It should be both!
For a long time there has been a bit of a war/struggle between should one use a Facebook Group or a Facebook Page for your Church’s Facebook presence. Each have their pros and their cons and we need to better understand what these differences are and how they impact Church communication’s strategy.
In part 1 of the series, we looked at WWW Visibility and Branding. In part 2, we looked at the whole Notifications aspect. In this third installment of the five part series, we’ll be taking a look at Engagement.
This is probably the most significant strategy consideration point when deciding on whether to use a Group or a Page. Social Media is all about the engagement capabilities of the platform. FAST Company wrote the following a short while back:
Today, a product or service [think Christianity/Church] is powerful because of how it connects people to something–or someone–else. It has impact because we can do something worthwhile with it, tell others about it, or have it say something about us. (square bracket insert mine)
Facebook Groups engagement is limited to members only. Yes the content for open groups is visible to anyone on Facebook, but its engagement is limited to members only. As such, only Group members can like the posts and comment on the posts.
But what’s worse, Group posts cannot be shared. This is a significant social strategy bummer. As FAST Company highlighted, a product or service is powerful because it can be shared with others. If your social strategy includes trying to get people to like your content and come to Church, then it’s not going to happen using Groups. Whilst the term open group gives the impression of openness, it is still in fact quite closed. It cannot be spread, passed on or shared.
I don’t really care much for whether a Church’s social content goes viral or not. The reality is that the Bible has gone viral many times over in the last 2000 years. We are simply required to do our part in spreading it. And the inability to share Group content is not aiding this cause.
Page content on the other hand, can be shared. The limitation of course is the low newsfeed push rate. But that is why sharing page content by fans (Church members) is so important as it helps push the content via people’s newsfeed (and ticker). Also, the more engagement there is, the more important that post becomes to Facebook. Engagement then ups your post’s EdgeRanking, allowing it to be pushed to more fan’s newsfeeds.
The downside to Page engagement is that you cannot stop a person from initially liking your Page whereas there is far greater control over who joins a Group. You can block certain people from your Page, but this is most likely only going to happen after they have become a fan and proven themselves to be unreliable.
The other downside to Page engagement is that if you have set your page to allow anyone to post to your wall/time-line, then that’s exactly what it means – anyone can post content. This means that they can write both good or bad stuff. Your options here are to either set your Page permissions to first moderate every post to your wall/time-line, or to read your wall/time-line regularly and then delete inappropriate posts.
Social Media is all about engagement. You need to decide what type of engagement you want to achieve with your social media communications strategy. If your goal is to engage internally, then a Group is best for that. If you want to engage with as wide a possible community you can, then Pages is the route to go (just keeping in mind the newsfeed and notification limitations).
In the next part of the series (part 4) we’ll be taking a look at the different Privacy matters between Pages and Groups.
[HT: FAST Company]