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Facebook have introduced ‘pages’ for organisations, so rather than multiple groups or closed networks any organisation can set up a page including churches that they can use to promote themselves.

Having set up a Facebook group for our church, and managing to recruit some church members to join up (13 members at the last count), I thought it would be good to have something a little more official. On the face of it, pages look quite similar to groups but with some small differences, such as fans instead of members.

Another more frustrating difference was that there was no mechanism for me to invite people to join. I had to go back to the Facebook group and message all members to let them know about the page. I think Facebook want you to run an advertising campaign to gain ‘fans’.

One advantage over groups is the ability to have applications, but at present it seems that most applications are not compatible yet for pages, application developers need to revise their work.

It seems likely that these pages will be indexed by search engines, looking at the church’s page without logging in gives quite a but of info (but not who the fans are).

You can create a Facebook page for your church by going to the business section of Facebook.

Help via: Dave Walker gives his take on ‘Facebook pages’.

After I heard the announcement of pages, I couldn’t work out how to add one, so dismissed it as something launched for North Americans. Seeing Dave become a fan of his church in my Facebook mini-feed encouraged me to look harder.

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Over the last few months I have been somewhat distracted by Facebook, and unlike almost all the other social networking sites I have tried, I have found non-techie friends are using it.

Facebook difference

Many people are raving about it, and I can understand why as I have caught up with people I haven’t spoken to for many years. Unlike email, there is a instantness of communication with people and no spam. Which means that short conversations can happen quickly, but without the intensity of instant messaging.

Also, unlike other social community websites, the privacy settings allow for close control of profile and information.

I had been using on-line photo sharing websites, but these don’t come close to Facebook in the social aspect of being able to tag friends and share photos with restricted groups of people.

But what about the church?

I have tried, unsuccessfully to coax church members onto mychurch.org (one member plus me to date).

I thought the reason for this failure was because people didn’t want to sign up for another on-line service that they might not use, and they couldn’t see a use for it.

However, after setting up a church group on Facebook, we already have 10 members. This is because church members were already users of Facebook, so joining a group was easy.

Using Facebook for your church

The other benefit is that non-Christian friends on Facebook can see what groups you join and so can see easily your affiliations. So rather than a closed Christian networking site, Facebook is a social networking site that better reflects your friendships and not just your Christian clique. It is obviously no substitute for sharing your faith in person, but allows you to create a profile that reflects your faith and to share this with your other friends.

With group events pages, we can better manage what is happening rather than a storm of emails and phone calls trying to arrange event.

How are other churches using Facebook?

Let me know in the comments how your church is using Facebook or other social networking sites.

Bill Seaver in Outreach Magazine, reprinted in Christianity Today, writes about the difference between web 1.0 and web 2.0. He is making the important distinction, and explains that what was progressive 2 or 3 years ago for a church website, is now dated. Seaver argues that churches need to embrace web two point oh to gain the most benefit from the web and stop making excuses about not being ready.

Does this sound like your church? If you’ve mentioned “sprucing up the Web site” recently or thought, Our Web site needs to be more cutting-edge and have more energy and movement, there’s a good chance you share the mentality of this publisher. You’re thinking about Web 1.0 when you should be thinking Web 2.0, and that’s just not going to cut it in 2007.

By web 2.0 he means, blogs, photo-sharing sites, online video, podcasts and social networking sites. He goes on to explain that web 2.0 is not as difficult or expensive as it sounds and ends with;

If your church isn’t ready, then you’re the best possible candidate for Web 2.0.

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