As Diane Worten commented in response to the Interconnections article on Facebook and other new media tools, “Why use these when a church already has a website that is accessible via the Internet?”
The short answer is that Facebook has a large userbase and facilitates the viral spread of information among those users. There are several ways that Facebook encourages people to spread page content (including information posted on congregational Facebook pages!):
- Facebook delivers information directly to your page fans through the “News Feed” feature, rather than relying on people to remember and visit your page on a regular basis. When fans of your congregation’s page login to Facebook, they see a “News Feed” which includes content posted by their friends and also recent content posted by your congregation.
- Facebook also delivers information about your page to people who aren’t fans, but whose friends are. Users can see when their friends interact with your page. They might think “I didn’t know Sam went to church! I’m going to click on that link and find out more!” (or something like that).
- A fan of your congregation’s Facebook page can easily share content posted on that page with their other Facebook friends, by clicking the “share” button found underneath posts on a page wall. As Facebook describes it, “When your fans interact with your Facebook Page, stories linking to your Page can go to their friends via News Feed. As these friends interact with your Page, News Feed keeps driving word-of-mouth to a wider circle of friends.”
Because of Facebook so successfully promotes the widespread sharing of content, a congregation can significantly benefit from having a presence on Facebook, even if the congregation already has a website (as most Unitarian Universalist congregations do).