Many of you can tell a similar story; enamored with the possibilities of having a presence on the World’s largest social network, you jumped at the chance to create a Facebook Group for your ministry. As the Group grew in membership, wall posts began to roll in and a few fun topics were started on the discussion board. Then, a strange thing happened… membership continued in a slow ascent, but all activity in the Group died off completely.
Like us, your excitement was renewed when Pages came onto the scene to represent celebrities, brands and organizations. You may even have gone through the same process mentioned above and ended up with another forgotten community of users.
The problem with both of these approaches is that neither were very social. Groups hold a lot of potential for community interaction, but in the Facebook culture they tend to act as more of a badge of honor that is joined and forgotten. Pages held even less opportunities for community interaction since practically the only thing you could do is “become a fan” of something. Thankfully, things have changed for the better.
Let’s Try This Again
Along with other recent renovations happening around Facebook, Pages, now rebranded as “Public Profiles,” have undergone a massive overhaul with several notable tweaks. Likely the most exciting change, Public Profiles now act similarly to any other profile on Facebook, complete with status updates, a wall, the ability to post links, etc. What makes this so exciting is all of that great information is no longer trapped within the confines of an obscure page that is never visited. Instead of your fans having to seek out your content, your content now comes to your fans’ News Feeds every time you make an update, taking advantage of the viral nature of Facebook communication.
It gets better; remember the RSS news feeds you fought so hard to get on your current site? You know, the ones that geeks love so much, but the casual visitors are oblivious to? We’re finally reaching the point where using all of that great technology is starting to pay off.
My personal favorite feature of the redesigned Public Profiles is the ability to automatically import a news feed onto your ministry’s page as a Facebook Note (just like importing your blog on your personal account). If you’re like me, you may also serve as the content producer for much of the information that goes up on your site; the last thing I want to do is to log in to all of our different web services and spend my entire day publishing the same content over and over.
Needless to say, it’s a huge win to update one place and have that content find it’s own way to your users. Does your ministry use a public video site to distribute video content? Simply post a “link” on the wall of your Public Profile and Facebook will automatically pull in the title, description and thumbnail for the video content. Even cooler, if you’re using one of the more popular video sites (we use Vimeo), your fans can watch the video content directly on the wall of your Public Profile or from within the post on their own News Feed.
The future only looks brighter for Public Profiles as developers begin to create Facebook applications that can be used along with the currently available functionality (Twitter, for instance, would be a great addition). It looks like it’s finally possible to have a Facebook presence that won’t get lost in the shuffle.
How Do I Create a Public Profile for My Ministry?
It’s pretty painless to get started! Simply visit facebook.com and look for the sentence “To create a page for a celebrity, band or business, click here.” Follow the instructions and enter the relevant information for your ministry. Please note that Public Profiles should have a separate login from your personal profile to keep everything professional (and easy for someone else to take over in case you leave your position).
After you’ve set up your basic info, simply upload an image to use as the profile photo and you’re ready to go! You’ll probably want to dig deep into the settings for the current functionality and edit the permissions you want to give to your fans. Be sure to tweak the dials under the Notes section to set up the automatic news feed importing mentioned above. Once you have everything how you like it, you’ll need to visit “Edit Page” and make the Public Profile live to the public.
Now that you’re up and running, you can start promoting the Public Profiles on your website and through social avenues such as Twitter and personal blogs. We found that we had the best response simply from sending an email blast to all members of our former Facebook Group.
Make it a goal to update your status at least a few times a week, and post links and photos as often as you can. Remember, every time you add content it puts your Public Profile back in the spotlight for your fans. Also, after you’ve been live for a few days, be sure to check out the terrific stats Facebook provides under the “View Insights” section.
Don’t miss an opportunity to capitalize on such a great (and free!) communications tool. It’s finally time to have a serious presence on Facebook.
Is your ministry already on Facebook? Post your experiences and tips in the comments below.