Like Thy Cyber-Neighbour

A number of our Anglican churches and organisations now have Facebook Pages. However, many of these Pages don’t “Like” any other Pages yet. It is reasonable to assume that this is more about lack of familiarity with the possibilities than a lack of interest in others. However, failing to “Like” risks sending a message of dislike, indifference, or insularity. Such messages are a suboptimal representation of a loving God, to say the least! So what should be done?

Your Facebook Page can’t like groups or people at the time of writing. A Page can only like other Facebook Pages. Which Pages your Page should like will depend a little on your purpose. Just between you and me, my Page at facebook.com/SocialMedia4Faith is a bit of a snob, as Pages go. It only likes the FB Pages of Anglican organisations in Aotearoa and Polynesia. Generally speaking, this is a bad strategy. I’ll explain why.

Like thy Neighbour to Reach Out

A Facebook Page is outward facing, in that it is very available to the public. All people have to do is click “Like”, and your Page becomes a part of their Facebook newsfeed. Therefore your Page lends itself to communication with a wider public than those who fill your pews. People who admire the shape of your church roof against the local skyline may like your Page. People who attended a wedding there twenty years ago may like your Page. People who bought something cool at your church fair may like your Page. This gives you a chance to keep in touch, but only if you use your Facebook presence in such a way that they can find you.

If you’re using Facebook in person mode (in the normal manner) and you spot a Page belonging to someone in your local real-world community, that Page is your cyber-neighbour. Stop and read it. Consider clicking Add to My Page’s Favourites. You’ll find this low down on the left hand column of the Page. Page Favourites and “Likes” by Pages are the same thing.

You also need to know how to use Facebook in Page mode. One way to do this is to go to your Page, and look near the top right for Use Facebook as [NameOfYourPage]. You can then visit Pages you have liked/favourited. All their updates will be showing in your Page’s Home newsfeed, and you can like their posts and comment, all in the name of your Page. You can spot other local pages, and like these pages. Your Page name links to your Page everywhere you use it, creating awareness and an opportunity for people to visit your page.

The more Pages you like, the more your Page’s Home newsfeed with help you to keep a finger on the pulse of the online lives of your local real-world community. You will have opportunities to enthuse and congratulate, to share ideas and information, perhaps even to offer comfort in difficult times. This is outreach, and you may have spotted that outreach usually needs a team. There’s a way to do that, too, but we’ll cover it in another post.

My Page at facebook.com/SocialMedia4Faith can’t do any of this outreach. It has specialised, to help your Page with something else.

A partly woven willow basket.

The stakes reaching up and out from the base of this basket are not enough on their own.

Image by Flickr member, Edinblur. Click link for CC License information.

Like thy Buddies for Strength and Collegial Learning

In the image above, tall stakes reach up and beyond the beginnings of the basket. They show the direction in which the basket can grow, but they are not enough to make this basket functional on their own. The stakes need to be bound together by the waling – the dense weaving that spirals around and between them giving strength, shape and solidity. Your Facebook Page needs strength connections as well as outreach connections in a similar way. Some of these strength connections can be with other Anglican Pages where people are doing similar learning about how to take being church in new directions online.

The “Likes” list on the lower left column of my Page is a resource where you can find other Pages like yours. There are Pages to learn from, Pages whose owners will learn from you, and system-generated pages that only show potential. However, they are all Anglican or in partnership with the Anglican world, and they all have some relevance to our parts of the planet.

A coil of unwoven cane.

The coil of cane on the left is just a resource, not a basket. Most ministry units must seek to be more than a resource.

Image by Flickr member, elithea. Click link to view CC License details.

You can’t make a basket with nothing but waling, and you can’t make a social media outreach with no links that reach out beyond the church. All I’ve made is a resource, ready for you to weave with.

The term Page has been capitalised to indicate that it refers to Facebook Pages specifically, rather than other internet pages which have different attributes.

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About Mary St George

I teach in gifted education, both online and face-to-face.
This entry was posted in Facebook Basics, Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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