With thousands of “gurus” online telling you how to beat the algorithm, Facebook can seem as complex and confusing as filing U.S. taxes.
In today’s show, we sit down with an actual employee of Facebook to set the record straight on how you should use Facebook for your church.
About Our Guest: Nona Jones
Nona Jones leads Faith-Based Partnerships for Facebook, the world’s leading social networking and social media company. In her role, Nona is responsible for helping develop and drive the product strategy undergirding Facebook’s mission of giving its 2 billion members the power to build community and bring the world closer together.
She has been profiled by ESSENCE Magazine as an “Under 40 Woman to Watch” and Florida Trend Magazine as one of Florida’s “30-Something All Stars.” A sought-after public-speaker, she has delivered keynote addresses for the United Nations and Attorney General Loretta Lynch. In addition to Nona’s professional and civic work, she and her husband, Pastor Timothy L. Jones, Sr., lead Open Door Ministries in Gainesville, Florida. You can follow Nona on Facebook and Instagram.
When Nona agreed to answer our questions, we saw the opportunity to learn about Facebook “from the horse’s mouth.”
So for this episode, we wanted to ask Nona the top 3 questions we consistently hear when it comes to using Facebook for your church ministry.
Let’s dig in.
How can churches best use Facebook to stay connected with their congregations and community?
One challenge in the church ministry is losing sight of the bigger, broader mission of making disciples of all nations.
We focus on growing attendance in a building on the weekend… but that’s not the entirety of the mission of the church.
- 65% of churches are in decline or have plateaued in their attendance
- 40% of Americans will say they’re in church on any given Sunday, but actually, it’s around 20%
- Every month on Google, there are at least 30,000 searches using the keyword, “church online”
The great commission is about being intentional and proactive. And that’s where Facebook comes in…
Facebook allows churches to think differently about how to do ministry in the 21st century. And the best part is that most people are already on Facebook, so you don’t have to fight the adoption of new technology like you might with an app.
With so many people on Facebook, the best way to use it is to just be on there. Have a presence.
And with the different ways you can use Facebook for your church, let’s dive into the differences and how to best use many of their features.
What is the difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group?
The difference between a Facebook Page and a Facebook Group can be like the difference between the outside and inside of your house.
Your page is like your front porch. You can take people around and let them see your house from the outside.
But a Facebook Group is like your living room. It’s where you spend the time to connect with your family and guests.
So your Facebook Page has a use and is important (like curb appeal), but start shifting focus to using Facebook Groups to really start connecting with people.
Facebook Groups can connect your congregation and community and use be a place to have faithful discussions.
Another way to think about it is like your Facebook Page as a digital bulletin board. That’s where people come to find out the latest happening of the church and understand who you are.
And your Facebook Group is more like a small group with chairs all facing each other. Everyone can see all posts equally and there are more tools to encourage conversations like the poll option.
You can also use Facebook Live inside your group and lower the wall between leaders and congregation. The best part of Facebook Live is it’s not formal. No fancy dress, backdrop, or equipment. Just go live and pray, share, or speak.
So both platforms are important, and neither should be abandoned. But they are used differently. Make your first impression with your page, but use your Facebook Group to create connections and bonds with others.
How can a church best serve content that gets engagement and shares?
We get it, we can speak on the greatness of Facebook Groups all day. But for many churches, they want more engagement…people liking, commenting, and sharing.
First, don’t bait people in your posts. Don’t flat out ask, “comment below!” That doesn’t fly anymore.
Instead, ask relevant questions…
- Have you experienced this in life?
- What’s your favorite _______?
- What are you listening to right now?
People will share what’s relevant to them. Use that as the frame. Don’t spam your page with events and services. Inspire your audience.
And research shows that people connect with people. Showing people in an active environment will always inspire responses. So post about your people and share your church culture on Facebook. Use the narrative of the people to draw people into the “why.”
Facebook insights will let you know everything you need to know about your audience and what they want to see. Find out what time they are online, what kind of content inspires them, and what they are engaging with.
What works for one church may not work for another. Just like you strive to not be a cookie-cutter church, don’t treat your Facebook presence the same way.
Don’t try to game the system, focus on serving your audience.
BONUS: Should we be worried about being shut-down because of our message?
Nona was hired because she’s in ministry. Facebook is fully committed to communities of faith, and they want to treat content fairly across the board.
Nona understands this concern but wants you to know that Facebook is doing its best to treat all content fairly and meet the needs of its users.
The key to using any tool is to understand what it’s for. You don’t hammer with a screwdriver. And you don’t use Facebook to blast announcements (kinda like you don’t throw flyers at your church guests).
Start by focusing on building a Facebook Group presence. You’ll be able to foster relationships and, dare we say, experience community digitally. And Facebook Groups give you the tools to stay at the forefront of people’s minds, creating a better environment to spark conversation.
Focus on what your followers want to hear. Don’t just post whatever you feel like. Listen to their wants/needs and dive into the data to discover what kind of content suits them best.
After you start using Facebook as it’s meant to be used, you’ll find that it can be one of your most valuable tools.
Have you started your Facebook group? How’s it going? Leave a comment below!
Facebook is an amazing tool for your church, but remember that you don’t own it… but you do own your website.
When you feel like your website isn’t doing anything for you, check out our free guide, 7 Church Website Essentials and turn your website into a visitor-generating machine!