requests
Encouraging your community to pray for one another can be a great use of social media—supporting those who are facing challenging times is a major function of the church. But be careful as this can become a slippery slope. Remember, people outside your congregation could easily see these updates. Make sure all prayer requests you post are appropriate for the public and that your page doesn’t become a sounding board for gossip or airing out dirty laundry. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back.
5. Communicate cancellations or changes in schedule
When the next blizzard hits or a small group has to be cancelled, you don’t want people showing up because they didn’t know there was a change in schedule. Making these announcements on social media will help you reach more people, and those that see it can help spread the word.
6. Post photos
You just hosted a church picnic or put on a missions conference and took plenty of pictures. Create a photo album so that everyone can have access to the photos and tag themselves or their friends. They just might share them on their own timeline, and unchurched friends will want to be a part of what they see.
And if you’re on Instagram, you can connect that account to automatically post photos to your Facebook page.
7. Create buzz about an upcoming event or special service
This is another area where your church people should be able to help out. Give teasers about the Christmas program or a special speaker and let your community share that information with their friends and family. Their word of mouth will do more than you ever could to bring those people in.
Facebook allows you to create events that your church community can use to directly invite people to your upcoming program or conference. Invitees can even send a digital RSVP so you get good idea how effective this tool is for your church.
Use your other church-wide communications to encourage your community to follow you on Facebook—place a note in the bulletin or a link to your page at the end of an email. They’ll likely follow that link!
Facebook even provides a guide for causes and nonprofits that can help you get started and develop a strategy.
Make sure what you post provides some kind of value to your community. That way they’ll stick and around and your audience will grow. Focus on engagement rather than the number of likes. Interact with your community—don’t just shove information down their throats. It isn’t a bulletin board, but a tool for two-way communication.
Let us know—how are you using Facebook to connect with your members and the community?
Also check out these other resources as you plan your church’s Facebook strategy:
Image Credits: istockphoto