Unless you ran a marathon in Antarctica last week, you have noticed the changes in Facebook. While the uproar mostly consists of individual users, the changes in content management mean churches and ministries will need to reexamine how they use Facebook in light of the new controls and settings.
How to do that? David Berkowitz, senior director of emerging media and innovation for 360i, says Facebook will now be about branding actions. “Before on Facebook it was about getting people to ‘Like’ the brand,” he says. “Now, it’s about getting people to take social actions enabled by that brand.” For example, if a consumer posts an update about a run they just took, that’s a prime opportunity for Nike. “If your run is powered by Nike, you might still wear Adidas,” says Berkowitz, “but Adidas will have to find something else that’s social about its brand to become part of your story.”
The new custom settings allow Facebook to gradually filter out content the user appears to not engage in. If people that "like" your ministry on Facebook tend to not engage, eventually that means they will not be seeing your updates in their feed. Content is King. What we produce and share on Facebook as ministries must viably offer something to the general public that provides a worthwhile meaning in their life.
Here are two broad ways that help us put perspective in our use of social media in the Church;
1. Having Transforming Content...not random information
What we offer people needs to matter. Yes, updates about events and schedules will still be part of Facebook. But we also need to offer an environment wear people can see the gospel truth of change. We tell stories through Facebook, we share our lives together and we provide the necessary tools for people to have this new life through Jesus. The directionality of our presentation changes, but the basic truth of Jesus doesn't. Get out of the mentality that Facebook is the 21st century Church Bulletin and into the reality of it being the prophetic voice of salvation.
2. Having Deliberate Christian Community...not generic friends
It is real easy to just collect followers on Facebook. Facebook makes it handy to have a huge list of folks to message or present your latest video/sermon or bible study series too. Yes, the content we are sharing might be truly transformative. The additional part of this is making sure we see these are folks that we truly care about. Our content should be causing folks to encounter real life together in the actual world. The people that choose to engage with our ministries on Facebook are worthy of the same care and attention of those who spend time in our worship services during the week.
If we want for social media to be a viable way we reach people, it is necessary to follow the way Facebook chooses to distribute updates. When using social media, intentionality is key. Make sure your content is easy to digest and engage. Sculpt what you create to fit the way people are using and retaining information. Most of all, have fun with it!