The Beginner’s Guide To Facebook Groups For Churches | Ep. 032

Pro Church Daily is the show where - in ten minutes or less - you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while navigating the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

February 13th, 2018

With Facebook now prioritizing groups, Brady talks about how to use this featured to build community amongst your congregation online.

February is the month of giveaways! All of these giveaways will be happening over on Instagram, so be sure to give Brady a follow – @BradyShearer – he will be sharing what the giveaways are, as well as how to participate throughout the month.

What’s In This Session?

  • Our experience with the new Facebook algorithm (0:42)
  • Facebook wants you to use Groups for your church (2:10)
  • The algorithm treats Facebook Groups similar to friends and family (3:30)
  • Depending on the size of your church, you could benefit from a single group or multiple groups (4:13)
  • Specifics (5:17)

Show Notes & Resources Mentioned

The Full Transcript

Brady Shearer: Pro Church Daily is brought to you by Story Tape, unlimited stock video downloads on a single monthly subscription. Head to StoryTape.com, and you can browse through every single video clip we have to offer, for free.

Alex Mills: Well hey there, and welcome to Pro Church Daily. It’s a shower where in 10 minutes or less you’ll get your daily dose of tips and tactics to help your church share the message of Jesus, while we navigate the biggest communication shift we’ve seen in the last 500 years.

Brady Shearer: The biggest.

Alex Mills: I’m your host Alex Mills, I’m joined as always by the boss man, and hype man, it’s Brady Shearer. And today, we’re going to go through a beginners guide to Facebook groups for your church.

Brady Shearer: So, Facebook groups is one of the most important platforms for churches that’s emerging.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Okay? And, the reason that we wanted to talk about this was one, in response to the big Facebook algorithm adjustments, let’s call it. The update.

Alex Mills: Yeah, yeah.

Brady Shearer: Of 2018. I don’t know if your church is experiencing something similar, Pro Church Nation, but for our page, we have been posting Pro Church Daily every single day, video version, on Facebook-

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: … Since the beginning of the year. If you go back to mid January, early January, when we first began posting these this year, before the algorithm was instituted. You’ll see the number of views on these videos, maybe 1,000, 2,000, 2,500. And then the ones that got shared aggressively, all the way up to 10,000 views.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: If you go to Facebook.com/ProChurchTools now, and look at the view counts, they’re about a tenth of what they were before.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: 200, 250, if we crush an episode.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Point being, for our personal Pro Church Tools account, we’ve seen a 10X drop in organic reach. Now, at Pro Church Tools we spend a ton of money on paid advertising, and so we are developing a paid strategy to compensate for this.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: But for your church, if you don’t have that type of money to put aside, as most don’t, rightfully so. We wanted to give you an alternative strategy to overcoming the drop in organic reach. And even if you’re not seeing a huge drop in organic reach, thank you lord.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You can still leverage a Facebook group, because they are entirely, entirely helpful, especially for churches. The reason I say that is because, Facebook wants you to use groups for your church.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Zuckerberg did this big tour, the creator, Founder of Facebook. This big tour in the summer of 2017, and he visited a lot of churches. In fact, people in churches that I know have since been hired by Facebook-

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: … To help build the platform. Groups in particular, because churches are a great representation of what Mark Zuckerberg, and the crew at Facebook are trying to accomplish with their groups. In fact, Zuckerberg came out in an interview with Wired Magazine and said that, “In the ideal world for him, Facebook would be an online community that kind of looks something like,” let’s say a Saddleback Church does.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Where people are rallying around a single common idea, that’s what the group is meant for. And he used, interestingly enough, a church as an example.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: This coming from an outspoken, Agnostic/Atheist-

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: … Living in Silicon Valley, maybe the epicenter for pluralism. So, just an interesting kind of example that he used Saddleback and a church as that. So, let’s talk about the distinction between a page, and a group for those that are unaware.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Facebook groups are different from a Facebook page in that, they allow everyone, everyone in the group to start threads, and comment on threads. Now of course, you can comment on a Facebook page. But that’s not going to show up in the actual feed.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: And speaking of showing up in the actual feed, what makes Facebook groups so powerful, is that Facebook treats groups a lot more similarly to a friend or a family member.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Than an actual brand page.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So it’s one way to circumvent the algorithm, and Facebook really, by dropping a pages organic reach, is almost forcing us a little bit to begin leveraging groups more-

Alex Mills: Absolutely.

Brady Shearer: Which is smart. Facebook does this all the time. They wanted us to use video more, they gave us free organic reach for using video.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: The inverse of that, they want us to use groups more, they are going to throttle our organic reach, thus forcing us to use groups. Hey, their platform, their rules. That’s what they’re allowed to do.

Alex Mills: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brady Shearer: We talked to you on yesterdays, the most recent episode of Pro Church Daily, about having a website, the most important digital platform for your church, ’cause it’s yours.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You are in control of the rules. When you use another platform, like Facebook, they’re in control of the rules, we gotta play by their rules, sour milk, whatever, it is what it is.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Another great thing about groups, is that well, this is an interesting part. So, depending on your church size, you will hear varying opinions on how many groups that you should have. I would recommend that if you are a church of 1,000 or less, to have a single Facebook group for your entire church. If however you are a church of 1,000 or more, it may be more beneficial for you to have groups that are actually broken up. Maybe you could have Facebook groups that are mirrors of your small groups.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: So if I’m in a small group with Alex, maybe we’re also in a Facebook group that’s closed just for our small group.

Alex Mills: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Brady Shearer: You could also do it by demographics. Families of young kids, the men’s ministry group, whatever. The danger of having multiple group is that, if you have too much overlap, you could have a lot of like repeat type of stuff, which could clutter someone’s feed, they would have a bad experience-

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: … Facebook maybe pulls that from the newsfeed a little bit. But, that … If you’re considering, “Should I have one group or more?” That’s an arbitrary line that I just set at 1,000, but something to consider.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Let’s talk about some specifics for your Facebook group. We’re just doing a crash beginners course here.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: Here are some specifics. What you want to do, is you want to set the group to closed.

Alex Mills: Okay.

Brady Shearer: When it comes to the privacy and security of it. Have an admin in charge of moderation and commenting. Roxanne is in control of the Pro Church Nation Facebook group-

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: … Where basically she’s starting threads every so often, but she’s also responding to comments if no one else jumps in.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: And also, depending on the size of your group. My buddy Jeff Macintosh at Church Motion Graphics, he runs now, a Facebook group, Visual Church Media, of more than 30,000 people.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: Sometimes people post stuff they shouldn’t.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So he has a number of moderators that will go in there and delete that.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: You can also, in Facebook, I don’t recommend this. But you could actually turn a privacy setting on where you have to approve every single post within the group.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: This kind of discourages posting, which is what you don’t want. Especially considering most church Facebook groups are going to be smaller, you know? You’re not going to have 30,000 people in your group.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: So you probably don’t want that. But, it is an option if you care to do so. When it comes to the content, the great thing about a Facebook group, is that ideally, the members of the group, read, not you and your staff, are the ones that are populating the group with content.

Alex Mills: Yes.

Brady Shearer: So you don’t need to develop a content strategy when it comes to what to post. That being said, if the Facebook group is particularly quiet and no one is saying things, you can stimulate discussion by asking questions.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: For instance, ask a spiritual question like, “Hey, how can we pray for you today?”

Alex Mills: Yeah, exactly.

Brady Shearer: Great question. But also, feel free to … Don’t make it too difficult to answer the questions. The more that people respond, engage, comment, like, the more likely they are to see the group in your feed.

Alex Mills: Right.

Brady Shearer: You want people to engage so that Facebook will show the group in your churches feed. So, we’re recording this, yesterday was the day of the Superbowl. So, leading up to the week of the Superbowl you could have asked something like, “Hey, who are you rooting for in the Superbowl?”

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: And that’s something that maybe an individual who wouldn’t respond to the prayer request question, would respond to this. So ask a variety of questions, stimulate discussion, get as many responses as possible to show the Facebook group in the newsfeed of as many people as possible.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: And then finally a thing that you can do now with Facebook Live, you can have multiple presenters. So what you can do is, you can do Facebook Live interviews. Let’s say-

Alex Mills: Oh yeah, I’ve seen this.

Brady Shearer: … Alex is the Pastor, as he is. And let’s say I attend his church. He could do a Facebook Live where he’s asking me questions. So, everyone knows Alex ’cause he’s the pastor, but maybe a lot of the church doesn’t know me.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You could interview me, and now people know me a little bit more, build the community inside the Facebook group community.

Alex Mills: Yeah, and I think this makes sense because we discussed Mark Zuckerberg’s statement a few weeks on an episode of Pro Church Daily when he was talking about the adjustments to the algorithm, and kind of the direction that Facebook is heading and he said, “Look, we want to foster community on this site, we just don’t want people seeing ads, and pages, and junk, and just scrolling, endlessly scrolling. We want them to see meaningful content on their feeds,” and so that’s where we’re headed. From pages, kind of just on a lot of our church pages we post our sermon graphics, and advertisements for men’s retreats, and this and that. But these closed groups are an opportunity for us to have meaningful conversation, and I think that’s in align with a lot of our vision as the church, as what we’re supposed to be as a community-

Brady Shearer: Absolutely.

Alex Mills: … That’s involved with each other’s lives, and doing this all together, and so we do it on Sunday’s, we do it on Wednesday nights. But now, we have this opportunity to do it at any time, at any moment wherever you are with Facebook. So, it’s, I think this is a good thing for churches.

Brady Shearer: Yeah, I absolutely agree. It’s the whole seize the 167 idea.

Alex Mills: Yeah.

Brady Shearer: You’ve got one hour a week Sunday morning, you got another 167 that you can leverage using something like a Facebook group.

Alex Mills: Yep.

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for this episode of Pro ChurCh daily. We are doing a big number. A large number, significant number of giveaways this month, the month of February, in Pro Church Tools and Nucleus. And, the place to be eligible for all of these giveaways is the @BradyShearer Instagram account.

Alex Mills: Yep, that’s it.

Brady Shearer: Ton of engagements going down there. If you haven’t already followed @BradyShearer on Instagram, go ahead and do that, and you will be eligible to win a number of the things that we’re giving away throughout the month of February.

Alex Mills: Awesome.

Brady Shearer: That’ll do it for today’s episode of Pro Church Daily, thanks for watching. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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