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Rethinking Facebook

May 13, 2010 — 4 Comments

It seems that there is starting to be a groundswell of, shall we say, “concern” around the use of Facebook. Most of this has to do with the privacy issues, but I think some of it also has to do with the independent spirit of those on the front edge of the Internet.  Just as a backlash against Microsoft has led to the Linux/Firefox/OpenOffice user, I think we are starting to see a Facebook backlash. No one likes to be told what to do – the Internet was built on open standards and Facebook (just as Microsoft did) is trying to become the standard.

There are a range of reactions to the current situation from the “digital elite”. Some are canceling their accounts. Others giving up and opening up their privacy settings to be as public as possible.  I personally have not taken any action – yet – but I am starting to understand the concerns.

We all will have to make our decisions about what we will do with our personal Facebook accounts. But a bigger question that concerns me much more is how churches and ministries respond. Many ministries (such as Lifechurch) have begun to heavily commit to using Facebook. I am working with two organizations right now who are considering heavy work inside of Facebook.  I, myself, keep this blog as a page on Facebook. But if you do heavily use Facebook, what does that imply? If the “medium is the message”, are we then giving implicit approval to the use of Facebook and its terms of service? And if our use of Facebook encourages people to create accounts and/or begin using Facebook more, should that concern us?

So, will this all blow over?  Just as Facebook was starting to be seen as more important than Google, will its decline begin? What do you think? What will your church or ministry do?

Just wanted to point you to a great article (beginning of a series actually) that ChurchCrunch is posting on how to create a Facebook page for your church or ministry.  This is a very detailed posting that describes the different options and gives you ideas for your page. Read through the comments for more great info!

Also – on a related note – I’ve finally got a real “username” for my Lessons From Babel Facebook page: http://facebook.com/lessonsfrombabel.  Check it out – and if you’re not a fan, what are you waiting for?

When I was at the TIEN 2010 conference in Turkey, I had a chance to hear from David Nolent, who is currently listed as a webmaster and team leader for Knowing God.  The Jesus.net ministry is a network of evangelistic and discipleship sites, including GodRev, TopChretien, and LookingForGod.

At the conference, David’s focus was on the use of Google AdWords and Facebook ads as a ministry tool.  Jesus.net is one of the biggest Google AdWords users and has had tremendous success.  In this post, I just wanted to summarize some of what he shared with us. Remember, this advice is for those looking to pay for ads via the Google or Facebook networks, not necessarily general SEO advice:

  • All ads should be in line with your ministry’s focus and budget. They should be strategic!
  • 94% of Google searches use multiple word phrases, not single words. If you are going to buy ads, focus on multiple word searches.
  • You should take advantage of negative keywords as well, so you can better target your audience without being too general.
  • Use all the tools provided, including: Google Insights for Search (http://google.com/insights), Google Keyword Tool (http://adwords.google.com/select/KeywordToolExternal).
  • Customize your ads by location and by ministry, if applicable.
  • Facebook advertising is a bit more expensive than Google, but it is much easier to target your ads.
  • Facebook requires an image with their ad: make it relevant!
  • Facebook is relationship-based, so your ads should draw people into a relationship. Link to a fan page or something else within Facebook that the user can interact with.
  • When doing these types of ads (Google/Facebook paid ads), you should plan on doing a lot of testing first to see what works!

What is your advice for AdWords or Facebook ads? What has worked for you?