How to Improve Your Church’s Facebook Page, Part 1: Identity
You already know that a Facebook page is a must for ministry today. In fact, for some portion of your community, your Facebook Page may be their first point of contact. But there are so many options and so much flexibility that your page can easily become cluttered. Your ultimate success in online ministry will depend on the quality of your posts and the relationships you build through engagement and interaction. However, giving your page itself some love can only improve its effectiveness. This is the first in a 3-part series on improving your ministry’s Facebook page. Be sure to check out the whole series and subscribe to the Defining Grace email list in the blue box at the bottom of this post to have these tips delivered right to your inbox!
An important early step in developing a relationship online is making sure people are clear about whose page/posts they are seeing and engaging. Let’s begin with the basics that help your community discover and recognize your ministry on Facebook.
1. Page Title
Your Page Title might seem like a no-brainer. It’s just the name of your church, right? However, there are a few issues to take into consideration:
Is it recognizable?
Does your Page Title include denominational affiliation? Acronyms? City or town names? Or even the word “church” at all? Donald Miller likes to say, “If you confuse, you’ll lose.” People can only connect the experience they’re having with your church if they know it’s you. Choose a name that clearly identifies your organization to people who encounter you on Facebook.
Is it searchable?
People in your community are as likely to search for a church near them on Facebook as they are on Google. This is why you should consider including your city or town name in your Page Title—even if you don’t have a common name like First United Methodist Church. Including your address on your About Page is the most important step (see below), but featuring the city or town name in your Page Title will help it stand out among search results. This is especially true for pages that represent an individual campus of a multi-site church.
Is it too long?
While the current trend among church plants is to have short names, like Embrace Church, your church may have a really long name. And if you have a denominational identifier in your church’s name, it may be unwieldy before you even begin to think about adding a city name to your Page Title. Many long-titled denominations use acronyms, like UMC or PCUSA, but I wouldn’t count on Facebook recognizing those acronyms when someone is searching for a church of a specific denomination. Also, when people tag your church in a post, it will use the entire Page Title. Unlike with tagging people, you cannot delete individual words/names to shorten it and still keep the tag. In cases like this, long Page Titles can get awkward. Should you need to or choose to leave your city name and/or denominational affiliation out of your Page Title, you can use information fields on your About Page to appear in relevant search results. We will dig into the About Page more in Part 3, but for now:
- Use the Address field to specify your location.
- Use the Categories field to identify your Page with up to three tags.
- Available tags include Church, Religious Center, Religious Organization, and many denominations.
How to edit your Page Title and Categories:
To edit your Page Title and Categories, go to your About Page by clicking on “About” in the column on the left. Then click on “Edit Page Info” in the top right of the About Page. In the box that appears, edit the Name and Categories fields. Click “Save Changes” when you are finished.
How to add your address to your Page:
To add your address, go to your About Page and click on “Edit Page Info” as you did when you edited your Page Title and Categories. Click on the “Location” tab at the top of the box that appears. Check the box next to “Has a street address” and enter your church’s address. Click “Save Changes” when you are finished.
2. Custom Page URL
The Page URL is the web address of your Facebook Page. This may be an aspect of your Facebook Page that you haven’t given much thought, but once you start printing it on bulletins and fliers or try to tell someone how to find your page on Facebook, you’ll see why this step is important.
Is it memorable?
When you initially create your page, Facebook assigns a URL that utilizes your Page Title and the Page ID, which is a long string of numbers. For example, the original address for my podcast’s Facebook page was http://www.facebook.com/art-of-the-sermon-661761413958994 While people can find your page by searching or clicking on one of your posts in their Newsfeed, having an address that looks nice and is easy to remember will be much more effective in the long run.
Can you match your other social profiles?
If you can coordinate addresses across social networks (ex. Facebook.com/ArtOfTheSermon and Instagram.com/ArtOfTheSermon), it makes it easier for people to find you. Try out Namecheckr.com to see whether the name you want to use is available on the major social networks.
How to change your Page URL:
Once you decide upon the name you wish to use, head to the About Page and edit the Username field. Click “Create Username” after entering your new Username. What you enter here will become the new ending for your Facebook Page URL. For example, the Username “bestchurchever” would produce a Page URL of Facebook.com/bestchurchever. Your Username can have up to 50 characters, using only letters, numbers, and/or a period.
3. Cover Photo (or Video)
Your Cover Photo is the first thing people see when they arrive. It sets the tone for your page, so think about what message and/or imagery you most want people to encounter. For proper image sizes, check out this post from CoSchedule. Here are some common approaches:
Sermon, Series, or Event
I have written elsewhere about why this may not be the best approach, especially if you’re thinking about new visitors. However, if preaching is a large part of your church’s culture, or if there is a major event or religious holiday coming up, it can work. Embrace Church Trinity United Methodist Church Gainesville
What It Is Like To Be Here
An image showing what your worship service looks like or a photo of people from your church might help a visitor gauge whether you are the kind of church they are looking for. Chapel Roswell Trinity United Methodist Church Denver
Send a Message
Whether it is a word of welcome, a core value of your community, or a Bible verse, you can use this space to engage the visitor directly. Journey Church Hillsong Church Tuckston United Methodist Church
Facebook is beginning to roll out the ability to use video instead of a photo. As with all videos on Facebook, it plays initially without sound, but sound can be turned on with a click or tap. The video can be 20-90 seconds long, and the recommended video size is at least 820 x 312. As with Cover Photos, Facebook will crop videos that are not the proper size. To see examples of Cover Videos, check out Saddleback Church, City Hope Church, and Elevation Church.
How to change your Cover Photo:
Hover over your current Cover Photo and click on the “Change Cover” button in the top left. You will be able to upload a new photo or video, select from previously uploaded photos or videos, reposition your current photo or video, or remove your current Cover. Click “Save” when you are finished.
4. Profile Image
As with your Page Title, your Profile Image shows up alongside almost every action you take on Facebook. These two elements are what Facebook users will see the most, meaning they offer the best opportunity to build familiarity.
Will people recognize it?
Choose something simple and bold that people can recognize and remember, even at a glance. Using a unique color or color combination is also effective. If you have a great church logo, this is the place to showcase it. And be sure to keep your Profile Image consistent, as frequently changing it works against the recognition you should be trying to build.
Does it work at all sizes?
Keep detail to a minimum, as the Profile Image shows up in all different sizes—from a large square on your Facebook page to a tiny square beside comments on a mobile device. Be sure you consider what it will look like at all sizes. If, for example, your building photo is still recognizable at a small size, then go for it. But if the brick sanctuary turns into a reddish-brown blob, you may want to choose something else. Again, for proper image sizes, check out this post from CoSchedule.
How to edit your Profile Image:
Click on the camera icon in the bottom right corner of your current Profile Image. You will be able to upload a new photo, select from previously uploaded photos, take a new photo, or remove your current Profile Image. Your profile image will display as a square. You will either need to design a square image, or Facebook will allow you to select a square-shaped portion of the image you have selected. Click “Save” when you are finished.
Have questions? Need help? I offer coaching for ministry leaders and organizations in online communication and social media. Use the contact form at the bottom of the page to reach out if you’re interested!