I’ve contacted a few people, where I am able to figure out who administrates a church Facebook page, to say “The virtual pilgrimage is coming your way. Please make sure any posts of support don’t get hidden as spam”. Here are some things I have found out.
- Most of our church pages feel very new to the people who run them.
- There is low confidence about what to post.
- There is lower confidence about what others may post.
- If you know all about hiding and unhiding posts, you can pat yourself on the back. You’re doing really well.
The fearfulness that some stranger will come along and write terrible things on a church wall is holding people back in using Facebook missionally. Many pages are not being shared widely within the flock, and are not being shared beyond the flock at all, because people simply don’t know what to do if something really negative gets posted on the page.
The first thing I want to share is my experience. I have a hand in administrating six Facebook pages and the worst thing ever posted has been unsolicited advertising. Advertising for several quite ordinary commercial activities, and one private garage sale. Now that people do not have to “like” a page to post on it (a recent change) we may see a bit more of that kind of thing. However, my personal profile has seen more rubbish. At the present time, if a friend clicks on a dodgy link that copies itself all around Facebook, the resulting posts seem to land on other people’s personal profiles rather than on pages. Your church wall is very unlikely to be covered in unsavoury material when you come back from holiday, and if you start having negative experiences, there are things you can do.
The day may come when you visit your page and see something that you are not sure how best to respond to. You have choices:
Hovering your mouse over the top right corner of the post that’s making you go “Hmmm” will give you the options shown. First hide the post and take a deep breath. The person who posted will not receive any notification that you have hidden the post, and nor will the general public. You have time to think, pray, or seek advice.
In the case of advertising from someone in your area of outreach, you may well choose to respond just as warmly as you would to a visitor to your church who hands you a business card as a way of keeping in touch. This person may be in business, but mentioning it on your Facebook page or sharing the card may simply be a way of engaging with you that works for them. They are in touch, and that’s a good thing.
In the case of offensive material, you can report it. Select Report as Abuse, which will give you options to describe the problem:
I have only reported an abusive post on my personal profile, but doing so did not remove the post. If you have the same experience, you should now select the remove and ban option (shown in the first image, but worded slightly differently depending on whether a page or a person made the post).
In the case of posts with links that “don’t feel right”, do not click the link to find out. Hide the post. Then Google the words of the post. Most posts linking to phishing scams, malware and so on will be well documented. If the post is definitely dodgy, and comes from a completely unknown person, remove and ban. If the post is dodgy and comes from a member of your faith community, contact them to let them know that the security of their account has been compromised, then remove the post.
If you’re unable to decide, leave the post hidden, but respond to it. Say that you are concerned that it may be malware and ask for more information. The original poster will be able to answer you. If you have no reply within a few days, delete the post.
Rescuing the Good Stuff
Whether or not you have ever hidden a post, you need to check hidden posts from time to time, because Facebook will hide some posts for you, just to be “helpful”. These may include posts from seekers or supporters, and finding them and responding warmly is clearly a good idea.
All you need to do to restore hidden posts to visibility is to click on Hidden posts on the left side of your page, hover your mouse over the top right corner of the post, and select Unhide post.
However, there are also more global settings for hiding and unhiding page posts. Spot the difference in the images below:
Visitors to your page can toggle between the two settings above, but they are unlikely to. As an admin for a missional page offering a virtual welcome to participate, you will probably choose to make sure your visitors see the first option when they first arrive on your page. To do this, go to Edit Page at the top right corner of your Facebook page, then look at the settings shown below:
You will notice other options on this page. If you suddenly have a patch of negative posts, you may choose to disallow user contributions for a few weeks, but please post on your page to explain what has happened, and offer alternative ways of keeping in touch. If we, as a church withdraw the welcome mat, our reasons must be both sound and known.
Next week, I’ll look at page administrators. How many? Show or hide? Post as page or not?