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You have your Facebook page created, and all ready to go. Awesome!
So, now… what do you post?
The thing about “social media” is that… it’s not new. The technology is, but the rest of it? We’ve been doing it for ages.
When the printing press came along, it was a faster, more efficient, and more effective way to get letters, sermons, edicts, and whathaveyou distributed to people. But it wasn’t new. People had been writing letters, sermons, edicts, and whathaveyous way before Guttenberg showed up.
Same with your Facebook page. You are already creating content, weekly, that wants to go on your page.
Now, the obvious answer to “what do you already create every week” is “a sermon.” And we’ll talk about that in a bit.
But first… Facebook Pages are primarily for broadcasting and sharing information. Sound like anything else you might do, on a monthly or weekly basis?
Newsletters and bulletins
If you’re like any church I’ve ever heard of, you probably have a monthly newsletter you send to all members (probably by snail mail), and then have print copies available in the narthex for anyone else to pick up. Why do you do this?
Because that newsletter has IMPORTANT INFORMATION you want OTHER PEOPLE TO KNOW ABOUT. Right?
So post that information on your Facebook page!
You probably also have a bulletin you create every week, with other announcements, maybe the schedule of events for the week (when which ministry group meets, food pantry reminders, youth group events, and so on). Also good information you want people to have, because people want to know about this stuff.
So post that on your Facebook page, too!
If you go look at your newsletter and bulletin, you probably have lots of stuff (which we communications people like to call “content”) ready to be shared!
All you have to do, as you are creating that newsletter or typing up that bulletin, is to remember to copy that text (Control+C will work in pretty much any and every program you’re using) and then paste it into a Facebook page post (Control+V).
I would encourage you to create a separate post for each newsletter article or announcement, and space them out using Facebook’s handy-dandy scheduling feature: instead of hitting the blue “Publish” button, click on the little triangle/arrow to the right of that button, and you will see a drop-down menu with the option to “Schedule,” “Back Date,” or “Save Draft.” (I don’t know exactly what the purpose of the “Back Date” button is… why would you want to post something as if you had posted it yesterday? So we’ll ignore that one for now.)
You can either schedule the posts as you copy/paste them (clicking on the “Schedule” button and entering the date and time), or just copy/paste the text for each announcement or bulletin, and save each as a draft, to schedule later (or to let someone else schedule, if the person who helps with the newsletter and bulletin is not the same person managing the Facebook page, or if you have a volunteer helping with Facebook).
Do you have a photo to go with that newsletter article? You can attach it to the post! Have lots of photos? You can attach lots of photos!
Yes, posting to the Facebook page does create an additional task… but is it really that much work?
And you will now be reaching so many more people! That newsletter article about the youth car wash to raise funds for the food pantry? Proud parents of the youth in those photos will share that post with their friends (and family, and coworkers). One thing Facebook has taught me is that people are connected in the weirdest ways… people you had no idea could know each other, do.
So when Jennifer, Angie’s mom and a member of your congregation in Texas, shares that post of her daughter Angie stacking cans for the food pantry, and then Jennifer’s sister/Angie’s aunt Evelyn shares the post in North Dakota, Evelyn’s former coworker Brandon, who got transferred to Milwaukee, will see the post and notice that it’s from Smalltownville, Texas, where his mom is living. He’ll comment on Evelyn’s post, because he knows all about Angie from Evelyn proudly bragging about her awesome niece, and then Brandon’s mom will see the conversation and guess what! It turns out Brandon’s mom knows Angie because Jennifer and Brandon’s mom work out at the same YMCA—they’ve just never talked about faith or church before because those are such loaded topics—and Brandon’s mom has been wanting to become involved in the community and she loves the idea of helping a local food pantry. (Also, Evelyn looked up your congregation’s mailing address on your Facebook page and sent you a donation for the food pantry, because she likes to support Angie.)
(Seriously. This happens.) (Maybe not on every post, but it happens.)
This one is a little tricky, because of privacy concerns. You don’t want to share personal information on a Facebook page, because that is public and can be viewed by anyone online, but that doesn’t mean you can’t post prayer requests.
Some people will be fine with a request being posted online using only their first name and giving a general request: “health concerns” or “recovering from surgery” without giving details. You know your congregation and you know your members; discern wisely.
But even if you can’t post prayer requests publicly on the page, that doesn’t mean you can’t ever post about prayer!
For personal parishioner prayer requests, I would suggest you use a Facebook group, where the information is (at least a little) less public. Then you can use the congregation’s page to direct people to the group (your closed group, so that only members can see the information posted there) to lift up those needing prayer.
When natural disasters or other tragedies happen, locally or globally, post a prayer on your page. We all need words of hope and comfort in those times.
And then there’s the Main Event: your sermon.
You work on it, every week, for pretty much all week. You put TONS of thought and effort into this.
You spend all week writing and stressing about your sermon, and then you only share it once, maybe twice?
Post that sermon online! If your congregation doesn’t have a website, get a free blog (may I suggest WordPress?) and post your sermons on there each Monday morning. Then share the link on the congregation’s Facebook page!
You have members who didn’t make it to church that Sunday. You have members who made it to church, but they were distracted by a fussy baby (their own) and were too worried that people were looking at them, judging them for bringing a baby to church (nobody was, but parents are conditioned to feel guilty anyway), so they were only listening to you with half an ear because the other one-and-a-half ears were focused on “Is the baby making as much noise as I think they are? Should I take them outside? Are people looking at me?” and would really like to get a chance to actually find out what your sermon was about.
You have people who moved to the area recently and are looking for a church home, but they want to know what kind of church you are. When you say, “All are welcome,” who is included in that “all” (and who isn’t)? Some people like “traditional” services. They want the solemnity, and the pomp and circumstance. Some people want a more relaxed, playful atmosphere. The tone and voice of your sermons will help people get a feel for the congregation (as well as your theology), and help them decide if they want to take the next step of visiting in person.
But of course! There are merely examples of content you are already creating. Here are some ideas of other small things you can do, that don’t take up much time but will give you great content.
What do you post on your congregation’s Facebook page?