Social Media for Missionaries (Part 1: Facebook)
Blogging, tweeting, posting and sharing are fabulous ways to share about your ministry, but navigating the world of social media and online communication can seem confusing and overwhelming. We’re here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be! Today, you’re reading the first installment of a three-part series on how missionaries can use social media to connect with friends and supporters.
We frequently hear the same questions from missionaries about Facebook, Twitter, blogging, and more, and have compiled some general ideas and suggestions based on these conversations. We understand that there are countless resources for learning about and managing social media; our hope is to simply invite you to discover new ways of using these tools to connect with others and engage your audience more fully in your ministry.
*Please note that we discourage using social media if you are in a security-sensitive area or situation. Always use discretion when choosing what to share publicly.
First off, we’ll discuss the best ways to use Facebook. Let’s get started!
If you’ve spent much time on the internet, you’ve heard of Facebook. Used by over 68 percent of American adults (according to Pew Research Center), this mega social media site is everywhere you look. Besides being full of fun images and entertaining distractions, Facebook can be a valuable tool for connecting with others and involving friends, family, and even supporters in parts of your lives they might otherwise not be aware of.
Here are some ways you can start using Facebook to share, connect, and communicate with your support base.
1) A picture is worth a thousand words
People love photos on Facebook. Sharing pictures is a great way to provide a glimpse into your world and culture. If you have an interesting story or funny anecdote to go with it, even better!
Use Facebook to supplement your other modes of sharing. If you mail monthly newsletters, share them on Facebook. If you blog, share your posts on Facebook. If you send out an email update… you guessed it: share it on Facebook! You do not have to generate completely unique content for every Facebook post; you can use Facebook to notify your followers that there are updates available on your other social media channels, and you might catch the eye of someone who would have otherwise missed it.
3) Link up
Facebook is all about sharing, so do just that. Share links to websites you find interesting. Share blog posts you’ve enjoyed reading or articles you’ve found fascinating. Use your Facebook page to share your giving link, or direct your followers to a website about your ministry or country. Chances are, if you’ve found it interesting, someone else will too!
4) Connect with others in ministry
One of the beautiful things about social media is that it opens doors to new worlds and new connections you might not make otherwise. Find other missionaries, missions agencies, and ministry leaders and start interacting with them. If you meet someone at a retreat or conference, look them up on Facebook and stay in touch!
5) Beware the “over-share”
While it’s great to share a lot of good, appropriate content on Facebook, be careful that you don’t over-share. If you like to post a lot of personal AND missions-related items consider opening a second account or starting a page just for your ministry updates. Facebook is wonderful for sharing all aspects of your life and it can be a lot of fun to share funny stories and cute pictures. However, keeping the focus on your ministry will allow your followers to clearly see those updates and keep your posts from getting lost in the crowd.
6) Be consistent
Set a posting timeframe that works well for you. Whether it’s once a month or twice a day, try to maintain some consistency in how often you post. You certainly do not need to post every day at the exact same time, but maintaining your page with regular updates will keep your friends and supporters coming back often—giving them something to look forward to!
(Tip: If you have trouble remembering to post, set a recurring calendar reminder!)
7) Stay in your comfort zone
If you’re not comfortable or don’t enjoy using Facebook (or Twitter, Instagram, blogging, or any other communication platform) it can become a chore. There is nothing written in stone that says you must use Facebook to communicate with your supporters! Use what you enjoy and are comfortable using—whether that’s one outlet or eight—and forget the rest!
On Facebook, the world is a mouse click away. You are part of a great adventure that your supporters and friends want to know about, and Facebook can be the perfect tool for keeping them involved and engaged.
This is the first of a three-part series. Read part 2 (blogging) and part 3 (FAQs).
4 CommentsLeave a comment
Thank you for this series, I am trying to get some ideas to better my comunication with supportors. Facebook seems to be the best to reach a large crowd, but I also have so many friends here on the mission field who have Facebook that I can´t share a lot.
I have created a secret group page that I only allow Christians (supporters, missionary colleagues, etc.) to be a part of. On that, I can list specific prayer requests. On my regular Facebook page, I show cultural information of Japan (where I serve) as well as family news.
This is a great strategy, John. A private group allows you to be authentic and genuine with a trusted group of people. Keep up the sharing!
Lancy, I had the same concerns about Facebook. I agree with John. An option that I’m looking into is forming one page for the ministry, for our donors and prayer supporters, and another for our friends here on the mission field, to extend our impact on them. Another option, although slightly time-consuming with how slow internet is, is to sort through your contacts and put them into customized lists: One for USA, and one for the field. Then, when you post, you can choose some to share as “Public”, like you mentioned, the ones about the country; some to share with only the States; and some to share with others on the field.