Digging Into Facebook

General Assembly 2014 Event 408

This was part of the #UUsGetSocial series of workshops

Program Description

Proven methods to help both individuals and congregations promote Unitarian Universalist (UU) values, UU social action, and UU identity online. Straightforward tips from UU experts on Facebook, Twitter, and video-making and sharing.


SPEAKER 1: Without any further ado, this is Reverend Joanna Fontaine Crawford.


REVEREND JOANNA FONTAINE CRAWFORD: Good morning. And I assume that practically everyone here has had the experience of someone coming and knocking at their door, wanting to talk to them about their church. Or maybe you have come home from work and found a flyer for a church or a pizza place or a lawn care service on your door. Right? Most of us have had that experience.

To do that takes a lot of money and/or time and energy. And especially if it's for a church, it's getting people who are willing to go out and do that. You have the same resources, except that rather than going from door to door, rather than costing money, you can do it on Facebook. Every member of your church is primed to be what I call a missionary because they are taking the mission of Unitarian Universalism out into the world.

So how do you use this great force of evangelism? Well, a lot of you're members, I'm going to assume, are on Facebook. Not all of them are. And so when you have the people who are interested in getting on Facebook but don't really know how to do it, offer a class. This is something we had our intern at First Houston, Rebecca Crystal, went to all three campuses, advertised the class ahead of time, didn't get a whole lot of people because, again, so many of us are already on Facebook. But those who weren't appreciated having someone who could lead them through the really kind of basic stuff.

And one of the benefits to us is that they will then be primed to help with spreading our good news, letting people know about the church. But it's also a ministry to them. When you do this, then you're allowing someone to have a connection with their grandchildren or with their friends, meet up with people from long ago. So I don't want us to forget those of us who may not already be where we are. So I encourage you to do that.

So once you have all of these people, all of these evangelists ready to go, what do you do? First of all, you get them to like your page. Hopefully, you all have a church Facebook page.

This is different from a group. You don't have to be a member of the group. It's something that someone can simply go and like. In the same way, if there was a celebrity, you could like their page and follow along with them. And you see the big red circle there. That's show them how to do it, get them to like your page. And this will mean that posts that you have, hopefully, will come up on their feed.

I do have to give the caveat and say, hopefully, because the truth of the matter is Facebook continues to change what they do and what you can see all the time. I could tell you something today and then tomorrow it will be different. The first step is simply to get them to like your page. But if you can then go a second step and remind your church members, especially the leaders, hey, don't forget, maybe once a day, a few times a week, be sure and go over to our page. Make sure you're not missing out on anything.

And the reason for this is Facebook wants us to start paying money for doing this. And that may be something that your church decides to do at some point. Whenever you post something on your church Facebook page, it's generally, from my experience, going to give you a little pop up that says something like, well, 16 people have seen this. Would you like more people to see it? And you can sign up for that. I'm not going to go into that because at First Houston, at this point, we're not spending much money. We're using what's already available. And for a lot of our churches, that's kind of going to be the way to go.

So how do you get your folks to like the page? Like with anything, ask. And ask them in many different ways. This is the new reality, which is you can't simply put something in a newsletter one time and expect everyone to read it and do it. You have to give it to them in a variety of ways.

So put something into your newsletter, probably several times. If you have announcements, say something from the pulpit. Go ahead. I know that so many of us want to hold down on the non-worshipful things that we're saying from the pulpit, but this is really important because this is a way to get information outside of your walls.

My philosophy is that the people outside of our walls are part of our community too. And we need to minister to them. In meetings, just make it kind of a regular thing that you do. Hey, has everyone gone through and liked our page? Maybe have a campaign, where you send out something to all of your church leaders and say, be sure, when you're doing your check-in, to ask everyone go like our page.

And obviously, use Facebook to get people to do it. On your own Facebook, if you're connected with people, put something. You can do a connection to that page and say, hey everyone. Be sure and go like our page.

So you have all of the people who have now liked your page. They're getting the updates about the church. What else can they do?

Well, get them to check-in. And here's why you're doing this. I started this off by talking about how you have a force of evangelists. And what I mean by that is every church member you have who is on Facebook, however many friends they have, that's how many people can see what they are posting about their church. And it's kind of this great passive way of doing evangelism.

You're not trying to convert anyone. You're just talking about what you're doing. And so this is one of the most basic ways.

The one on the left is the actual Facebook thing. You'll see up there in the corner, you can check-in. And it should come up that you can choose your church. The one next to it, there are several complementary apps that you check-in there, and then they will post on Facebook. I'm not going to tell you how to do that or anything. I just wanted to let you know. If you have people who say, oh well, I like to do it through Foursquare, that's fine. Just say, OK. Do you have it then post on Facebook? Because the whole goal is to get people seeing all these people checking in.

This is something that my church does. And it's pretty neat when all of a sudden 20 people are all posting about going to the same place because some of those people are going to wind up having friends in common. So that's one Get them to check-in when they come in.

And so when do you get them to check-in? At my church, when we do announcements, one of the things that—

We try to keep our announcements really short. But we think this is really important.

—and so every Sunday I say, I would like to ask you now to put your smartphones on the worship mode. That means that it's not going to beep or ring or play songs. But you are free to Facebook out or tweet out messages about what you're hearing today. Maybe even invite a friend to come with you next week. And this is something people are hearing every Sunday. And you know what? They're doing it. And a lot of people then at that time will go in and check-in that they're here. This is what they're doing.

Also meetings. Now, pause for a moment. You may have some people who don't want to do this. They don't want maybe at their work, they don't want people to know that they go to a Unitarian Universalist church. Maybe they don't want people to know where they are at any given time. That's fine. And frankly, I wouldn't spend a lot of time on that issue. They get to make that choice. I don't think you need to persuade them otherwise.

But you are going to have a lot of people who will be willing to do this. Put that attention on them. So when you have, like say, your board meeting, just say, hey. Why don't we go and check-in. Let everyone know where we're here.

And I will say that also has the added benefit for your own members. They're seeing, oh, these are all of the things that are going on at the church. And a lot of times new people, one of the first things they're going to do when they come to your church, maybe even before they come to your church, so be aware of that, is they are going to check you out on Facebook. And they will follow you on Facebook. And so you are letting them know, oh, wow. There's all these people are checking in at yoga or all of these people are checking in with this religious education event. So again, it's a really easy way to spread information.

So they've liked your page. They are checking in. The next step is to get them to share.

And I don't mean share, like share your cookies. Although, that's certainly a good thing. You want them to share the information that you will put out, your church will put out, about what's going on at church. The number one rule is make it easy.

Y'all know. We get on Facebook, and there are so many things to look at and share. And if people have to take more than one second really to share, if they're going to have to copy and paste, they're really not going to. Very rarely will they. So make it easy.

And one of the best ways to make it easy is through graphics. And I think probably the church that is doing the best job of this is where I used to work, the Church of the Larger Fellowship. I've joked before that I'm pretty sure no one sneezes over there without them making a Facebook graphic about it. Anything they do, they make a graphic because they know two things.

Number one, Facebook is a program that is for graphics. That's where everything is moving towards. That's the thing that catches everyone's attention. And graphics are easy to share. You see the circle down there. Someone sees something. Click on Share.

And that's something you can also, I think it's good to encourage people. Be sure and tell your leaders, hey, by the way, this is coming through. Be sure and share it.

Some of the popular things to share are things that are related to news or events. From my experience, if you have an event at your church, that is going to need a little bit more hand holding from you to encourage people to share it. Like if you have your water communion is coming, right. And you want to encourage, not just your members, but you want to encourage people to bring friends. People will see the graphic, and they'll go, oh cool. The water communion's coming up. And that's it.

So with those kind of things, especially if you have something really big, like your service auction or something you're doing out in the community, those are the types—

You don't want to do it all the time because people are going to stop paying attention to what you're sending them. But for the big stuff, send out an email or a Facebook message to your leaders saying, hey, can you help me out? We have this thing promoting this event. We really want people to know about it. Can you go share it on your Facebook?

People love to do that. And people love to be asked personally. So for those things I think you do need a little extra attention.

But also news. News is something that, if you can create a good graphic, people—

Think of how it is, like when a new decision comes down. In Texas, when the decision came down about marriage equality, everyone wants to be the one to get the news out there first and in a supportive way. And graphics are easy to make. I'm going to talk very briefly about some ways you can learn about that in just a second. Pop up a graphic. And that's something that people are going to want to share with. You really aren't going to have to do a whole lot of hand holding with that.

And the other thing that our experience has taught us that really can gain a lot of traction is quote or inspiration graphics. If you read something, especially like maybe if you're doing themes at your church and it has to do with that, or if it has to do with something going on in the news or just something like this that speaks to our religion, people are going to want to share it because most of us love this religion. And we want other people to know about it.

And it's a great way for those UUs who haven't found us yet. We all know about them. It's a great way for them to learn more about Unitarian Universalism in a not-aggressive way.

I would encourage you to, if you make any of these, put your church name on it because these can go viral. And you want people to know it's coming from my church. You want people to see that.

So with the graphics, obviously I'm not going to teach you how to create the graphics. We don't have time for that. One thing that is very easy to do—

You could do it right now, and in 30 seconds, maybe one minute, you'd have a graphic.

—if you simply Google, how to create Facebook graphics, there are all of these little programs out there where you just pick a picture, and you write in a quote. And it makes one. It'll usually have down in little letters the name of whatever that generator is. But if you want to do something on the fly, it's absolutely a great way.

The best way, of course, is to create your own. And it's not as difficult as you might think. And we have it's called the UU Media Collaborative. And I'm sorry I didn't have that up on the slide. If you go to Facebook, and in the search put UU Media Collaborative, it is a closed group. But knock on the door, ask to join, and they'll let you in. And the whole purpose of it is to teach people how to make beautiful, strong graphics that we can share our faith way. So I'm just so grateful for the people who are doing that.

So I mentioned a little bit about events. We at First Houston, we try to have a graphic for every event that we do, whether it's a Sunday service or some kind of a special, not for regular meetings, but any kind of special event that we want to be sure to bring people's attention. And we set them up as an event. And when you set something up as an event, that's where you're going to go in, you're going to specify the time, the date. You can invite people to it. You can share it. Let me shows you one.

So here's one. So the great thing about events is that you have so many things that you can do with it. You can join it. You can say, yes, I'm going to be there. You can share it. You can leave a comment.

All of those things are going to ensure that it gets more people seeing it. So I'm a big fan of Facebook events. And I'm especially a big fan of putting some kind of a graphic with it.

So now, you've done all of this. You've got people on Facebook. You're giving them information that they can share. Now we want to come full circle, and we want to integrate the virtual—

I hate to say virtual and real world because I think the virtual world is pretty real. It's simply another layer to what we are doing.

—but you want to bring those together. And in this age of information overload, what you want to do is make things sticky. And what I mean by that is you want to repeat things multiple times. Like I said earlier, the days where you could put something in a newsletter one time and that was it are over with. And it's not just about sending out the information in different ways, it's also about unifying it.

If you have one event, say your water communion, you're not going to send it out with one graphic over here and one graphic over here and one graphic—

Number one, it wastes time. But the bigger issue is you want to make it sticky. This is why advertising works. They show us the same things over and over, and it gets stuck in our brain. So you have your graphic. You've joined the UU Media Collaborative. You've made your cool graphic. So now you're going to use it in different ways.

You're going to use it as your Facebook cover. You're going to put it into a Facebook event. If you have a printed order of service, this is what we do at First Houston, that same graphic will be used, if it's for a Sunday service, will be used on our order of service cover. If you are at a church that uses a projector as part of your service, projecting lyrics and whatnot, have some announcement graphics that you are running before and after the service. And again, use the exact same graphic.

In your newsletter, if you're going to have a little article about the event, use the graphic. And depending on the way your website works, you can maybe even use it there. At my campus, on our homepage, we have rolling slides. And so any event, we take that exact same side and put it up there. So people are seeing this in one, two, three, four, five, six, at least six different ways.

I will tell you that that does not mean that you will not occasionally still have someone come up to you and say, I had no idea.


Bless their hearts.


But you've put the information out there. And even more importantly, because this is the big point of all of this, is you are not doing all the work. You've done this part of the work. But now the real work begins. And that's for all of your church people to share this information. And you've made it easy for them. How could they not?


Slides and Resources