Facebook attracts 2.23 billion active monthly users. While you likely don’t have the seating capacity for all of them at your church, it’s clear that social media isn’t going away soon! Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at several different elements of a successful church Facebook page. In week one, we covered the basics of scheduling posts, making your life easier. In week two, we looked at data gathering and analytics, making your page more effective. In this third and final week, we’re discussing enhancing the experience of your average page visitor — the user experience.
Top the News Feed
So you’ve been successful in getting parishioners to “like” or “follow” your page. Are they seeing your posts? Maybe. Facebook uses a complex algorithm to determine which posts make it to a person’s news feed. With hundreds of friends and dozens of “liked” groups, there’s a lot competing for that space! Here’s an easy way to ensure that your church’s posts go straight to the top of their feed.
On any Facebook business or group page, the bar underneath the cover photo has a few options. Even if you’re following a page, you’ll notice that there are options for how updates show up in your news feed. “Default” leaves things up to the Facebook algorithm. Clicking “See First” will bring that group’s posts to the top of your news feed.
To get your parishioners looking at you first, create simple instructions for them. Take a screenshot of this option similar to the one on the right. Using your markup tools, circle the “See First” option. Create step-by-step directions (you can use the above as a baseline) and post it to your Facebook page, place it in your parish bulletin, or share it on your parish website.
Draw Attention to the Important Things
Do you have an important post you want visitors to see? Perhaps you’re advertising a special event, like a major fundraiser or religious education sign-ups. Maybe you want an inspiring message to be the first thing people see when they click on your church Facebook page. This is possible through “pinning” posts. This means that a particular post — regardless of when you created it — will show up at the top of the feed for your church Facebook page.
Find the post you’d like to appear at the top of your page. Click on the three little dots in the upper right corner to reveal your options. Select the first option “Pin to Top of Page.” It’s as simple as that! The post should now appear at the top of the feed with a little blue thumbtack icon. If you want to switch to a new post, follow the directions above to pin a new post. This automatically removes the original post from its primary position. If you want to unpin the post but not replace it, click the three dots again and select “Unpin from Top of Page.”
Handle Messages Promptly
Sometimes your church Facebook page is the easiest place for visitors or parishioners to contact you. Is someone assigned to check these messages outside of office hours? In most parishes, this isn’t the case. However, there’s an easy tip to help ensure that people feel heard, at least until someone can respond more directly. It’s possible to set up automated replies to messages within Facebook. Here’s how!
- Click “Settings” in the main menu bar for your page.
- Click “Messaging” in the sidebar (the second option after “General”).
- Once you land on the messaging page, you’ll see a section called “Response Assistant.” Scroll down or jump to the section.
Here you can create and activate automated responses. Keep the message simple and friendly. Here’s an example: “Thank you for your interest in St. Ignatius parish! Someone will respond to your message shortly. God bless!”
Organize Your Files
Do you have photos to share from the Lenten Living Stations or the Fall Festival? You can share and organize photos on your church Facebook page! The process is similar to a personal page. From your main page, find “Photos” in the sidebar. The first option in the top left will be “Create Album.” From there, you can upload photos and add captions as you see fit. This is an easy way to showcase the exciting events at your vibrant parish!
Facebook clearly has a lot of features, but it doesn’t need to be intimidating. With just a few simple tweaks, you can make your church Facebook page as engaging as you are!