The Communications Ministry Team sponsored a workshop focused on effective and creative uses of Facebook on Friday, September 26. Sophia Agtarap, Minister of Online Engagement at United Methodist Communications, led the seminar, which was held at the Conference Center.
The thirty participants expressed interested in learning about some of the “nuts and bolts” of Facebook including setting up and linking accounts, demographics, ads on Facebook, and linking to other channels such as Linked In, Google+, Instagram, and Twitter.
Discussing the mission of United Methodist Communications Ms. Agtarap emphasized that “the church is a people as the old song declares.” It’s more than a steeple; it’s more than a building. “The church is about engagement.”
It’s important to keep online information current.
When asked how many of the participants have a Facebook page, most hands went up. When asked how many churches had a Facebook page almost all of the hands went up. People looked at Facebook from once a week to four or five times each day.
The largest growth between January 2011 and January 2014 was in the 35-55 and 55+ age groups. The 55+ group of users grew by 80 percent. Significant decline was experienced in the 13-17 year old and 18-24 year old groups. Moderate growth was experienced in the 25-34 year old group.
While Facebook groups can be open or closed, a group isn’t the public face of an organization. A church might have a closed group – people join by the admission of a moderator, in which prayer concerns are shared. That is a safe space.
The best time to post is before 8 pm. Good advice includes not posting after 3 pm on a Friday. Above all, she said, “know your audience.”
Facebook provides an opportunity to promote the branding of an organization as well as for participants to show their involvement and participation. The images of who an organization can be used to tall about who it is and what it’s involved in and state its mission.
Clearly express the rules of community engagement for your page.
Facebook has an advertising option. It could be used to help promote an organization. It’s important to “connect with people and engage your audience.” Characteristics of an ad can be fine-tuned to target an audience. “Actionables” include liking a page and signing up for emails. When creating an ad, limit text to 20 percent and then add images. Be clear about what people are being invited to do – becoming fans or engaging. An ad can also retarget/change your audience.
Some tips to jumpstart success include: be engaging, try Facebook ads, have a posting strategy, be human. In addition it’s helpful to go easy on hashtags. Analytical tools are available through Facebook. Post photos vides, and other rich media. Give polls a try. From time to time change a profile and covers. Add information to the “about” section. And, she said, “Don’t forget to have fun!”
Another social media outlet is Twitter, which has 550 million registered users. Some 215 million are active users. Four hundred million tweets are posted daily. The best time to post on Twitter is Monday through Thursday between 1:00 pm and 3:00 pm…the worst time is after 3 pm on a Friday.
To get Twitter going, get followers. Ask, is it shareable? Not everything has to be breaking news. Build a network of friends and followers. Be a good headline writer. Tweet often, with passion and purpose. And especially important – play nice.
Tweetdeck and Buffer are two tools that work well to coordinate social media.
Social media best practices include: use rich media to drive your stories: it’s not (always) about you; schedule using social media tools so that use becomes natural; be responsive, not reactive; help people find you online; audit pages to keep them current; have social interactions led to other ways to connect.