Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Dear churches (a plea for better Facebook pages)

Dear churches,

I spend a good portion of my time on Facebook.  Partially for my job and (embarrassingly) I waste too much personal time on it.

But some of the time I spend on Facebook, I spend perusing your church Facebook page.  That's right.  I'm a church creeper.

I like to Facebook church creep for a couple of reasons:

  • Many of the things we do as a church, I steal borrow from what other churches are doing.  Some of you have awesome ideas - so I like to find those and see if they can work in our context.
  • I want to know what your church is like.  
  • I'm just generally nosy.
But often, I am disappointed by your church Facebook page.  Listen: I am no expert.  90% of what I've learned I've learned from trial & error.  But I'm going to put my advice out there for you anyway.

Here's why I am disappointed.  I look at your Facebook page and have no idea what your church is like.  Sure you post some sermon slides, your logo might be there, and even a picture or two of your building.  If I look hard enough, I might find a picture of your church organist, or the woman who serves coffee.  Which really, is sweet.  But as a 20-something who is (probably selfishly) looking for flash and excitement, you haven't yet convinced me that I should visit your church.

I over post pictures on our church Facebook page.  We try to take and post photos every week.  Yes, it is overkill.  But it has some benefits:
  • Tagging! If you are in a picture on our church's Facebook page, and I am FB friends with you, I'm probably going to tag you in it.  Yes, you may hate that picture of you - but I do it because when I tag you in a photo, that means that that photo instantly shows up in more people's newsfeeds.  Tagged photos also get better engagement which boosts how many people Facebook shows my posts too - it's a win-win for the church!
  • It makes you feel like you missed out.  We all know those people, the ones who come to church every second or third week (maybe wrongly, some of us even wish we were those people).  Well, when I post a picture of something fun the kids are doing, or some awesome activity we did upstairs, the hope is that for one second, maybe someone who missed this past week thinks 'Dang, I should have been there'.  And that's crucial.
  • You know what you are getting into.  Maybe you are really outgoing.  I'm not.  I don't like going to new places by myself, and I especially don't like going there if I don't know what to expect.  Sure, you write cute paragraphs on your church website that tell me I'm going to find a group of welcoming people - but I bet Westboro Baptist probably has that on their website too (never mind -I looked, they don't)   And also - how old are the people going to be there?  Will I find people my age?  Are there cool things my kids will be doing or will they be bored?  How busy is it?  Are there 5 people there or 100?  Sure, you say I don't need to wear a suit - but will everyone else be wearing one?  These are all questions that run through my mind before I visit a church.  Every one of them can be answered by some real pictures.
But, don't let them just be any pictures!  Later this week, I'll talk about some tips of capturing some appealing shots of your church!

What do you think?  Does your church have a Facebook page?  If you were going to visit a church would you check their Facebook page first?  Are you a church Facebook page creeper too?