About the Author
Shelby Meyerhoff

Q: Should our congregation set up a page or a group on Facebook?

Answer:

We generally recommend that congregations set up pages if they do not already have an established Facebook presence.

Here are some of the advantages to having a page, as I’ve discovered by managing the UUA’s Facebook page:

1. Pages facilitate the presentation of a clear institutional face and message while also allowing for extensive constituent participation.

The way status messages are now displayed, it’s clear which messages come from the UUA, and which come from fans (and visitors can choose to read one or both types of messages). Fans can respond to existing messages and also start new conversations by posting a fresh message. Fans can also add photos.

2. Fans are reminded when we add new content to our page. Our status messages now appear in fans’ news feeds. In the months since that change has been implemented, there has been a lot of positive engagement with our Facebook page’s status messages (i.e. a lot of visitors/fans are posting comments on our status messages or giving them the “thumbs up.”) I think this change has given pages more of a conversational feel and gives fans more of an incentive to keep returning to our page.

With a page, we can also create related events and invite fans to them, send updates to fans, and link to other UUA pages in our “favorite pages” section.

3. Facebook wants organizations to use pages, so they are likely to continue offering new features for pages that meet the needs of organizations. The same features may not be available for groups.

4. We can choose from many available applications if we want to enhance the functionality available on the UUA’s page. However, on our page, the status messages/wall are the center of action and we don’t make as much use of applications.

That said, groups can also be very helpful, especially when a congregation wants to have a more collaborative Facebook presence. One significant advantage of groups is that you can send messages directly to members’ inboxes. A layleader wrote me a while ago to say that his congregation created both a page and a group, and found groups to be useful in attracting newcomers and more conducive to conversation among members.

In general, I would advise against congregations having both a congregation-wide page and a congregation-wide group, as that duplication of content and conversation could be challenging to manage. However, a congregation may find it helpful to have a page for the congregation as a whole, with groups for different committees within the congregation.

Questions and answers

Unitarian Universalists often e-mail the UUA with questions about how to use particular new media tools to best serve congregations and promote our faith.

I’ll start posting some of the most interesting or commonly-asked questions to this blog, along with answers.

Once the blog has been launched and commenting is enabled, please join the conversation and post your own answers!

Getting started with a Blog

You’re reading a blog right now!

A blog is a website or part of a website that publishes posts written by one or more authors. Posts are displayed in reverse chronological order and readers may be allowed to write comments on posts.

Most blogs that are related to Unitarian Universalism are authored by a single individual. For example, many Unitarian Universalist ministers have blogs that they use for sharing personal reflections as well as news about Unitarian Universalism and their congregation.

While single-author blogs are most common, it is possible to have a successful institutional blog; these usually feature multiple authors writing about related topics.

Here are some examples of Unitarian Universalist congregational blogs: the FUUN Blog by the First Unitarian Universalist Church of Nashville, Tennessee; the UUCSR Writers blog at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Santa Rosa, CA; the Unitarian Universalists of Petaluma blog; the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Lake Norman blog; and the Westside UU Congregation Religious Education blog.

The UUA has launched a new blogging platform and a list of UUA blogs is available at http://www.uua.org/blogs/

If you are a new Unitarian Universalist blogger and would like to find and connect with others, let me suggest two good starting points for finding other Unitarian Universalist blogs.

The first is UUpdates.net, which aggregates posts from hundreds of blogs written by Unitarian Universalists. (If you would like to promote your blog to other Unitarian Universalists, you can submit it for inclusion on UUpdates.net.)

The second is “The Interdependent Web,” a UU World weekly feature highlighting the best of the Unitarian Universalist blogosphere.

To help you get started with your blog, the UUA has developed several how-to resources:

Best Practices for Unitarian Universalist Blogging” is a report based on survey responses from prominent Unitarian Universalist blogs. The bloggers featured write from different perspectives and about different topics in Unitarian Universalism.  The report shares their insights on issues like setting a tone, creating a safe space, respecting confidentiality, and responding to comments.

The other UUA resources for designed especially for bloggers are “How to Set Up a Blog” and “Tips for Unitarian Universalist Beginner Bloggers.”