A FACEBOOK used to be a guide given to journalists at international summits, with photos of the participants to help reporters and photographers identify whom it was they were talking to.
Similar photo-guides were used in other scenarios, at Harvard, for example, where, in 2004, a group of students, led by Mark Zuckerberg, developed an online version. Over the next two years, Zuckerberg’s Facebook was rolled out to wider constituencies until, in 2006, it was made available to anyone to register.
Over the past ten years, it has developed into the biggest social-media platform in the world; there are more than two billion registered users, and 1.65 billion monthly active users. There are many different aspects to Facebook. Its core purpose is a facility for friends, family, and colleagues to exchange and circulate messages, using their personal profiles. But it is possible to set up organisational pages. With such a high subscriber base, it is no wonder that many organisations — including churches — increasingly use it as a platform for online engagement.
Before you create an organisational page, you will need to create a personal profile; both can be done free of charge. Once you have created your page, you can manage it with the app Pages Manager.
Facebook pages are similar to personal profiles, in that you can upload photos and video, post status updates, and send and receive messages; but, because they are for organisations, privacy settings tend to be less strict, and so messages can be easily shared by other Facebook users. Some organisations have ditched their own websites, preferring the simplicity of Facebook, but it is best to use Facebook in addition to your own online presence rather than as a replacement for it.
Facebook pages give you the ability to do things that you cannot do on your own website, or things that you cannot do without a great deal of effort — such as the latest tool that is being rolled out: Facebook Live, a video streaming service.
This feature opens up countless possibilities. You could, with the necessary copyright licences, stream weddings, funerals, and baptisms live, providing an “optional extra” for relatives unable to attend.
Facebook pages can be created, maintained, and updated using the standard Facebook website. But the Pages Manager simplifies the process. With it, you can instantly upload photos and videos from your mobile phone or tablet; and you can read and reply to comments and messages. The app also gives you immediate access to statistics: how many people have “liked” your page? How many people are sharing your updates? Are people watching your videos? Another benefit of having an organisational page for a church is visitors’ ability to “check in”. If tens of thousands of people regularly checked in to churches up and down the country every Sunday, it would be a wonderful piece of soft evangelism, and, at the very least, could begin to normalise the idea of church attendance.
Pages Manager is available on Android, Blackberry, iOS, and Windows.