Facebook was created as a way to socialize with friends and family, but sometimes it turns into a place filled with negativity and bullying.
This doesn’t mean the social network isn’t a great place for your church members to connect and to connect with potential members too. You just have to be prepared for the nastiness.
Creating a strategy now will help your church handle the worst Facebook has to offer. Don’t let a few naysayers stop your church from enjoying socializing online.
Understand What Facebook Offers
Your first step is to understand your options for managing your church’s Facebook page. You’re not just at the mercy of negative people and Internet trolls. When the comments get out of control or someone’s posting highly inappropriate content to your page, you have options. Facebook provides a list of tips for managing communications on your page, such as:
- Limiting the types of content users can post
- Limiting who can interact on your page
- Hide/delete comments
- Ban/block users
In a perfect world, you’d never have to worry about this, but sadly, nothing’s perfect. When you’re using Facebook, you have to know what tools you have available for keeping your church’s page more positive.
Deciding When To Interact
You’ll sometimes have nasty comments that make valid points. For instance, someone going through a tough time in their life may leave a rather nasty comment about your latest scripture post. Instead of just writing them off, you might start discussing the issue to better understand them. Hopefully, they’ll respond in kind.
It’s difficult to know when to interact, when to ignore and when to block the comment. A few guidelines to keep in mind include:
- Allow disagreements as long as they don’t turn threatening or profane
- Hide more negative disagreements to keep them between the commenter and the page admin(s)
- Delete any comments that are threatening, profane, slanderous or in any other way inappropriate (if it’s not appropriate for kids, it’s not appropriate for your church’s Facebook page)
- Ban and/or report any users who continue to troll or spam your page
Address Critics Respectfully
As hard as it might be, stop and think before you lash out at nasty critics. Not everyone understands the value of faith and church. But, part of being a church leader is remembering to seek first to understand and then to try and find a way to rectify the problem. It’s true that you won’t always be able to fix the issue, but at least you’ll reach out with love and compassion.
Thom S. Rainer provides an insightful list of guidelines for addressing any critics on your page respectfully. Even if they don’t seem to respect you or your church, you can still be respectful towards them. The last thing you want your members to see is their church leader acting like a teenager that didn’t get their way.
Create A Policy For Handling Comments
Finally, you need to create a solid policy for handling comments on your church’s Facebook page. Without a clear policy, anyone managing the page is going to have kneejerk reactions. This may make members and other Facebook users afraid to even attempt to comment.
Before letting anyone manage your page, train as a team on what types of comments are valid. For instance, teach potential admins what the difference between a constructive and inappropriate disagreement is. Show them examples of what types of comments would lead to banning or blocking a user.
You should also share your Facebook policy with your members. Sadly, some of the nasty comments won’t always come from outside your church. Members who didn’t get their way about a new change in the church may lash out online. Make it clear what’s acceptable and what’s not.
Remember that Facebook is a must for your church, but you can also engage members on your church’s website. Contact us today to find out how to make your site more engaging.