When evaluating web and social media solutions, the best place to start is with the question, “What is
your desired outcome”? It can be tempting to jump on the bandwagon of the next big thing or stick to what we already know, but it is important to first identify your goals and pick a platform or technology
that will get you there. Otherwise, you may find yourself fitting a square peg into a round hole and your outreach attempts may be less effective than they could be.
For example, Facebook is one of the most popular platforms across generations today. Most churches recognize that Facebook is a useful tool for evangelism, content discovery, and communication. But even Facebook offers different ways for organizations to communicate.
The Facebook group is designed specifically for internal communication, while the fan page is designed with external communication — evangelism — in mind.
Both of the tools can be a great resource to any parish, but they have different features
A group is useful for internal communication and can be a great tool for a parish council or committee in a church to collaborate and share information outside of regular meetings. A group can provide a shared history of discussions and notes for new members, and can allow people to connect who may otherwise have
difficulty meeting outside of Sunday mornings. But Facebook groups do not reach outward as only members can get updates and they can require active monitoring to keep up on a given discussion.
Fan pages, on the other hand, behave much like personal accounts. People need only “like” the page to join and they will see updates in their Facebook news feed. Friends of friends are also able to see these posts when someone comments or interacts with a post. Instead of reaching only the members of
a small group, fan page posts can reach exponentially more people than a group.
Fan pages also offer two very distinct evangelistic properties for any church wanting to reach
out with the Gospel message: analytics and advertisement.
Once a fan page reaches 30 likes, analytics are available to the fan page owner. Churches can see who is interacting with their posts and what content has the best and most favourable reach and can make decisions about how to tailor their message for maximum effect.
I can’t stress the importance of analytics enough. Knowing the demographics of your audience allows you to tailor your message to either have a greater impact on your current readership or shift focus to engage with a different target audience.
Advertisements are also available through fan pages. By creating an ad to promote a post or event, you can target a particular city or postal code with upcoming events or Christmas or Easter worship
schedules. Or you can get even more specific with demographic targeting, such as letting young families know about your upcoming Messy Church event.
A small budget of $6 to $10 can have a profound effect on reaching seekers, especially in the holy seasons of Christmas and Easter, and help grow your congregation.
Facebook is only one example of all the platforms available, and fan pages vs. groups is but
one decision to make. But starting with the answer to “What is your desired outcome?” will lead your community to finding the most effective tools to achieve their goals.