Ever wondered how the Facebook News Feed works? As of 2021, it takes into account millions of factors when determining what appears in front of your parishioners. The four most important factors are still the following:
1. How geographically close or distant they are from the people who are sharing items with their friends
2. Which pages your parishioners have liked and followed in the past
3. What sort of posts they like, share, and comment on regularly
4. The interests of their family and friends
You don’t have a lot of influence over the fourth item on this list, so items one through three are critical. The more ways you can encourage parishioners to like and follow your Facebook page, the larger audience you will have. And the more engaging your posts, the higher your content will appear in your parishioners’ feeds. Likewise, the more you can get parishioners to share, the more often you will reach other people who are geographically close to the parish.
When creating and posting your own content, don’t make it passive. If you’re creating a Facebook event for this year’s spring gala, for instance, make sure you include in the announcement something that your parishioners can respond to. For example, end your event announcement with a question, like “What did you like the most about last year’s gala?” or a request like “Please share!” That way, people respond, and this pushes the event higher in every other follower’s News Feed. You end up with a positive “snowball effect” where a post gets responses, moves higher in every other follower’s News Feed, and the engagement continues. This is why some posts seem to do much better than others. Questions, calls to action, and tagging parishioners are all great ways to increase the visibility of your content.
Likewise, if there’s news that you simply must get out to your followers, activate your most tech-savvy parishioners and ask them to click the share button. This way, you can quickly reach out to various networks of friends and groups within your parish.
One of the greatest assets you have is that you are an enfleshed community. You don’t exist online – you exist primarily in the real world. So, talk about online engagement offline! Very often the most effective thing you can do is have your pastor lead the call to action. If he mentions from the pulpit that there is a special event coming up, and that he is giving everyone a ten-second volunteer opportunity, people will sit up straight and listen. The call to action can be simple: “This event is really important for our parish. I expect everyone to volunteer at least ten seconds of their time. After Mass, please go to our parish Facebook page and share the event details with your friends.” In the end, that is far more effective than scattering leaflets around the neighborhood or renting out a highway billboard for a month!
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Prenger Solutions Group is a specialized Catholic fundraising firm that uses technology to help parishes, schools and dioceses raise more money with fewer headaches. PSG’s fundraising and communications experts have raised more than $450 million for Catholic causes while helping more than 4,000 parishes to engage and inspire their parishioners through social media. Nic is the CEO of Prenger Solutions Group.