Thursday, August 11, 2011

Facebook Basics: It's All About the News Feed

After Tuesday's chat, which focused on Facebook, I've been thinking about how I use it for ministry and want to share some basics and specifics.

First, Facebook is all about the news feed. These days, busy users mostly skim their news feeds and will only occasionally click through to individual pages. And so, if you want to show up in your friends/fans' news feeds, you'll need to post to yours fairly frequently.  

Second, Facebook, like all social media, is about sharing.  We church folks are sharing the good news. And so, we want our friends/fans to not only see our announcements about the church picnic or prayer of the day, but to repost or "like" or comment on them. When they do that, our stuff  appears in their news feeds and their friends see it, too.

It helps, then, to think about posting with an eye toward further sharing. Photographs, videos, links to interesting and timely articles, invitations to cool-looking events, and fun stuff are more likely to be shared.  

Think about posting whatever might be helpful, interesting, and yes, even entertaining to someone else. 

Variety is important -- a serious note here, a short video there, a quip or quote, photographs from parish events.  Post conversation starters and see what you get. (One of my most popular Facebook posts was about clerical detective novels!)

Facebook has also been also a wonderful tool for pastoral ministry. I check my feed whenever I'm online to see who among my flock is on vacation; who has reported an illness or loss; who got a new pet, who went quiet all of a sudden, who is having a birthday. And then, I interact with them. 

I "like" the new dog or vacation photos. I post birthday greetings. I send a private message to someone who has suffered a loss or gone quiet.  I follow up in person, too.  Facebook isn’t a substitute for face-to-face encounters but an additional and valuable aspect of my pastoral ministry.

How do you use Facebook in your ministry?


Meredith Gould said...

Hope readers take to heart & mind your counsel about the news feed.

In my experience, the average FB user does not set his/her privacy settings very high. As a result, everything tends to get broadcasted to everyone. God only knows what bit of information or comment will spark interest in a friend's friend or relative.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus!

kallman said...

The two of you never cease to amaze me with your timely and cool postings! Keep it up and thanks!

Penelopepiscopal said...

Thank YOU, kallman! We appreciate your taking time to leave us an encouraging word.