By Gena McCown, Co-Founder Women’s Ministry Council
I have purposely chosen to leave Facebook for a bit later in the series, because there is frankly a lot to say about something we already know a lot about. Truth is, you probably have a Facebook page. Your church probably has a Facebook page too. And… I don’t think I would be stretching things to suggest that your Women’s Ministry has a Facebook page as well.
Familiarity with Facebook indicates I don’t really need to spend a lot of time explaining the benefits of using it to help promote your Women’s Ministry. Just like other social media formats you have the option to make your Facebook group private or public, you have no character limitations, you can not only post and share photos … but you can organize them into albums too. You can control the interactions too, by requiring posts to be approved or even setting your page for only approved members to post at all. There is also the ability to control how new members are added to the page. Facebook can be linked to other social media platforms to enable features that allow one post to be shown across various media formats.
One of it’s greatest benefits is that Facebook most likely has the majority of the women in your church.
Because this is very much common knowledge, I wanted to utilize this part of the series to identify the differences between a “Facebook Group” and a “Facebook Public Page”.
To begin we need to clarify official Facebook terms. The Personal Profile is actually what most of us refer to as our Facebook page. It is the one that is identified by our name, we post pictures of our children, share recipes, and have watercooler conversations about the weather, politics, and product recommendations. These pages are specifically intended to individual people, not businesses or organizations.
Now then, when it comes to organizations and businesses…. if you set it up as a Personal Profile page, it could be shut down by Facebook. I know people who have learned this lesson the hard way. I’m going to quote directly from Facebook’s help/faq page about how organizations and businesses can be represented on Facebook:
Pages allow real organizations, businesses, celebrities and brands to communicate broadly with people who like them. Pages may only be created and managed by official representatives.
Groups provide a space for people to communicate about shared interests. Groups can be created by anyone.
Other differences include:
- Privacy: Page information and posts are public and generally available to everyone on Facebook.
- Audience: Anyone can like a Page to connect with it and get News Feed updates. There is no limit to how many people can like a Page.
- Communication: People who help manage a Page can publish posts as the Page. Page posts can appear in the News Feeds of people who like the Page. Page owners can also create customized apps for their Page and check Page Insights to track the Page’s growth and activity.
- Privacy: In addition to a public setting, more privacy settings are available for groups. In secret and closed groups, posts are only visible to group members.
- Audience: You can adjust group privacy to require members to be approved or added by admins. When a group reaches a certain size, some features are limited. The most useful groups tend to be the ones you create with small groups of people you know.
- Communication: In groups, members receive notifications by default when any member posts in the group. Group members can participate in chats, upload photos to shared albums, collaborate on group docs and invite members who are friends to group events.
Currently, we use a Facebook Group. However, over the years of running my own personal blog and Facebook Group… I’ve realized groups only get you so far. And, unfortunately you can not just upgrade from a Group to a Page. Which means you are going to start from the beginning, including bringing your followers into the new format. With Groups you are able add people from your contact/friends list directly as it is associated with your Personal Profile. When you set up a page, you can share it and invite people… but you can’t automatically add people in (even if they are friends or part of your existing group).
I am hoping that one day, Facebook makes it easier to move from a Group to a Page. But, until then … this is something you are going to need to decide upon as a WM Leader. Would a Group be sufficient or would it be better to have a Page? A Group may work perfectly today, but what about over time as your church and ministry grow? If you move to a page, you lose a lot of your privacy features.
How does one decide? In this case, with Facebook, you are going to have to discuss as a team how you want to use Facebook in your ministry.
If you are intending to use it just for making announcements, sharing information, and promoting your ministry to the church and community… A Public Page is a great fit, and has a lot less limitations on it for reach and communication.
If your WM wants to use Facebook for building and fostering community among the women in your church, including sharing prayer requests … A Group would be a better fit, as it protects privacy and gives the administrators of the Group a lot more control.
One aspect of Facebook that I like above all the other social media platforms is that whether you are running it as a Page or Group, it functions a lot more like a personal website. Plus, if you follow certain ministry pages it is really easy to share their articles, blogs, and devotions with the click of a button.
Not only can you post your announcements, pictures, create event invitations, communicate with each other, post videos, etc… there is now the new feature of Facebook Live where you can literally speak to the women at your church LIVE… like your own miniature live simulcast! The women can type in questions for you to answer, or just sit back and enjoy the show. What a great way to introduce the women in the church to the various leaders on your Women’s Ministry team. You could schedule an Ask the Pastor night, feature testimonies from various women in the church, promote upcoming Women’s Bible Study Groups with a Q&A session, bring in women to answer questions for the different women in the church on parenting/marriage/work/etc, and you could even hold a LIVE Bible Study!
Those who got a chance to test the Facebook Live feature early are absolutely in love with it! This could be a HUGE benefit to our Women’s Ministries to provide connection events online between our live events at the church or in the community.