One of the biggest business mistakes I made on Facebook was when I decided to convert my personal page into a business page. And I learned a lesson that you need to hear. Over the past three or so months I’ve met with pastor’s who have asked why their church needs a website if it has a Facebook page. Well there are two über compelling reasons why a Facebook Page is not enough.
Before I tell you what those reasons are, let me share a short story. Back in 2010 I had a personal Facebook Page I used primarily to share the content from my blog, and it was growing leaps and bounds. Every day I’d have dozens of new Friend’s requests and my posts would get 50, 60 or 70 likes and have long threads of discussion. Great interaction for a blog!
But I saw other “famous” or aspiring-to-be-famous bloggers who had professional Facebook Pages. I thought it gave them credibility. The kind of credibility and professionalism I thought I wanted. So following the lead of others, I converted my personal Facebook profile into a professional Facebook Page. What followed was devastating. Literally overnight I lost contact with my tribe. The engagement with my posts dropped to almost nil. The views hovered around 15 to 30 which is mind-blowing seeing as how I had more than 1,200 Fans. And I instantly stopped growing.
That was a lesson learned at the school of hard knocks. So to save you time, energy and money investing in a Facebook Page, I want to share with you two reasons why a Facebook Page cannot replace a church website.
1. No one will see your posts unless you pay
In social media terms, the phrase “organic reach” refers to the number of people who will see your post simply because they are “Fans” of your church Facebook Page, or maybe friends of your fans or maybe friends of friends of your fans, or maybe everybody. The key with organic reach is that you haven’t paid for it. Its views are natural. You share. People see. They like. They share. Others see and so on. All without you spending a cent to promote the post. That’s organic reach.
That’s a good thing. People want to see your posts so they “Like” your church’s Facebook Page. The problem is that people are not seeing your posts. Only somewhere between 3-6% of the people who want to see your posts will actually see them. The reason is because people are inundated with posts. Derek from the YouTube channel Veritasium points out:
“Each day 4.5 billion posts are shared across Facebook. If you were to log in once per day you could be exposed to up to 1500 posts.”
So naturally Facebook has to filter content because less and less people who say they want to see your posts actually will get to. Facebook said in a report:
“We expect organic distribution of an individual Page’s posts to gradually decline over time… to maximize delivery of your message in News Feed, your brand should consider using paid distribution” (Source)
And there’s the clincher. This is a financial opportunity for Facebook. If you want people to see the posts from your church, you’re going to have to pay. So if you update your church’s Facebook Page once a day, you’ll be investing piles of money just so that the people who already asked to see the posts when they “liked” your page will actually get to see those posts. Right now the number of people who see your posts is between 3-6%. But it’s going to get worse.
Social@Oglivy reported that back in February:
“Facebook sources were unofficially advising community managers to expect it to approach zero in the foreseeable future.”
That means soon every post you put on your Facebook Page wall will have “zero” organic reach. In other words, your Facebook Page will either be useless or very, very costly. Depending on which route you take.
2. You don’t have control
When you have a Facebook Page for your church keep this in mind: you don’t have control over your page, your brand, your message. Facebook has all the control. Any perceived control you have such as the ability to block people, share you message or have certain privacy settings, has all been granted to you by Facebook. And Facebook can change the rules any time. In fact they do quite often.
Now contrast this with a church website. You own that piece of online real-estate and you make all the rules. If your site is on a WordPress platform you can even turn it into a little social network community for your members and others. When it comes to your brand, your mission, your message, you don’t want to give up that kind of control to Facebook or any other company.
Your church website is by far your greatest online social media tool. By far! (Did I say that already?) You can and should keep the Facebook Page for your church and yes, you should share your content to your page. Because when people do a Facebook search for your church, you want them to be able to find you and hopefully your Facebook Page will lead them back to your website which is your online home base. That’s what I call “passive results.” But without spending oodles and oodles of money it is nearly impossible to leverage your church’s Facebook Page to get “active results.”
With your website the potential for “active results” (the ability to actively use your website to grow your ministry) is high. Really high. The sky is the limit. All you need is a little imagination, some dedication to make it happen and a little know-how.
So keep your Facebook Page, but don’t depend on it. Instead, invest in a modern, socially engaging website for your church. Trust me, it’ll make all the difference for your ministry.
Question: What reasons would you add to my list? Have you noticed a decline in activity on your ministry’s Facebook Page? What ways do you use Facebook to reach your audience? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
P.S. just a friendly reminder that soon I’ll be launching my course which will teach you how to get the kind of church website I just described without needing a lot of money or expertise. I’ll give you all the information you need. So keep watch for that course. (If you subscribe you won’t miss out!)