Since Facebook remains the most popular social networking platform, it can be an awesome way for your church to connect with your congregation, as well as to attract new visitors. A Facebook page is a great way to represent your church ovinline and to point people toward other resources, such as your church website or your blog.
Here are some ideas to keep your Facebook page updated and engaging:
Freshen up your cover image
Make sure it reflects your church’s unique personality and is meaningful. Consider pictures showing emotion, or “action” images of people worshipping or attending special events. You may want to highlight church volunteers serving in the community.
If your church grounds are particularly picturesque or you meet in an unusual or historic building, consider a scenic picture of the church itself. Turn your cover image into a work of art, and, most important, keep it fresh. Switch images often to maintain interest.
Update your “About” information
Since Google and Facebook Search use content from your “About” information, it is vital that you complete all fields. In addition, create a description of your church that is full of searchable keywords so your church’s information is easily found.
The Rev. Dan Wunderlich, a United Methodist extension minister, offers an excellent visual tutorial on improving your church’s Facebook page. It includes excellent tips for:
- Editing your page title
- Creating a custom page URL
- Editing your profile/cover photo (or video)
After you optimize the basics, check out part 2, about boosting Facebook interaction. Learn to:
- Add a Call-to-Action button
- Hide comments
- Turn “Visitor Posts” on/off
- Manage who can tag people in photos and videos
- Allow people to tag your church in photos
- Ban people from your page
- Add a reviews tab
- Set an auto-response/away message.
Create engaging content and appealing posts
There is a continuing debate about what is the correct length for Facebook text. Generally speaking, most reports seem to indicate that shorter posts get more “clicks.” However, longer posts can be a great way of providing valuable information to your readers and often perform better in Google searches.
So, Facebook’s “secret sauce” for engagement isn’t always clearly defined.
To some degree, the length of your post depends on what you are trying to accomplish. Are you trying to promote this year’s VBS? A short, catchy post with a link to the online registration form will probably do the trick.
Do you want to share how your church is on a mission to help solve the problem of homelessness in your city? That’s going to take a few more words.
Whether you write short or long content, the key to success seems to be in the actual writing. Every post needs to be written well. If you aren’t the one to do that, consider finding someone else who is. Create a social media volunteer dream team to take care of Facebook posts.
You should also be wary of “blowing up” everyone’s Facebook feed with too many posts in one day. Great Facebook posts for your church include a mix of educational and entertaining posts, shared content and promotional posts.
A good rule of thumb is to post four or five educational/entertaining posts for every internal promotion. Another idea is to develop a content marketing strategy and contextually plug an internal church event into a related educational/entertaining post.
For example, you could post a link of the top 100 most beautiful hiking trails in your state. At the end of that post, mention that one of your small groups will be going to several of these trails in the coming months, and each hike will include a break for a picnic, prayer, etc. It always helps to include interesting pictures, which should be an easy task if you’re hiking the most beautiful trails in your area.
Get everyone on board
Before you work to engage a new audience, make sure that your primary audience is connected to your Facebook page. During your regular staff meeting (or perhaps at the beginning of a worship service or special event), ask everyone to take out their smartphones, connect to Facebook, find your church Facebook page and hit “like.” Ask your congregation to use hashtags to connect their followers with your church’s posts. In addition, you might want to encourage staff members to like and comment on church Facebook posts or share them with someone else at least once a week. The more likes, comments and shares, the more prominence your posts will get and the longer they will remain in news feeds.
Post during times when your people will actually see your content
Since there are certain times when more people and organizations are likely to post, such as morning and evening, Facebook feeds can become crowded, and your message may be overlooked. Many articles instruct you to post during these peak times, but that may be bad advice because there are variable factors in play. If you have a new church Facebook page, or one with low engagement, you will have a low content ranking, meaning your posts won't see the light of day. A higher rank must be earned. If you post during peak hours, you’ll get choked out by other organizations or people with high rankings. What’s the point of posting something if nobody sees it? So if you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to post highly engaging content during off-peak hours and slowly work on building your online reputation. Once you start seeing your likes, shares and comments accelerate to higher numbers, you can assume you’re doing well and you can start posting your greatest content during peak hours. This will really generate engagement.
To get a high ranking you must get to know your audience, know what they like and focus on posting excellent content geared for their needs. Use the dashboards in Facebook Insights to find out all this information. You can see at a glance what content performs well, what your audience’s demographics consist of and when they’re active. Peak hours and non-peak hours are different for every audience, so it’s best if you use Facebook Insights to determine these times and schedule accordingly.
Upload videos or playlists.
Add links to your sermons, or share videos of volunteers telling about various ministries or other UMC videos. Use Facebook Live to stream your worship service or go beyond the worship service by recording a special event at your church or even special messages. Share a favorite worship song or construct a list of some of the most popular songs you sing in worship.
Help your audience connect more with your church body, its ministries and staff by seeing and hearing some of what takes place in your church on a regular basis.
Add an interactive component
Think about ways that you can engage your audience. Consider Bible trivia questions, seasonal ideas, or polls seeking readers’ opinions on various topics related to your ministry. Ask questions to help you get to know your audience and to help them get to know each other better. “What’s your favorite Bible verse and why?” or “What’s your favorite part of church service?” You can also provide links to interesting tidbits about the history of The United Methodist Church or your community.
United Methodist Communications has several fun trivia questions and quizzes that you can use as fodder for your own Facebook posts. Check out:
- United Methodist Schools Quiz
- United Methodist Church History Quiz
- Lent & Easter Quiz
- Advent & Christmas Quiz
Consider your language
From Facebook advertising campaigns to everyday posts, make certain that anything related to your church’s Facebook presence is appropriate and a clear reflection of your church’s mission and goals. In addition, if you want to reach potential visitors, you need to avoid super “churchy” words. Keep the “religious speak” to a minimum. Don’t ask newcomers to meet in the narthex or you may find stragglers wandering around.
Facebook’s evolution since 2004 has grown to encompass millions of users worldwide. There is no reason not to maximize its popularity for your church. But to keep Facebook fun and effective, it takes consistency and effort. Devote a little time to giving your Facebook page a facelift on a regular basis.