Last week I received a phone call from a parish council member wondering about “quality control” of their parish Facebook page. The pastor had given the go ahead to set-up a Facebook page, but he does not have the time to review or approve content before it is uploaded. The small group working on this feels that they have a “handle” on what is appropriate, but are wondering if they should do more.
His question got me thinking about the importance of quality control when using social media for ministry and as I thought about it, I could see that quality control is more than posting content that is consistent with Church teaching. That is certainly a criteria, but a lot of what I see posted on social media by parishes has very little “faith or doctrine.” Usually parish posts are about events and meetings, or provide short scripture quotes, but I do not see original spiritual, religious or pastoral content on most parish sites. If original content is going to be posted, then it needs to be posted by someone with theological and pastoral competencies as well as good writing skills. It goes without saying that any content needs to be complete (from the reader’s view), factually accurate, grammatically correct and follow copyright laws.
This parish wants to use social media to implement the New Evangelization. In that case, quality control needs to verify that content actually communicates the Good News of God’s love and mercy to the intended audience. The first question that has to be answered is, Who is our audience?
A ministry approach to Facebook takes a lot more thinking than posting calendar events and reminders. Here are 10 questions to ask when thinking about quality control for your parish Facebook page:
1. Who is your audience?
- a specific group within the parish
- the entire parish or
2. What is the purpose of your parish Facebook page? Is it focused on:
- fostering adult faith formation
- building community
- providing content that followers can share with others
- driving traffic to the parish website
- strengthening faith of active members
- Inviting inactive members to re-connect with the faith community
The answer to the above questions will help you answer the next questions:
3. What will you post? — (Hint: a variety is best.)
- Links to appropriate and timely resources
- Original content for comment and discussion
- Photos or videos
4. How often will you post? (I recommend a minimum of 3 times a week, a maximum of twice a day.)
- One or more times a day
- A few times a week (which days?)
5. Who will monitor and respond to comments, questions and messages that come from followers?
6. How often will you change your Cover Photo and who will select the next one?
7. Will you customize the Tabs underneath the cover photo to link to information on your website?
8. What kind of comments will you delete or block and who will be responsible for that?
9. Who will be able to make posts to the site? (Facebook allows for multiple authors on its pages.)
10. If multiple people can post to the site, who will coordinate the timing of those posts?
Once you have answered these questions, someone has to be responsible for seeing that the Facebook page content and engagement consistently addresses the intended audience and meets the criteria. That is quality control. From time to time, someone from the staff or an advisory group needs to review the criteria to see if any modifications are needed.
Does your parish have a Facebook page?
If yes, what kind of content is posted there?
How does your parish maintain quality control?