a church’s guide to Facebook: part 1
The first of four articles looking at how a church can make good use of Facebook.
For every 7 minutes that are spent online, 1 of those minutes is spent on Facebook. That’s a pretty awesome statistic, particularly considering the numerous ways people use the internet and the vast array of websites in existence. It’s therefore not surprising that some Christians are excited to see how Facebook can be of benefit to their church. But then again, many others are at a different point on the spectrum; openly opposed, sceptical or simply confused.
Hopefully this series will be of some use to you – whatever your feelings – as you consider an appropriate way forward for your church. This first article is a very short introduction to Facebook. In part 2 we’ll take a step back from Facebook so we can think a bit about church communications in general, as well as the current ethos of the internet. Part 3 will then take you step-by-step through the process of setting up a Facebook Page for your church, giving guidance for the uninitiated as well as words of advice for those who are eager to get started straight away. Finally, Part 4 will give you some ideas for how you can use your Facebook Page.
But let’s begin with an important question:
What is Facebook?
Facebook is what’s known as a social networking website. Their mission is “to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected”. In essence it’s an online tool for keeping in contact with friends, family and acquaintances, allowing people to share information, images and videos with each other. Here are some statistics (up-to-date as of March 2013):
- Facebook began in 2004 as a website for Harvard College students, which then grew to include other educational establishments. The site was eventually opened to everyone over the age of 13 in September 2006.
- Facebook has 1.11 billion monthly active users – 665 million of which are active daily.
- The average user has 342 friends they’re connected to.
- Around half of people in the UK are registered on Facebook.
- Over half of Facebook users log on at least once a day.
- Facebook is available in more than 70 languages.
But the best way to know what Facebook is would be to actually use it. If you don’t already have a Facebook account then maybe that’s the best place for you to start.
Why should a church have a presence on Facebook?
That’s definitely a question you should be asking. Many churches don’t ask that question, and therefore default to one of two extremes…
1. those who adopt every new website and technology they can get their hands on
2. those who steer well clear of any new “fad”, particularly if it’s on the internet.
If the statistics above are correct, then a significant proportion of your church are probably registered on Facebook – as well as a significant number of those with whom you are trying to build relationships and share the gospel. As a church you want to be where people are, and you want to communicate with those people in ways that they understand and respond to. Facebook is a communication tool, and a fairly neutral one at that: it can be used for good or evil. However, when harnessed to its full potential, it can be a great free resource for building community and forwarding the mission of your church.
Have I got you interested yet? Then read Part 2…