Facebook is a great way for ministry leaders to nurture relationships, build community and share God’s grace.
However, many ministry leaders don’t make the most of Facebook. They often lack engagement or focus, or they focus on the wrong places.
Here are five common mistakes ministry leaders make on Facebook — mistakes that undermine the engaging ministry presence they want to develop.
The empty profile
I love how people say, “I’m on Facebook” and you look at their profile and they haven’t posted anything for a year. Being “on Facebook” is more than just having account. It’s about interacting. Having an email address is worthless unless you send email. So is a phone unless you call. Your Facebook profile is for participating in community and creating and extending relationships.
Now, I’m not one to say that if you can’t keep it up, don’t have one. Something is better than nothing. But if you have one, do something with it. Post something at least once a week and throw out some likes. Give your profile or page some life and meaning. And for goodness sake, get a profile picture.
All church all the time
This person only shares information about church. Their Facebook wall is like a church bulletin board. It makes them — and importantly, their ministry — one-dimensional. I don’t friend you to get news about your church. I want to know about and connect with you. Church is one part of that. I can like your church page for the other stuff.
Share selective information about your congregation and share your other interests too. Let us see how your faith connects to your daily life — and see your congregation or ministry through your eyes. Give it a personal, humanizing perspective. I’m interested in what your congregation is doing, but I’m way more interested in how you yourself experience it.
The over poster
This person fills up your news feed with all kinds of pictures and random social media kitch, like cat memes, e-cards or a little too much personal information. A bit of that can be fun, if it’s in your particular niche. However, it mostly just annoys people, and it obscures the important content you want to share.
Share quality content, preferably your own, with a clear and limited blend of topics. Otherwise, people will ignore or hide you, and you won’t get anything across. Don’t compete with yourself for people’s attention. Stay focused.
Even though Facebook allows you 63,000 characters for a status update, it doesn’t mean you should use them all. If you feel compelled to consistently make long status updates, maybe you should start blogging. Start a Tumblr and link your posts to Facebook. It’s also generally a bad idea to post many times a day — say, more than five times a day — and even that is a bit much. If that’s your style, consider using Twitter for those updates and selectively share some of them on Facebook. Every platform has its own etiquette. Watch, listen and learn it.
These people love to see their own posts and think that now that they have this great new social media platform they are suddenly a celebrity. These are the folks that create a Facebook page for themselves when they have, like, 300 friends. Really? Facebook requires that when you reach 5,000 friends you have to convert your profile into a page. When you get 5,000 friends, then you can have a page.
Remember to socially network with humility, honesty and humanity. It’s not all about you. That’s the whole point of social media. It’s about all of us together.
Keith Anderson is the pastor at Upper Dublin Lutheran Church, an ELCA congregation in Ambler, Pa. He is co-author with Elizabeth Drescher of “Click2Save: The Digital Ministry Bible,” a hands-on guide to social media for ministry.