Several weeks ago, my church’s Facebook page was deactivated. No one knows why. Last week, a church from where I used to live lost their Facebook page and I remember seeing messages about people lamenting that videos of funerals were lost, and other content.
Does your church have all its eggs in the Facebook basket?
Does your church livestream worship from Facebook, or focus all your social media energy on Facebook?
Facebook is an amazing tool for connecting with people and getting your message out there. Facebook can help you create groups, classes, “rooms,” video chats, pages, and more. Facebook will let you (for a fee, of course!) promote your events and messaging across a geographic or demographic area.
In other words: when it works, it’s great.
But what happens when somehow you upset the algorithm and end up getting something deleted?
The above example is kind of funny. But what’s not funny is when your church’s Facebook page gets deactivated. In the middle of a stewardship campaign.
We were left wondering… what do we do now?
Sure, you can appeal the process, but who knows how long that will take. As of this blog post, it’s about a month out since we started the initial appeal process.
Instead, if your page gets deactivated, take a look at what assets you were using Facebook to share, and consider diversifying your social media strategy.
Just like with investing, it’s never a good idea to have ALL your content in one platform, in case something like this goes wrong.
Were you streaming worship? Was it for event invitations? Was it to celebrate birthdays and anniversaries, or something completely different?
Here are a few resources that you can use to keep your content (go with your strengths, remember?) but pivot where they exist:
First and foremost, if you are streaming your worship on Facebook, it is just as easy to stream to YouTube. Here’s a guide posted by YouTube on how to get this process started. I highly recommend you make this shift to avoid losing worship footage if your page is deactivated.
The bonus about streaming on YouTube is that the worship service can be labelled, archived, and sorted for easier use. The second bonus about streaming on YouTube is that people who aren’t connected specifically to your Facebook page can find it.
That’s because YouTube is more than just a video platform. It’s the foremost search engine (besides Google) for all things content. I’ve been learning so much about the power of YouTube from my church’s social media manager Martina DiRose – she’s really pushing us to pivot and lean into YouTube, and I definitely agree.
Don’t worry. You can always put the link to worship on your personal Facebook page so that others can share it (if most of your folks are on Facebook). But people can “subscribe” to the channel you create for your church, so they’re notified when new content is posted. So you don’t have to rely on Facebook as much.
And streaming worship from YouTube is only the beginning of what’s possible. Imagine someone is looking for 20 minutes of meditative music to play – what if they stumbled upon a compilation you’ve created of 20 minutes of organ music (something we’re talking about doing for my church, to be honest). If you or someone you know has video editing skills, you can grab footage from different videos to create a musical (or other kind of) compilations to post on YouTube.
Mailerlite – Mass Email Software
If there’s one thing we’ve struggled with at my church, that never seems to go away… it’s the church newsletter. Each month (although we get lucky in the summer with some combined issues) we write up articles (aka reports) about what’s happening at the church and mail them to members across the country.
But newsletters are needed. They generally speak to larger givers, and older generations of attendees. Honestly, I even like paging through our church newsletter, as frustrating as it is to pull together each month. There is something to be said to have paper in your hands.
Things are changing quickly though, which is where some churches move to Facebook for quick announcements. Which isn’t a bad thing to do, but I’d advise not having Facebook be your only option. For instance, sometimes you need to share more information than can be put in a small space (like a FB meme or picture). Sometimes, you don’t want things to be as “sharable” as they would be on a public page, because they’re internal church information.
This is where a simple, free email software can help. I’ve heard lots of people using Mail Chimp because it’s free, but I prefer software called Mailerlite. There are more options within Mailerlite within the free version (up to 1000 subscribers and 12,000 emails per month, works for us!) and more integrations if you decide to start putting popups on your website to gather email addresses.
With things like a weekly email, we put in Amazon Smile links for upcoming book study resources and have more than doubled our Amazon Smile income over the past two quarters. These are things that don’t translate as well on Facebook due to formatting. Do you have any other monetization ideas that could be put in an email format? If you need some ideas, feel free to contact me!
Our church started weekly emails towards the beginning of the pandemic (see a sample email), and 122 emails later we haven’t stopped yet. People now ask to put things in the weekly email, and it makes us look polished and professional when it goes out each week. Plus, it doesn’t take too long to pull together – it is something an Administrative Assistant (or Virtual Assistant) could be trained to take care of based on shared calendars, for example.
Our weekly email has saved us since the Facebook page was deactivated, and I’m grateful we had it in place before things went down. I recommend looking into them, and considering Mailerlite as an option.
Church websites are the new front doors of churches. People look at church websites to get a feel for their theology, their programming and their vibrancy.
An old, outdated website can make visitors feel one of two ways:
- If they actually decide to visit after seeing your old website (likely filled with pictures of the “good old days” filled with children), they might feel slighted or manipulated if that’s not what they find in the church.
- Most times, visitors are far less likely to visit a church with an outdated website – it makes the congregation look antiquated and lifeless.
A bad website is worse than no website (although not by much) because at least with no website, no expectations are built up before someone comes to visit.
Is it time to redo your church’s website, or start one from scratch? They’re not as hard to build as they used to be – there are tons of drag-and-drop options available to build something simple.
You don’t need 15 pages of content to grab peoples’ attention. You just need several well-made, well-articulated pages to jump out and grab peoples’ attention and highlight what you do well (there’s that asset-based stuff again! Almost like I wrote a book about it last year…!)
Your website can be a great place to share information, if you teach members to look at the website for updates. Plus, it’s a great place to hold resources that can be readily accessed, so that Facebook doesn’t have to be the only repository of assets.
For instance, our church posts each week’s bulletin on our website for folks who are worshipping via YouTube with us. Or if people aren’t comfortable touching the bulletins we have in the sanctuary, they can still pull it up on their phones.
And church websites don’t cost a lot of money. Siteground (affiliate link below) is what I recommend to use for hosting, and then using WordPress to actually design the site. But lots of people like Wix and similar builders and have lots of luck with them.
If you decide you want something more substantial than just a website, Subsplash offers a website and an app. We’re trying that at my church for the next year – the push notifications through the app have proved invaluable when it comes to communication. Want to see how it works? Download the Central UMC Endicott app in any app store.
Once again, I am not telling anyone to stop using Facebook as a means of communication and community building. In fact, I highly recommend the book From Social Media to Social Ministry by Nona Jones, which talks more about leveraging Facebook and other social media for community building within the church context.
But what I am telling you is that church Facebook pages do get shut down from time to time. There’s no magic reason I can cite, but I do know that it can cripple your growth (or your stewardship season!) if it goes down and you don’t have any other options.
What other resources do you use, or would you like to learn about? Discord is becoming popular as an option, as well as other social media outlets. Try to keep it simple to start – but the opportunities are endless!
Need help navigating any of these resources? Looking for someone to make your website and teach you how to update? Looking for ideas on how to monetize these platforms? Contact me and I’ll connect you with more information and resources.