Seriously Church, Stop Using Facebook This Way

Facebook celebrates its 12th birthday next month. Time flies.

Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc.) has changed our lives. I remember the first time I registered on Facebook’s website. I thought I’d be the only person with an account but no friends. Then, almost like magic, people found me from the past. And I located long-lost relatives and friends. I started to figure out how to write content that attracted more people. Now, throughout all my social networks, I have almost 30,000 who are “friends”. Find me on most social sites here.

Perhaps followers would be a better word. Or stalkers. Ultimately, they’re people who want, for some reason, to keep up with me, my life and my thoughts. I still find it humbling.

What about your church? Since Facebook has 1.5 billion active users, it assures that almost everyone is on it. It makes sense that a lot of churches have a page that communicates to their congregation. Most churches didn’t jump on the Facebook bandwagon till 2009 (just 7 years ago).

But why do people follow you? If we understand that, we’ll understand how to get more followers and what content to develop.

  1. Most people follow pages to associate themselves with a “brand”. They want others to see that they’re proud of who they follow. The start of social media evangelism perhaps.
  2. They want to be entertained and informed by your updates. This is where the church starts to get it wrong.

When it comes to entertainment, let’s look at TV. We tune into our shows for hours because of the entertaining content. During the show (unless you’re watching Downton Abbey or other PBS shows) you get some ads. We’ve become accustom to this ratio (approx. 80% entertainment to 20% ads). Most people endure the ads to get the entertainment. Still TV is the biggest advertising medium, accounting for 57.6% of all ad buys (Nielsen). So, why do people pay for ads if people tune in to watch the entertainment? Because, along the way, people see and respond to the ads. The 80% allows the 20% to work. And when the entertainment wanes, people stop “following” the show.

I say all of this because a lot of churches have decided to use their Facebook page to scream ads (announcements, reminders, etc) at their followers. When they need to develop wholesome entertainment that attracts (and keeps) their followers; and then insert the occasional “ad”. More people will respond to them since more people will be engaged with your page. And you’ll be more likely to attract the unchurched too.

Why is this so important for the church? Because of your mission.

When I ask most Pastors which is more important: your people or your programs; almost 100% say “people, of course”. But when I look at church Facebook pages, I often see only reminders of programs. To the outsider, it’s almost like you care more about programs.

That’s a shame.

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