Why It’s Almost Impossible for the Church to #DeleteFacebook
Writer + Founder of CRTVCHURCH
T rending on Twitter is a hashtag titled #DeleteFacebook, and it’s starting to gain some traction as Elon Musk (the real-life Iron Man) removes Tesla and SpaceX pages from Facebook.
According to a report from BBC News, Facebook is currently under fire because they failed to inform users that their data might have been harvested by a data-firm called Cambridge Analytica. Cambridge Analytica and Facebook are presently under investigation, and both Facebook and Cambridge Analytica deny any wrongdoing.
However, the investigation and the hot mess that all this is quickly becoming prompted a tweet from WhatsApp co-founder, Brian Acton, saying, “ It’s time #DeleteFacebook”
The #DeleteFacebook “movement” is getting a lot of attention and while some users might feel it is necessary to jump the Facebook ship, the majority are indifferent… for now.
This predicament does raise some questions though, the essential being, “should the church abandon the social network site?”
Over the past few years, churches have leveraged the platform in some fantastic ways and have been able to reach massive amounts of people in their communities and build thriving online platforms all because of the user-friendly social media network, Facebook.
I find there are three significant reasons why churches should not be so quick to leave the site and #DeleteFacebook. Here’s why:
1. So, many people are on the platform and are staying put… for now.
This first point affects all the others. For now, people are staying put on the platform. Like I’ve already stated, many users are indifferent to the news that they may or may not have had their data misused. In the few days following the notion of #DeleteFacebook, not many have jumped ship as many see Facebook as an intricate part of their lives to the point where it’s not worth leaving.
Currently, while there is a lot of attention on #DeleteFacebook, it is not causing radical change among the majority of users. So, with that in mind let’s move to the other points.
2. It is the best way to interact and market to people within your region with little to no advertising budget.
Mailers, billboards, local newspapers, regional magazines, radio, TV, and word-of-mouth advertising were at one-time some of the only ways to communicate your church to the outside world. All of those (minus word-of-mouth) were costly and ranged in their effectiveness.
Then came Facebook, the site gave users the opportunity to spend a few dollars and have a post about their churches or organizations seen by thousands. The best part? One can target those ads and track their performance.
Studies suggest that 70% of those in your community are on Facebook. Therefore, leaving the network means giving up your opportunity to spend your ad dollars and reach three-fourths of your community.
3. Like it or not, it is the tangible thing holding so many communities together online.
Deleting Facebook means you are giving up something that is connecting you to so many people in the digital sphere. As the church, we are expected to have a voice in this world, whether physical or digital. Facebook gives so many the access to that digital world.
Without a Facebook account, many would immediately lose their online presence as many have put a lot of stock in the social network. Facebook is not only a means to post events, but for some, it is also the only direct route in which users access and interact with their church online.
For those reasons, it makes it difficult to remove Facebook from the life of our organizations. However, the digital space is always changing, and the church needs to be ready to change with it. Facebook might one day disappear, and a new platform will rise to take its place. However, it is this writer’s opinion that we shouldn’t put all of our eggs into other people’s baskets.
Therefore, at the risk of sounding like a doomsday prepper, I believe we should be developing online content strategies that are within our control and ask ourselves: Should Facebook — or any other social platform — go away how will your church communicate to your community? With that in mind, here are some quick thoughts to get you started:
1. Capture emails and do something with them.
Email is purposeful, it is personal, and it is targeted. So many churches collect emails, but the most of them sit in their records collecting digital dust. If you want to grow your digital connections with people outside of Facebook, email is an excellent place to start. Here are some ideas to get those email addresses off your hard drives and working for your church:
2. Have a vibrant content strategy in place for your church website.
Your website isn’t restricted to being a place for people to check for your service times. I would bet the majority of churches do not take full advantage of their site’s potential. My personal belief is every church should think like a media company.
Your pastor and/or staff should have an active blog on your website, something that covers different topics, happenings around the church, and a catalog of previous teaching series + a brief recaps.
3. Strive to make “real-life” connections with people.
I leave you with one last thought, strive to make “real-life” connections with people. Yes, there is a place for online community, and I believe in its benefits, but it has its limitations, and an active real-life community beats a digital one every day of the week and twice on Sunday.
Therefore, plan events, make friends, and build strong connections with your team and your church.
In the meantime, #DeleteFacebook is a blimp on a news cycle. Don’t get too worried and do leverage the tools you have in front of you. Being connected to those around you online is vital and is a foundational element of our modern churches.
Nik is a content creator living in Orlando, Florida. In 2015, he and his wife, Lydia, founded CRTVCHURCH to bring fellow church creators together. You can hear Nik every week on the CRTVCHURCH Podcast.
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