Today, Facebook is changing the design of the “pages” that most churches use to the “Facebook Timeline” format.
I had a chance to sit down with Sean Coughlin of FaithStreet.com recently. He has been gearing up for the transition for some of his church clients.
So I asked him to share some tips that you can use right now to helping reach a bigger audience on FB. Enjoy today’s guest post.
Here are 5 tips to make sure your church’s timeline is optimized to reach people on Facebook.
(1) The change to Facebook Timeline happens on March 30th, so be ready!
Facebook says, “On March 30, 2012 your Page will automatically get the new design.” Right now, Facebook allows page users to edit their timelines in a preview stage, so take advantage. If you haven’t made any preference changes, it’s time to visit the admin section today!
(2) Choose a beautiful cover for your Timeline.
Probably the most important feature of the Facebook timeline update is the “cover”. (The cover is the giant 851 x 315 pixel banner at the top of your new profile). Churches should make sure to choose a wide angle, high resolution photo to minimize distortion. Your church is your people, and studies have show that people engage with pictures of other people far more than pictures of places. A church we work with here in NYC, City Grace, has done a great job of creating a good-looking, welcoming covers shot. Check out City Grace Timeline and Cover here.
(3) Pin the posts that you want people to see first.
If you have a post that you’re especially proud of or just want visitors to see on your page first, make sure to “pin” it to the top of your timeline. This might be another great picture of some members, a recent milestone you celebrated or a campaign you’re running now. To pin a post:
- Scroll over the upper right-hand corner of the post and click the pencil icon.
- Scroll down within the menu and click “pin to top”
- The post will now appear at the top of your timeline until you “unpin” it.
As TechCrunch recently reported, “The feature gives you significant control what visitors to a Page see first. Be sure to at least keep a link to your website pinned at all times, and rotate it with links to your apps and whatever else you want to drive the most traffic to or impressions of.”
(4) Post Pictures Wisely
As I mentioned above, newcomers and church members alike respond to pictures. Pictures generate more likes and shares than most other types of content, which means more exposure and an expanded “reach” for your church. Since pictures are powerful outreach tools, you want to get the most out of them, right? Here’s how you do that. Instead of posting an entire album, post one picture at a time. You’ll get more engagement per photo if you individually post them than if you post an entire album. Try posting 3 photos per week – one of Monday, one Wednesday and one Friday. This will create anticipation within your Facebook community and drive engagement.
(5) As an admin, make sure your church members (and your friends) “Like” the page
This was true for “Pages” and is still true for “Timeline”, the first step to using Facebook as a tool to reach new people is to make sure your church’s people “Like” the page. By simply inviting their congregants to “Like” their Facebook page, one church we work with here in NYC went from 35 “Likes” to almost 100 in less than a week and increased its “reach” by 495%. (reach is the number of people who have seen a post about your page, and yes, that four-hundred-and-ninety-five-
Then, you can track your page’s reach, likes and how many people are talking about your church from the Insights box on the Admin Panel.
Sean Coughlin is the co-founder and CEO of FaithStreet. FaithStreet helps churches reach people using the Internet. Follow Sean on Twitter: @seanwcoughlin