What is Facebook?
Facebook is a community where people use their authentic identities. A personal profile is for non-commercial use and represents an individual person. The people in a church would have their own Facebook profiles which should reflect their lives closely; it is with these profiles that people interact with other people, pages and groups. In order to start a Facebook page or group you must have an identity as yourself.
Pages are for organisations to share their stories and connect with people. When you start a Facebook page for an organisation you are required to confirm that you are an approved representative of that organisation. You customize Pages by publishing stories, hosting events and starting conversations. People who like your Page and their friends get updates from your Page in their News Feed.
Pages are predominantly about sharing information although some will include discussions, reviews and chats. Facebook pages are used much like websites and should be kept current and encourage interaction and sharing of the posts onto individuals’ own timelines.
Groups are spaces where you can keep in touch with people by sharing updates, photos or documents. In order to create a group you become the administrator. Most groups will have at least two administrators and a number of other people who can ensure that the group is used appropriately and rules adhered to. This is not a difficult thing to achieve until the size or activity of the group grows large.
Groups are places for discussion and sharing, depending on the type of group. There are public, private, closed and secret groups. Open groups can be read by anyone but you must be accepted as a group member before you can post or comment; closed groups can not be read by anyone except the members, who have to be approved to join; secret groups are not shown in any lists or searchable systems and members have to be invited to join. It is important to choose which sort of group you might like; for example a prayer chain group would most likely be closed but a church chat group would be open.
Most churches will have several groups within their church, these might well be expected to be replicated on Facebook. Identifying the groups and their admins and keeping these supported is an important thing for church leaders to undertake.
What are the benefits of Facebook?
Facebook is a cross generational social media platform which appeals from teenagers through to the silver surfers in retirement. It is often used by families to keep in touch and share news and photographs. Facebook is used to share information both about personal lives and interests; for example people might share charity events they are involved in or campaigns they are supporting. Individuals will share articles of interest onto their timeline so that their friends can see them; in this way news can spread rapidly.
Facebook events are an excellent way to tell people about something which is going to happen. By creating an event for the community fun day and inviting all your contacts in that community you have immediately told them about the event. You can also share events into community groups or ask people to share events with their friends or invite their friends. This is free to use and extremely effective with those aged 30-60 who tend to be the most connected on Facebook.
Facebook discussions, debates and other chat are becoming increasingly popular and allow groups of people to share their interests and opinions as they might do in real life. Many churches find that discussions about sermons continue through the week and that prayer support can be requested and provided without the need for a central point. However this requires that administrators are active and watching out for any arguments or additional needs beyond that of Facebook.
Facebook has fostered networks and friendships across the world, taking on the role of discussion boards before it, enabling strong bonds to form. It is a fact of our current society that people do not necessarily live near to people they wish to socialise with and Facebook enables these relationships to continue and develop. Charities and Churches are able to receive and give support to members who are geographically displaced and this is an important aspect of an organisations’ life and mission.
How to get onto Facebook
If you don’t have a Facebook account, you can sign up for one in a few steps:
- Go to www.facebook.com.
- If you see the signup form, fill out your name, email address or phone number, password, birthday and gender. If you don’t see the form, click Sign Up, then fill out the form.
- Click Sign Up.
- Once you sign up, you’ll need to confirm your email address or phone number. They will send you either an email or a text message to help you confirm your account.
- Spend time connecting with people and pages and groups you know and learn as you go. Most people are more than happy to help new users find their way if you ask for help.
Online Mission: Would you like some training?
We are putting together a one day workshop to increase your confidence and use of social media. We are keeping the cost of as low as possible and expect it to be £25. This day will be entirely practical, allowing participants to learn from the experience of creating a video, uploading it to YouTube, Tweeting about it and sharing it on Facebook. Fill in the form below if you would like to be kept informed or have any questions about what the day.