Facebook has become the most popular social networking website on the Internet. Millions of people have a profile and most people have lots of friends. Their friends may range from family members, to people they work with, to friends from college or high school. Most of your church’s members who are on Facebook have friends who are not church members. So, how can this help you in your church marketing strategy?
The Power of a Network:
One of the best features on Facebook and probably the reason Facebook has done so well, is the News Feed feature. The way the News Feed works is that whenever a person does something on their profile, whether it’s posting pictures, saying what they are doing, or one of their friends writing on their wall, a news story is created and added to the profile’s News Feed. That story is then not only posted on that person’s profile, but it is also distributed to all of their friends. So, if you post a picture to your profile, all of your friends are instantly made aware of that. That could be tens or hundreds of people…even thousands of people (if you’re really popular). If your friends post something about the photos, then their friends are made aware of the photos. You can see how word can spread very quickly to a lot of people.
Stealth Church Marketing and Evangelism:
I’m sure by now every reader of the Church Marketing Online blog has created a Facebook Page for their church ;). And, of course, once you created your Facebook Page, you announced it at church and every one of your members who have a Facebook profile went home and immediately became a “fan” of the church. Members who weren’t on Facebook went home and created a profile so they could become a fan. Well, when each one of your members signed up as a fan, a news story was created on their profile and their news feed sent out a message to all their friends telling everyone that they are now a fan of your church. So, if your church has 100 members on Facebook and each of them has only 10 friends, 1000 people would have had a message come up on their Facebook profile that told them about your church. Not bad for a minute’s work. And it was done in a completely natural way.
Most people who are on Facebook live out their lives to some extent on Facebook. It’s part of the fun. People post comments about what they are doing at any given time like, “Kurt is watching his dogs destroy their new toy” or “Bob is getting his Jack Bauer on. 24 Rocks!” or they post pictures from their trip to South Dakota. With people living out their lives on Facebook, it’s completely natural for members of your church to post things related to your church and their relationship with Christ. After all, that’s part of their lives. Whether it is becoming a fan of the church, posting pictures from a church event they attended, or posting a comment how Christ is working in their lives, your members can be adding things about your church and their faith to their profile and spreading the word about Christ and your church to all their friends in a way that is not invasive. Many people are uncomfortable approaching someone directly to tell them about Christ. While that is still something we should be doing, Facebook provides a way to share our lives with Christ indirectly. It doesn’t seem like marketing or evangelism, but it is.
A Recommendation and a Sneak Peek:
In addition to the fact that this form of church marketing on Facebook is stealthy, it is also a subtle recommendation for the church as well a sneak peek into what the church is like. One of the best forms of marketing for any church or business is the recommendation of that church or business to a friend. We don’t always believe what a company or organization tells us, but if a friend tells me that he really likes a particular product, I’m much more likely to get that product. By posting positive things about their experiences in church, your members are in effect recommending the church to their friends. That can have a profound effect. Your members are also providing a window for their friends to see what your church is like. If their friends are not familiar with church or had a bad experience at a church, this can be a great way to show them what your church is like and make them feel more comfortable visiting.
It’s the secret power of Facebook for church marketing and evangelism. By encouraging your members to include their church lives on Facebook, they can be telling others about the church. More importantly, by including their life with Christ on Facebook, they can be sharing the love of Christ with their friends. After all, “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matthew 5:14)…even on Facebook.