What Facebook’s Change Means for Churches

I learned how to do marketing with myspace.
This was way before timelines, newsfeed ads, and rumors of Russian meddling. As a fourteen-year-old with a blog, I had managed to build a following of just over 10,000 without any of the modern marketing tools we use in the facebook era. By no means was there a perfect science to this, but it was fun. Plus, this is how I learned the basics of online marketing and communications.

Facebook just dropped a bombshell when they announced, “the future is private” and that means they’re making some major changes to their platform. Let me give you the highlights of their announcement:
1. Facebook is switching it’s core focus to events and groups.
2. They are putting a huge emphasis on their chat feature (ultimately merging with IG chat and WhatsApp).
3. The newsfeed will eventually die.
4. Facebook is launching a dating site. (Probably doesn’t affect churches, but I thought it was interesting.)

All of this has some major repercussions for churches. While I honestly think this is good news, as it’s pushing us to be more personal on our platforms, there will certainly be some changes that we need to make in the coming months. There is a lot of uncertainty at the moment, especially how churches can leverage messenger for business. However. knowledge is power, right? So let’s start with what we know.

Groups Aren’t Going Anywhere — Use Them Well

Create Facebook groups within your church and use them to cultivate community outside of your walls. Don’t start out with the goal to create a new community, simply create a digital space that’s an extension of your current community. Growth will come as a product of that. This needs to go far beyond a mere marketing tool though! Do not treat this like you would a public page. Rather, use these platforms to provide value to your people and create community. Make them for your specific ministries, get involved in community groups, and study best practices on the groups you use consistently.

Don’t Cry, Diversify
Unfortunately, you cannot depend solely on organic reach on your Facebook page. Just like in the market, you want to diversify — not stocks, but social networks. Get active on youtube outside of just hosting videos. Improve your instagram story game. Blog like you’ve never blogged before. Change how you use facebook.

Traditional Marketing Is Not Dead
People still predominantly visit churches through word of mouth. Find creative ways to turn your audience into ambassadors. People were able to grow companies and churches before Facebook, so consider taking a page from the old playbook. Print is not dead. Email is not dead (yet). Strive to pair your newest social strategies with timeless & traditional ones.

What are some changes you are trying to make in reaction to Facebook’s announcement?