facebookLast week I posted a video about integrating social media in our ministries. One great way to do this is using facebook. I’m still a noob at using facebook specifically for ministry related stuff, but I thought I’d explain the differences between groups and pages and how you want to use both.

First of all, you probably want to use both. Both have different functions. Groups have been around longer and of someone has experience with only one, it’s probably groups. However, most people are using groups to do things where they probably should use pages. Let me explain.

Groups can be big or small, but they’re mostly suited around connecting people around ideas, thoughts or specific people. The discussion boards, photos, links and allow for great connection, discussion and collaboration. I’ve used groups for book discussions, a biggest loser group and for a Children’s Ministry collaboration group. The real advantage of the groups is your ability to control access and obscurity. I’m in some groups that are open to anyone, other groups that are close and you have to be approved to join. I’m also in an obscure group that no one can see except the people in the group. This is the primary advantage of groups. The disadvantage to groups is obscurity. You can join a bunch of groups and completely forget you’re in them unless the administrator sends everyone a message.

Pages are just like groups with a few unique features. People don’t join pages, they become fans. There aren’t any limitations either, anyone can join. Pages have access to discussion boards, wall posts and photos just like groups, so the experience can be similar. The idea behind pages though is that they are not designed to be obscure. They’re for everyone to see and intended to be viral. When an admin post on the wall, it shows up in every fan’s feed. So one update can be seen by every fan and every friend of every fan. That’s a huge impact. Pages were designed to be marketed too. A few months ago, facebook opened up vanity URLs. That’s when I snagged www.facebook.com/kennyconley. They also allowed pages with more than 1000 followers to get their vanity urls. Check out www.facebook.com/starbucks or www.facebook.com/mcdonalds. Oh, and when it comes to pages, you can advertise. For instance, you could advertise to age demographics for communities and such. Doing a big outreach event? Create a facebook page and advertise.

So, if your church has a presence on facebook, you want to use both. You might use groups to communicate with volunteers or certain ministries where you can share schedules, training and these kinds of things. However, your church needs a page. Your student and children’s minsitry needs a page. As you post updates, friends of your fans see learn about you and potentially become fans as well. Who knows, maybe they’ll come visit physically eventually because of what they experienced on facebook. Also, if you get enough fans, you could grab a vanity url and have the address: www.facebook.com/yourchurch.

So, go start some groups and pages people!