Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Social Media as a tool in Ministry - Facebook "pages"

So the concept of using a social media platform to distribute information to people is not a new concept. However people are discovering new and better ways to use the tools that are currently available. 

Most Recently I have personally started what Facebook calls a "public figure" page. The effort is to maximize utility of Facebook as a communication tool, specifically for me in ministry. Not many church workers are doing this yet but I think it is something that we all should do. So I want to discuss the reasons behind using Social Media as a tool and how that can impact both good and bad in our lives and ministry.

Why a "public figure" page?

quite simply here because there is not specification for Church Worker, Pastor, or any other religiously affiliated title that is specific. Other professionals get to use pages specifically titled for their line of work like "politician" "teacher" "artist" "writer" and many others, the title that most appropriately fits a person in local church ministry is "public figure." We have chosen to live our lives as an example to others and therefore become a figure for the public to look to, we should hide nothing of ourselves it is our witness. If we are afraid for others to see an aspect of our lives then we should rethink our position or involvement in those activities.

The next question that comes naturally is:

If you say you should hide nothing of yourself then why should you have a separate "public figure" page instead of doing all your communication through your personal profile?

Here the reasoning gets a little more logistical. The algorithms that Facebook uses to decide who sees what posts are very specific, they have to do with the number of "friends" you have, how many of them are online, who have you "recently" interacted with via Facebook. Is is a picture? is it a link? or is it just words? Is it a poll question? if so who has responded to it? The developers at Facebook know that we all get online to see something, however if they showed us everything then we would see less of what we "like" so their algorithm factors all these things in with all your friends and then decides when and where it should show up on people's news feed. So consequently the time of day that you post something could be the difference between it being seen by 3 people or 300 people. (if you have enough friends that it could be seen by 3,000 people then Facebook has likely already talked to you about changing your page format because posts are rarely seen by more than 2/3rds of your friends and there is a 5,000 friend limit)  When you use Facebook as a ministry tool, you should make sure you are maximizing its utility. A "page" that someone has to actively click like for the item to show up in their news feed, is more likely to be content that the algorithm will push to the people connected to your page. Additionally, it allows you to view insights into who sees which posts. Allowing you even further to make the most out of the ministry tool, in this case a Facebook "public figure" page.

The point is not to hide posts from people, and it is not to hijack people's news-feed but instead to get messages of value to the people who find value in what you have to say. 

Who decides what message is valuable, significant, or relevant, to the people on Facebook? 

In a personal profile, you do. In a "page" they do. They have to click the like button on the page to even begin seeing posts from it in their news feed. Where as through the personal profile algorithm it factors in interactions that you have made and your posts could start showing up on the news-feed of someone whose photos you browsed but otherwise have little or no interaction aside from sitting next to each other in the 6th grade and not wanting to hurt the other persons feelings when a friend request showed up in your inbox.

What this does not mean is that you should show less about your faith or make less ministry related posts on a personal page because we are not hiding ourselves from people in our past nor should we be. However, we should be paying attention to see if someone has clicked a link to an important article we posted. When we have a word we hope will inspire a specific group of people we should be intentional enough to let them hear it.

We should make the most out of the Social Media Tools that we have before us doing everything we can to communicate with people whose lives our touched by our ministry.

As Always thanks for your time and giving this a read. If you enjoyed it share it with friends, you can do so easily with one of the buttons below. I pray that you will embrace life in the Love and Grace offered to you through Jesus Christ, and that you will always remember Jeremiah 29:11.  – For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, Plans to Proper You and not for harm, Plans with Hope for the Future.

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