Since social media has established an increasing presence in the world of communication, a great temptation for organizations is to move all online information sharing to Facebook. But studies have shown that social media is secondary to users who want to learn about non-profits, churches, or ministries—an organization’s website is still its primary source of information.
Using people who had recent, regular personal interaction with non-profits, website usability expert Jakob Nielsen observed their interactions with non-profit websites and their Facebook properties and found clear expectations for each.
What People “Like” on Facebook
Stories of People Impacted by Your Ministry
The Nielsen study shows that Facebook visitors are most interested in seeing examples of the lives changed by your ministry. They expect social media to “showcase stories about real people who have been involved with the organization.” Videos and feature story teases (that link back to your website for the full story) are effective ways to highlight your ministry at work.
Conversations With Your Followers
Past Nielsen studies have concluded that Web users associate social media with private discussions. The goal of the content you post on Facebook should be to spark deeper conversations and interactions with those who are connected to your ministry. Creating sharable content can extend the conversation to people outside your immediate audience.
Links to Your Website
Facebook content can cause considerable buzz, but keep in mind that social media is a secondary communication tool. Every organization’s Facebook presence should include clear links to your website—your primary online information hub—for users who want to learn more about or become involved in your church or ministry.
What People Don’t “Like” on Facebook
Nielsen’s study found that people don’t use Facebook to make donations to non-profits. In fact, “when we asked users to do this in the study, they were annoyed by non-profits that tried to push products or donations, or tried to get them to sign up for other things, like e-mail newsletters.” Remember that you walk a fine line when requesting financial support. Don’t risk ask-fatigue by posting giving appeals on Facebook.
Your Mission or Goals
As stated above, users are more interested in the fruits of your church or ministry. They don’t want to hear what you want to be, they want to see what you’ve done. Your mission and beliefs can be detailed on your church website for those who want to learn more, but first gain their interest by showing your ministry’s real-life impact.
Content That’s Not Supported by Your Website
Every post on your Facebook page should coincide with content on your website. Videos and stories should link back to pages on your website with more information. Event promotion posts should jump to pages with registration opportunities. Each piece of communication should give the user a chance to learn more about you and how they can get connected.
These study findings are another reminder of how much attention you should focus on your church website content. Even though Facebook’s audience is large and accessible, your church website is still where people go first to learn more about you.
How does this change your Web strategy?
Article written with the help of Bryan Young