Ten Quality Control Questions for Parish Facebook Pages

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on October 15, 2013

in Catholic, social media

Facebook Like ButtonLast 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
    • beyond

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
    • Announcements
    • 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?)
    • Occasionally

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?



{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Caroline Cerveny, SSJ-TOSF October 15, 2013 at 8:25 am

Excellent questions here! Thank you Sr. Susan!

Terri Moser, MS, MA October 17, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Great post! I follow you on twitter and am greatly helped by your work. This list is perfect for me, and am taking it to senior staff to engage a few more people to help with the Facebook page. Your guidelines are sound and it’s very helpful having them spelled out.

Pat Sylvester October 17, 2013 at 7:00 pm

Very relevant to what we are doing in social media in our parish! Thanks Susan foe these great guidelines!

Sr. Angela Ann October 20, 2013 at 11:42 am

Nicely composed! This is a handy checklist! Thanks!
Sr. Angela Ann

Brad West October 27, 2013 at 2:40 pm

Sr. Susan,

Great points and great advice. I do disagree with some of the approach. There should not be any discouragement for parishes sharing community content (i.e. events and photos). The page is about the community and the community is “original content”. I see parishes that focus a great deal on the outside things and they see little benefit.

We have a problem in our parishes and that problem is that we lose connection from Sunday to Sunday. Dual-working families. Busy schedules. So forth and so on. Things like Facebook pages allow us a unique opportunity to connect with content relevant to the audience . . . the life of the parish. That’s what energizes that “come and see” for that theological discussion on Wednesday night. That desire to become more involved. To invite someone else to come and see. That breakdown of the intimidation for the one who wants to to return.

I agree that “original theological content” should come from Clergy and these pages provide a unique opportunity for Pastors and Priests to better stay connected all week long.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND October 28, 2013 at 7:22 am

I am not discouraging parishes from sharing events and photos. I am encouraging them to ALSO include content that enriches people’s spiritual lives in the everyday here and now. Content that broadens their horizons and gives them inspiration for the day adds value to the page.

Original theological and pastoral content can come from any competent person on the staff–need not be restricted to clergy.

Thanks for your comments.

Brad West October 28, 2013 at 7:51 am

I’m sorry. I misunderstood. I couldn’t agree more. My personal opinion is that parishes need to focus a great deal more on engaging in casual faith discussion that is focused on application in everyday life. Online media is a great way to promote and further engage creating that culture of discussion. Online meetings (if necessary, but not preferred). Rather than the “download of information” but truly walking together to discover Christ in every aspect of our lives.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND October 28, 2013 at 8:26 am

No problem, Brad.–I think we agree on most things when it comes to online ministry. Your comments here helped me and you to emphasize something we both think is important for parishes-enriching the faith lives of their members and followers. Have a good day.

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