Facebook is not a fad. Social media and social networking are here to stay. Since Facebook went public in September 2006, it has become the major platform for social connections on the Internet in the United States and around the world. Today Facebook has more than 800 million active users, and more than 50% of them log into Facebook on any given day. Facebook users stay connected through their computers, smartphones and tablets. When making purchasing decisions, or decisions on joining or visiting a church, many people will rely on advice they get from Facebook friends. Church-shoppers, research shows, will visit websites before they’ll look at a telephone book or newspaper ad, but more and more, they are interested not only in information but interaction before they even attempt a visit.
While the first users of Facebook were college students (nearly 1 million of them by December of 2004), the numbers of people over the age 55 are increasing by leaps and bounds. Many older adults are finding that Facebook is a great way to stay in touch with children and grandchildren and friends across the street and around the world. Because Facebook is FREE, it’s a great tool for the church to use in building community, evangelism, mission, networking and sharing information about activities of the congregation.
Will a FB page bring people to your church? Not likely … at least no more likely than a webpage or phone book ad will bring visitors. Not having a Facebook presence, though, will definitely NOT bring people to church. And, if your congregation is intentional in how it uses this and other social media for building relationships, it will enhance the ministry and mission or your church.
During the next couple of months, the Presbytery of New Brunswick will be promoting “A Presbyterian Christmas” … a print and social media campaign to invite people to visit a Presbyterian congregation on Christmas Eve. One of the components of the campaign is to direct visitors to the Facebook page which will, among other things, connect them to a PC(USA) congregation near them. The Evangelism and Church Development committee will be encouraging congregations to participate in a number of ways, including creating a page on Facebook.
I am putting together a packet of information on using Facebook as a congregation. Topics include:
- Why Your Church Needs to be on Facebook
- Pages, Profiles and Groups … Oh My!
- How to Create a Facebook Page for your Church
- Building Your Church’s Facebook Page
- Facebook Glossary and Terminology
- It’s Not about “Marketing,” It’s about “Relationship”
- Building Community and Christian Witness Online
If you have something to add to this, or questions you think should be included, please let me know. If your congregation is already using Facebook and you have something to share about that experience, please leave a comment. I will be sharing some of these topics in upcoming posts on this blog as well.