On a scale from 1-10, how much are you relying on Facebook for church communications?
If your answer was anything above 1, you’re playing a dangerous game…
Over the past month, Facebook has been in the hot seat regarding data and privacy of US citizens. (You can read more about it from Recode)
There are also more stories being told about conservative platforms being depreciated on Facebook. There’s no hard data to prove it, but we seem to see the same stories being told by different people.
Dave and Justin have a respectful disagreement with exactly what’s going on, and that’s why we’re doing a discussion episode like this.
Dave’s got one theory on what’s going on, and Justin has a different theory…and there’s nothing to back up either person’s viewpoint.
And that’s the problem…we don’t know what’s going on with Facebook or any other social media’s algorithms.
Facebook Is Not America
As Americans, we have freedoms protected by the Bill of Rights. We believe that we have unalienable rights given by God that the government can not overrule or take away.
But Facebook is not the government.
The US government cannot censor Dave and Justin, but Facebook can censor you on their platform if they want.
We are not paying to use Facebook for church communications. We agree to their terms to use it for free, and we play in their ballpark.
Justin actually got his first Facebook ad account banned for promoting a news story of a 70-year-old woman who lost 200 pounds.
It was a motivational story written to make you smile. There was no ill intent or even paid content in this article.
But since the news article featured an image of a before-and-after photo of the woman, Facebook banned the ad and the account for breaking the rule: no before-and-after photos in your sponsored posts.
So even though you may have the best intentions, Facebook has their own rules and policies you have to know and play inside of.
That said, Facebook does do a good job of prompting you to familiarize yourself with privacy settings and policy, so pay attention when you get those messages so you know what’s expected of you and your page.
Now, getting back to the “training” part of Church Training Academy…what does this have to do with you and using Facebook for your church?
The Three Types Of Traffic And Where Facebook Fits In
There are three ways you can get people to find out about your church:
- Traffic you own (your website, email list, podcast)
- Traffic you control (paid advertising)
- Traffic you don’t control (finding you on Google or word of mouth)
We preach this every month, you own your church website and email list. The content is yours. You may host it with someone else, but you choose what to do with your content.
Facebook and other social media platforms are not content you own. Facebook owns it. YouTube owns it. And they control who sees it. That’s why we spend so much time talking about “the algorithm.”
Facebook is something you don’t control. That’s why you can’t rely on it.
And that is the problem churches are having with Facebook. We treat it as something we own and then get a big red pouty face when Facebook makes a change that hurts our church communication plan.
You can’t rely on Facebook as your main church web presence, especially for free.
Who Defines Hate Speech?
Zuckerberg mentioned on capitol hill that they are developing AI to monitor hate speech on Facebook…but who defines what hate speech is?
One big problem the church faces is people equating hatred with disagreement.
So if your church says God’s plan is one man with one woman…someone may take that as hate speech.
And because of that, Facebook may penalize you for preaching the Gospel that way.
Now just to be clear, we’re not saying Facebook is hunting churches and conservative values.
But what we are saying is you don’t control Facebook or YouTube or Twitter, or any social media platform. Facebook and social media is not a right nor is it a platform you own.
Facebook is holding the basket, don’t put all your eggs into it. One day your basket may be let go.
How To Stay Bulletproof On Facebook?
Facebook is a technology most of America and many of the world are on (maybe less now).
People are congregating on Facebook. Jesus went to where people were, and people are on Facebook.
So go and have a presence on Facebook.
Just know that you don’t own it and you’re not holding the basket.
Don’t just put something on Facebook and hope everyone sees it. Use Facebook to promote your church, but point people to become part of traffic you own. Push traffic to your church website and email list.
There’s nothing more unprofessional than a Facebook page listed as your website. Anything could happen to a page. Facebook may someday block non-users from seeing pages, change the URL, or change how it looks.
Build your church’s presence on Facebook but also push the platforms you own. Point people to your church website and encourage them to sign up for your church email list.
We’re not saying leave Facebook. In fact, we preach the opposite…use every tool at your disposal to spread the Gospel and change lives.
What we are saying is that you should be aware that you do not own Facebook. And as evident in the big “algorithm apocalypse” earlier this year, we are slowly losing control over what Facebook does with our posts.
So be smart with how you use Facebook for church. Have a presence, but don’t rely on it. Rely on what you own, your website, email list, and podcast.
Do you agree or disagree? Let’s chat about it below!
We realize that many churches prefer to promote their Facebook over the website because it looks better. So we created a guide to get your website back on the right path to compel new visitors…and it’s easier than trying to beat the Facebook Algorithm.