What the Latest Facebook Changes Mean for Your Church or Non-Profit

Facebook makes a changeFacebook rolled out another batch of changes last week and announced even more. There has been the usual clamor of complaints and boycott threats from those not happy about the modifications, but let’s face it, Facebook is not going anywhere. So, I recommend a more constructive response:

  1. Learn as much as you can about the most recent changes
  2. Understand how they affect your organization and then
  3. Adjust your Facebook strategy to make the most of them

The New Newsfeed

The changes individual users notice immediately are the changes to the newsfeed.

Gone is the “Top News” with the option to switch to “Most Recent.” Now there are Top Stories and Recent Stories. The Top Stories are things Facebook thinks you might be interested in based on your interaction in the past. The Recent Stories are in chronological order, but they don’t include everything from all your friends. Facebook filters Recent Stories and only gives you what it thinks you’ll want to see.

Introducing the Ticker

For those who want to see all their “friends’” status updates, Facebook has introduced the Ticker, which is a real-time list of everything your friends are doing. It includes everything in Recent Stories plus notices of when your friends add friends, like pages, comment on stories, play Farmville, and more.

In other words, the Ticker is what old Facebook used to be.

It also looks suspiciously like Twitter.

facebook newsfeed and ticker

New Lists = Google+ Circles

The other big change individual users will notice is that Facebook has improved their lists functionality. It functions a lot like circles in Google+. Once a user creates a list, they can not only click to view just the updates from the people on that list, but they can now also publish content that only people on that list can see.

So, you can now create a “family” list and share pictures so only people on that list can see them. Or you can create a “work” list and post links to industry-related news that only your co-workers would be interested instead of bothering everyone with it. You can share content with multiple lists, make it public, or even hide from specific individuals.

facebook post to list

Other Changes

There are a bunch of other new things that are available now like watching TV & movies with your friends, listening to music and seeing what your friends are listening too, and others big changes that are coming soon like the Timeline and Facebook Gestures. But those won’t have much have much impact on churches and non-profits now, and that’s where I want to go next.

Likes Less Important, Engagement Critical

With the changes to individual users newsfeeds, Facebook takes another step towards playing god in what content Facebook users see.

All content is not created equal. No longer can you expect everyone who “likes” your organization’s Facebook page to see everything you post to Facebook. Status updates, photos, videos and links that get “likes” and “comments” have become even more prominent and thus more likely to be seen, while those that do not have become even less prominent and less likely to be seen.

This presents both a challenge and an opportunity for churches, non-profits and businesses. It’s more important than ever that organizations engage people with their content. Those that do will find their content being seen by more people.

Furthermore, every time someone likes or comments on your content, that action shows up in all their friends Tickers. So, engaging content gets double prominence.

If you manage your organization’s Facebook page, every time you post to Facebook you have to ask yourself more than, “What do I want people to know?” You have to ask yourself, “What do I want people to do?” And “How can post this in a way that will invoke a response?”

Relationship Building More Important

If you use Facebook personally, you understand that you engage more with the people you have the best relationships with – your immediate family and close friends. The same is true with organizations. The better your organization builds relationships with its “fans” the more they will “like” and comment on your content. That means doing things like

  • listening and responding to wall posts and comments
  • posting polls and asking for feedback
  • featuring members or customers
  • posting photos and video of your “fans” interacting with your organization offline

Discussion

  1. Which recent changes to Facebook do you think will have the biggest impact on churches and non-profits? Why?
  2. Do you think engagement and relationships on Facebook are more important than ever now?
  3. What are you doing to strengthen relationships and engage more in Facebook?
[Screenshots by Social Media Examiner]

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

9 Responses to “What the Latest Facebook Changes Mean for Your Church or Non-Profit”

  1. Earl Thornton Sep 29, 2011 at 9:53 am

    Great article Paul. I have been recommending that churches set up and actively use a facebook page as part of their media presence. It has especially effective with the capital/stewardship campaigns I am directing.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Sep 29, 2011 at 10:22 am

      Earl, that's great to hear. Are you experiencing good engagement on your FB page? Comments, likes, etc?

  2. Paul, this was a great article. Helped me a lot understand some of the changes to FB. FB is critical to my context: reaching college students, but I hadn't had time to sit down and examine these new changes. Thanks man!
    PS- only 2 more months till Baby Dan comes along:)

    • PaulSteinbrueck Oct 14, 2011 at 12:08 pm

      Hey Dan, great to hear from you! Sorry I didn't see your comment until now. Glad you found the article useful I think a lot of people are in the same boat. It took me quite a few hours to go through all the changes and lots of articles about them. Most people don't have that kind of time, so I'm glad I could help in this way.

      Looking forward to meeting Baby Dan when he/she arrives!

  3. Lyndie Blevins Sep 29, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Thanks for sharing these insights. My fear is that those who control the content will get frustrated with the changes and not stay viable.

    • PaulSteinbrueck Oct 14, 2011 at 12:12 pm

      Lyndie, I'm not sure I understand your concern. Can you clarify? Are you saying you're concerned that the an organization's Facebook administrator will get frustrated with the changes and stop posting updates or engaging people and that will lead to the demise of that organization's Facebook page? If so, I'm somewhat concerned about that too, which is why I wrote this. Hopefully more FB administrators will read this and make the most of the opportunities these changes present.

  4. I haven't taken the time to figure out what the changes to FB have been. Now I realize that people are not going to see my posts on my business page. People rarely commented or liked those posts… so, the 70 or so fans I have now are probably not going to see that stuff anymore. I also realized that since the changes have come, I have not seen any posts from my church's FB page. Are they not posting, or are they not showing up because I don't click "like" when they do post?

    • PaulSteinbrueck Oct 14, 2011 at 12:15 pm

      Warren, I don't think you can say with absolute certainty that people are not going to see your posts on your business page. It is less likely they'll see it if if you don't find ways to engaged with your "fans." But you could make it more likely for them to see your updates if you engage creatively.

      The best way to find out wheter your church is not posting updates or your not seeing them is to go to your church's FB page directly.

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  1. What the Latest Facebook Changes Mean for Your Church or Non-Profit | Kirche 2.0 | Scoop.it - Sep 29, 2011

    [...] What the Latest Facebook Changes Mean for Your Church or Non-Profit ShareFacebook has made a bunch of changes again. Understand how they affect your church, non-profit or business, and discuss strategies to make the most of these opportunities. Source: blog.ourchurch.com [...]