Facebook is the internet's most widely used social network, with more than 2.9 billion active monthly users worldwide and over 30 million daily users in the UK.
More than 750 Church of Scotland congregations are already using Facebook to connect with their members and their local communities. Whether you are one of these churches and wish to improve your online presence, or you are just beginning your Facebook journey, we hope these hints and tips will help you make the most of this useful platform.
What kind of account does your Church need?
Facebook offers three options: a profile, a page, or a group. A profile represents a single individual and is for non-commercial use. A page is a timeline for organisations and businesses. Groups are effective in connecting family, peers, colleagues or people with a shared interest.
We recommend you create a Facebook page. A page will enable people to find you and explore the life of your church. This page can be used to advertise events and to share prayers, images, videos, thoughts and quotes.
Note: You must already have a personal Facebook account that you can use to create a page. You will then become the admin of the page. You should then assign other people as admins and editors (Facebook has a guide on how to do that). You can remove yourself as an admin for the page later if you no longer wish your profile to be attached to the church page.
Here are some tips for creating an effective Facebook page:
Remember the basics
Fill in the required information in the About section. This includes the church's address, phone number, website, email address, other social media accounts, a short biography, office opening hours, a contact person and any other important information.
Images tell a story
Your cover photo is the large image at the top of your profile. This lets you feature a unique image that represents who you are. You want to use a good quality photo. An image of your church outside or inside is always good. Make sure to follow current image size guidelines (820 by 310 pixels) to get the best results. Anything less and the photo will be stretched or distorted.
Your profile photo is the smaller image on the left side of your profile. Use a good quality profile photo. We recommend using an image which represents your church or the Church of Scotland logo (which can be found on our visual identity page). This photo will appear whenever you interact with other people on Facebook and when people search for your church. The current image size for a profile photo is 180 by 180 pixels.
Choose a username
Facebook allows you to choose a unique username (i.e. Church of Scotland) and URL (i.e. www.facebook.com/churchofscotland). Make sure you choose something that will make sense to your congregation and the general public. Take a look at the usernames and URLs of other congregations to get some ideas.
Build your Facebook community
- Post daily (or at least frequently)
- All content from the Church of Scotland website and Facebook is ready-made for local churches to share
- Share photos of your church events (remember to get permission if you are using other people's images)
- Highlight examples of the good work your church is doing
- Use shareable/engaging content – inspiring quotes, meaningful scripture and compelling thought-pieces. For example, the Church of Scotland posts a daily prayer on Facebook that is available for all to share. One of our most popular prayers reached more than 55,700 people, was shared by 783 people and liked by 515 people.
- Create a Facebook ‘event' for each of your church's events. Facebook asks you for the basic information for your event; the name of the event, location, time, details of the event, and keywords. Don't forget to add an event photo - the image size should be 1920 by 1080 pixels. Be sure to give plenty of notice ahead of time.
- Use Facebook live to share short videos of events or an uplifting thought for the day
- Post your weekly Sunday sermon
- Perhaps you have something to say on an issue that's topical in the news? It could be how you are helping to tackle loneliness, child poverty or supporting refugees.
- Ask questions – spur a conversation about a topic with an open-ended question
- Interact with the people who comment on your posts
- Share relevant posts from other pages. It could be a news story from Church of Scotland or the Moderator, or a Lent reflection from Christian Aid. Follow other organisations and share any relevant posts of theirs.
- Facebook will only show your posts to a small percentage of your page followers. However, the more people like and share your post, the more people will see it in their news feeds.
If you post something and find you have made a mistake such as a spelling error, you can select the three small dots at the top right of your post and then click edit. You will then be able to correct the text.
You can also delete posts using the three small dots. Do not delete a post if it has been seen and shared as it will cause confusion when people wonder what happened to the post.
Evaluating your results
Once your page is underway you can begin to evaluate your results. Select the Insights tab on the top of your Facebook page to find out how many people are viewing your posts (reach) and which posts are attracting likes shares and comments.
Likes and shares are the best indicators of how relevant your content is to your audience. You will also be able to see what time of day your Facebook fans are online in the posts section of Insights. Use this to your advantage and post at peak times to get the greatest amount of engagement.
We have found that posting in the morning and around 7:30pm in the evening secures the most engagement for Church of Scotland posts, but you can experiment to find out what works best for your church community.
Remember to think about key church dates, such as Lent, Easter, and Christmas, and plan in advance for content you can share around these important times.
You will want to understand what your audience loves about your church. Photos and videos usually get 10 times more engagements than a post containing only text. If you choose to create a post with only text, make sure to keep your message short and concise.
Lastly, try to avoid posting and sharing content all at the same time. Use the Facebook post scheduling system to space out your posts. Choosing specific times of day can give your audience a much higher chance of seeing and engaging with your content.
Scheduling a post is relatively straightforward. Post like you normally would, but instead of selecting publish, you select the downward arrow next to it and set the time and date for when you wish to schedule your post.