With over 2 billion users, Facebook connects people from all over the world. This is an incredible opportunity for your church to invite people to be a part of a Christian community, as well as engage people who are already involved (or who have lapsed) in your church.
The question may be how best to use this powerful social media platform. Let’s take a look at one of the best resources that many churches are not using to their full advantage: Facebook Groups.
While a Facebook page is a public profile that anyone can view, a Facebook Group is a private group for like-minded people to connect in. The main difference between the two is that on a Facebook page you are interacting with all kinds of people from across the world. In a Facebook Group you are only interacting with a specific set of people – making it easier to create a community that is more personal.
Because of the smaller, more targeted audience that Facebook Groups create, they are one of the best tools your church can use: a Facebook Group can be used to foster community outside of the walls of your church and create a sense of belonging online. Because churches grow when people feel like they are part of a community, this makes Facebook Groups a powerful tool you can use all week.
Sometimes knowing where to start to make a Facebook Group and how to grow your community in that group can seem intimidating… where do you start? Here are some ways that you can start and grow a successful Facebook Group for your church.
Step 1: Plan
Having a plan for your Facebook Group is essential to its success. The first step is figuring out what the purpose and goals of your group will be. Pray over this. This is going to determine the content that you put out and the people that you invite to join. Think about who lives in your community and what ministries your church already offers that you can tie in.
Here are a few ideas for Groups Your Church Can Make:
- Men’s or Women’s Ministry
- Youth Group
- Parents with Young Children
- College Group
- Young Adults Ministry
- Married or Young Married Ministry
- This could be people who are engaged or newly married.
- Getting Out of Debt Support
- Local Community Groups
- This could offer suggestions on things like restaurants, fun things to do, local auto repair and recommendations for everyday services.
After setting up your purpose and team, begin casting a vision and planning your content – remember that the group is designed to create interaction within the community so plan content that’s beyond announcements but that fosters real discussion, commenting and input.
Once you have these pieces, it is time to set up your group. To create a new group, start at your church’s Facebook page and then go to the groups tab on the top navigation. Here you will have the option to create a new group. Now you can personalize your group by uploading a profile and cover photo, entering a group description, and adding all appropriate links and information. You want your group page to be fully set up and ready for people to join when you launch.
Next comes the fun part, actually launching your group! On this day, you want to drive as much traffic to the group as possible. Post on your Facebook pages about the group, maybe run an ad, invite people to join during an in-person event like a Sunday Service. You could even have a launch party at your church.
Facebook Group Timeline
- 8 Weeks Before Launch: Develop Purpose & Goals for Your Facebook Group.
- Questions to ask… What do we want to accomplish with this group? How will our content be shaped around that?
- 6 Weeks Before Launch: Develop Vision for Group & Discuss Plans with Church.
- Questions to ask… what do we want the community to look like in the group? What is the vision for this group and what do we need to do to bring that to life?
- 4 Weeks Before Launch: Make A Group Leadership Team & Assign Group Roles.
- Questions to ask… Who will be running and monitoring the group? What is everyone’s role?
- 1 Week Before Launch: Complete Profile. Upload Cover & Profile Photos. Add Church Information. Link to Appropriate Resources.
- Questions to ask… What needs to be added to the profile? Do we have all the resources (link to website, about section ect.) on the page that we need? Does the page look inviting and informative?
- Day of the Launch. Build Excitement. Drive People Online & In Person to Join.
- Questions to ask… how can I build excitement to join the group? How can I drive people to the group online? How can I promote the group in person?
Step 2: Engage
Now that you have your group launched, what are the next steps? Building excitement and being consistent are the two most important things that you can do in your group. Creating a meaningful community that people want to be a part of is going to take effort and consistency, but it is worth it. Get creative with ways to build excitement and get people to join your group – having people share your group with people they know is key to getting more people involved so you may need to do some promotions. Giveaways are great! This doesn’t have to be something big, it can even be a cool t-shirt. People love free stuff! Giveaways are not only fun, but they get people engaged and wanting to share the group with their friends.
Once people are in the group, the first thing you want them to do is feel welcomed. Welcome people when they join! Send them a Facebook message or an email. Ask them to engage in the conversation and ask questions. Give them ways that they can do that. Make them feel comfortable engaging. Keep it fun! Plan events, create photo contests, host Facebook Lives, run giveaways.
Oftentimes, Facebook Group admins engage a lot at the launch of the group or around an event, but then engage less with their communities as time goes on. You do not want to do this! When it comes to having an active community in your group, consistency is key.
Here is a good rule for your posting strategy after your launch to stay consistent and engage with your community.
- First 2 weeks of Facebook Group being launched: 5 times a week
- 1-2 months after Facebook Group launch: 4 times a week
- 2 months after Facebook Group launch & beyond: 3 times a week
Step 3: Invite
Invite, invite, invite. After your group is launched and you see your community growing, don’t stop inviting. Inviting in the beginning is just as important as inviting throughout your Facebook Group.
Make invitations and be intentional! Who is the audience in your group? How can you reach similar people to join your group? When you know who you are wanting to invite, it is easier to make an invitation that is going to be effective. Don’t be afraid to be direct. Ask the people in your group to invite others. Challenge them to keep inviting. There are so many ways to engage with people and invite them. Don’t be afraid to get creative and keep it fun! Show people what the group is all about and what the community looks like! Show them the value there is in joining.
Here are some Ideas to Invite People to Join Your Group:
- Ask people meaningful questions.
- Encourage members to invite friends.
- Use comments.
- Do a Facebook Live Q&A on your Facebook Page about the group.
- Send email invites, text blasts, and valuable resources.
Keep in mind that not everyone you invite will want to join the group right away. Do not let this discourage you. Keep inviting! Some people might get an invitation and forget about it or not take the time to look at it. Keep being consistent and inviting because sometimes it takes a couple times.
Starting and growing a Facebook group does not have to be intimidating. It is a powerful resource that will help you to build a church community without walls. Develop a plan and pray over it. Think through each step and what you want to accomplish. Engage with your community and be consistent. Utilize tools that will help like Outreach Social. Invite people and don’t stop inviting once your group is growing. Be intentional with your invitations and do not get discouraged. And last but not least, have fun with it as you see your Facebook Group thrive and help build up the church.