What does “Facebook Zero” Mean for Churches?

If you’re an administrator of a Facebook page, you have probably noticed a drop in organic engagement. Facebook’s ever-changing algorithms are steadily declining your content’s organic reach—meaning fewer people are seeing your posts because you’re not paying to “promote” them to those who have liked your page.

An interesting whitepaper was put out by Social@Ogilvy: Facebook Zero: Considering Life After the Demise of Organic Reach. You can download it here. These changes are leaving marketers scrambling to figure out what this means for their advertising budget, but what does this mean for churches?

Organic-Reach-Chart

If you already have a Facebook page set up for your parish (and it’s actively being used to communicate to your parishioners) you could create a closed group and invite everyone who likes your page to become a member. The downside to this is that only approved members within the group can see the posts—which could appear unwelcoming to any visitors. But, members of the group will see the posts in their News Feed, no advertising necessary.

If your parish isn’t terribly invested in Facebook (younger generations are avoiding it anyway), now is a good time to re-evaluate how you’re using the following to communicate news and updates to your parishioners:

  • Email. Being able to directly reach your members in their inbox is an extremely powerful tool. Gather your member’s e-mails, update your databases, and start an email program if you haven’t already. Make sure a staff member who is passionate about communication is in charge of this! A weekly e-mail should be full of useful written and visual content, direct readers to your website for more information, and get members excited about coming to Mass. More on email here.
  • Your Website. I could write all day about how important a church’s website is. Chances are pretty high that a parishioner found your Facebook page by clicking a link on your website. Instead of making them want to leave your site for Facebook, make them want to click on your contact page so they can map out directions to your parish.
  • The Bulletin. If you think your parish bulletin is boring, then it probably is. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make it better. Make it prettier. Make it mean something each week. Yes this could result in a little extra work for your staff, but at least you know more people are going to see your bulletin than your Facebook posts.
  • A Private Social Network. For those who prefer two-way communication tools, there are always private social media options out there. Here’s a list of some private options (but not all of these are free).
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Author:Clare Zajicek

Clare Zajicek is a Catholic wife, mom, and Marketing professional working in the Milwaukee area.
  • Brad West

    Yes, organic reach has become a little more difficult. But it’s not really all about just because Facebook wants us to pay. It’s about not flooding feeds with page posts (which would be super annoying) but also the realization that our posts need some boosts (images and video). Facebook also added in some great new exposure opportunities with mentioning other pages. I’ve seen a huge differecne just by making a few tweaks. Here’s my advice http://catholictechtalk.com/2014/03/29/3-ways-to-boost-your-facebook-page-posts/

    • Clare Zajicek

      Glad to hear you’re seeing improvement! Over time I’ll be interested in seeing what the average organic reach is for each type of page you can create – a business, a company or place, a brand or product, etc. I have a feeling brands will get hit the hardest, which could be great news for churches and communities.

      Either way, we should be making our posts better like you mentioned. I think videos, pictures, and links will definitely do that.