Use a Facebook Page for Ministry, Not Your Personal Profile

by Sr. Susan Wolf, SND on December 10, 2013

in parish

Facebook Like ButtonMany parish ministers who are on Facebook receive friend requests from not only friends and family, but parishioners as well.  They accept those requests and in time come to think of their personal profile as their parish ministry profile more than their personal profile. But what happens when the minister moves, gets transferred or retires?  Who will communicate parish news then?  Should people who want to follow the parish need to be friends with one specific minister (even if it is the pastor)? I don’t think so.

I have written before about the differences between the Facebook profile and the Facebook Page and here is an update of that content.

Facebook User Profile

To be “on” Facebook, requires that you sign up and create your user profile providing your social résumé. You supply as much or as little information as you like: favorite songs, quotes, TV shows, etc. This information appears in the About section of your profile. You can also post messages, pictures, videos, etc. to your “Wall”. These posts appear in the “News Feed” of your friends and their posts appear in yours. People can like, comment and/or re-share what appears in their news feeds. You accept people to be your Friends and you request to be Friends with others. Through various Facebook settings, you can determine who will see what is on your profile.

Facebook Page

The best option for a parish presence on Facebook is a Facebook Page. You must have a Facebook profile to create a Page. A Facebook Page is meant for the public. The information provided is about the parish and its ministries. People who “like” this Page also receive the posts in their news feeds. There are many pluses in having a parish Facebook Page. Here are the four that I find most important.

  1. It is more professional to have people follow a parish Page than an individual minister.
  2. A Facebook page can have multiple administrators (people who can make posts on behalf of the parish).  Certainly, everyone can comment on posts, but I believe, that posts are a ministry and should be made by designated ministers who understand and follow the parish social media policy.
  3. Administrators can be added and removed by any other administrator. Thus allowing for continuity of the Page when ministers change.
  4. Facebook Pages also have the advantage of “Insights.” Facebook provides demographic data about Page followers: age, gender, and geographic locations in very easy to read graphs. It also reports how many followers interact with posts (like, comment, share) and tells you which posts are getting the most activity, and how many people saw content from your Page in a given week. This is valuable data for measuring the impact and influence of your Page posts and helpful in measuring the results of advertising your Page should you decide to do that. Page administrators have access to Insights.

What should you do if your parish Facebook presence is really your personal Facebook profile?

Discuss this with the parish staff and see if they agree to set up a parish Facebook Page.  Make it about the parish not about you or some other minister.  Determine who will be the administrators.  Read my post on quality control for parish Facebook Pages  as you make your plans.

Once the Parish Facebook Page is established, let your “friends” know that your parish ministry posts as well as much more will be on the parish Page in the future and invite them to like that Page.  Eventually, as your ministry followers move to the parish Page, you can delete them from your personal account if you wish.  This decision is up to you. They will not know that you deleted them, other than noticing they are not receiving posts from your personal account anymore.

For Comment:

Do you use your personal Facebook profile for ministry?  What do you think about this post?

Have you made the transition from posting ministry content on your personal profile to posting on a parish Page?  Please share your experience.



{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Dianna December 10, 2013 at 9:52 am

I wonder if anyone has set up a Facebook acct for their parish? We are in the process of developing a communication team and plan for the parish. One of the thoughts that came up was if we should just set up an acct for the parish and run various ministry pages through that acct.

Does anyone have have thoughts or experience with this?

In gratitude,

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND December 10, 2013 at 10:14 am

Dear Dianna,

I am not sure what you mean by an “account”. Some parishes have multiple Facebook pages i.e. one for the parish, one for the school, one for the youth, etc. But each one is a separate page that has to be administered by someone who has a personal profile on Facebook and the authority to “own” that page. You could have the same person set up the different pages and then add the different ministers as administrators to the Page that belongs to them. The administrators login to the Page using their own Facebook login and do not have to be given access to the creator’s login. I hope that helps.

Sr. Susan

Fran Rossi Szpylczyn December 10, 2013 at 10:40 am

Thank you for this post, which I will now print, forward, share and offer to the many people who ask me about this.

I run the parish Facebook pages of both my employer and where I worship. Having pages that are a mix of personal and place are a mess in my experience and opinion.

Now I do use my own Facebook page for ministry, but that is for my own ministry. I am in complete agreement with you!

Thanks for this – and so much more.

Sr. Susan Wolf, SND December 11, 2013 at 4:02 am

Thanks, Fran. I am glad that you made the distinction between a personal ministry and an organizational ministry in your comment. Another way of summarizing this post is that for anyone representing an organization it is a best practice to use the organization’s Facebook Page, not their own personal profile for posting.

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