Over the last few months, several youth ministries have begun to adopt a policy to make a Facebook Page or Group their one and only presence online. They have put together a great list that I find fascinating to analyze and way the positives and negatives.
Here is the list that they came up with to make this move from a youth group website to solely being on Facebook.
- Teenagers are already on Facebook. We need to meet them where they are at now.
- We have created a website three years ago and I keep forgetting to update it.
- We do not want to have the extra cost of the website that we have to pay every month to host.
- I do not have the time or knowledge to create the website.
- Our website is not being used.
Some of these are great ideas and understandable in light of the recession and how busy youth workers really are. We do need to make sure that we properly utilize the resources we have and maximize our time with people, not websites. You did not get hired to create websites. But for me, these reasons are not enough to cop out and give up on websites.
Here are three refutes to the reasons above and why a website is still very necessary.
1. You Alienate Non-Facebook Users
Facebook was made to connect people to others and create social networks, yet parents have had a lot of reservations for allowing their teenagers to sign up for an account. In fact, middle school youth workers specifically should listen up because many are not on Facebook. At the same time, even though many adults are on the social networking site, just as many do not have an account. Using a Facebook Page as your only online presence means that teens and parents need to sign up to see and interact on the page, forcing parents to make decisions that you should not be making them have to make.
Even if EVERY single student has Facebook and parents can access and interact with your Facebook Page, promoting Facebook may be a big problem. Teens are spending too much time online, spepcifcally Facebook. We should NOT promote online bad habits. Look at some of the statistics of teens online usage from Retrevo.com:
- 56%: Social media users check Facebook at least once a day.
- 12%: Social media users check Facebook every couple of hours.
- 40%: Respondents who said they didn’t mind being interrupted for a message.
- 32%: Respondents who said using the sites was not off limits while eating a meal.
- 48%: Check Facebook after going to bed.
2. You Can Make Time for People
The excuse that you do not have time can be used for anything. Priorities should be established and you need to advertise your events, both on Facebook and the website. But when you through out that you need to spend more time with people than administrative work, you are not exploring all of your options. Let a volunteer or student leader own the website and meet with them regularly. Give them the tools, content, and empowerment to own this portion of the website and meet with them regularly. This delegation is both productive and Biblical. (Check out Exodus 18)
3. Websites Do Not Have To Be Hard Or Cost Money
WordPress has a great easy-to-design and use web application and they offer a free or inexpensive option. Completely setting up your website can take just an hour and cost you nothing while doing everything you want it to. Make the investment of an hour or two and put some great content out there, but remember that you need to keep it up-to-date and even link it to your other social media outlets.
Facebook was created to be social online, not to be the sole online presence for a company or organization. Instead of making this the only way to get the word out about an event or interact with students online, let it supplement your website.
What do you think?