In my part-time job as Parish Webmaster, I tend to wear many hats. I’m blessed to work in a parish where our pastor and administration have recognized the profound opportunities presented by a strong online presence. As a result, they have budgeted for a staffer to create a consistent message via our parish website and social networking venues. With limited resources (and working eight hours per week), I tend to try to look at “what works” and am always experimenting with ways to garner more engagement in our community online.
Here are a few tips for things that have amped up participation on our parish Facebook page:
Build a Team
Our team includes myself (the Parish Webmaster), our Youth Minister, our Director of Hispanic Ministries and our middle school Religious Education Director. We each bring a unique perspective and all have access to the full set of tools on Facebook. Always keep your Pastor informed of your Facebook activities if he does not serve on your team.
Consider a Bilingual Presence
Our parish offers two Masses each weekend in Spanish. We are working on building up our Spanish language tools offered on the Facebook page to reflect and serve this part of our community.
Post Your Bulletin Content
As a wife and mom, I can tell you that I have rarely seen my young adult sons and husband glance at our parish bulletin (which is currently ten pages long each week). They do, however, visit our Facebook page regularly. They likely reflect a growing number of our parishioners who turn to their favorite social networking venue to find (and share) news and information from church. We post a link from the Facebook page to our bulletin online every Wednesday (before the weekend) – if I’m late posting that link, I do hear from parishioners who are waiting to read the bulletin online.
Study What Works
Facebook offers an increasingly robust set of statistics for pages. I check our statistics weekly, with an eye towards considering what types of posts increase engagement. Without a doubt, the most engaging posts on our Facebook page are photos. These afford the added benefit of helping our parishioners better know one another. One caveat: before posting photos be sure to examine and follow your parish and diocesan policies for sharing such information, especially if youth or students appear in photos.
Consider Promoting Posts
I have not done much in the way of using Facebook advertising. But I did recently run a parish survey and spent $5 of my own money to promote it. I was pleasantly surprised by the response – we had 73 people answer the survey and the data, while far from scientific, will help me determine what types of content to share on our page in the future.
What About Your Parish?
As we continue to venture into and test the waters with new tools for the New Evangelization, I encourage you to consider creating a strategy for your parish’s Facebook presence. Again, aim for engagement over numbers.