An Interim Pastor developing a social media marketing campaign to expand the church’s community profile in the community may want to “dislike” Facebook.

Facebook has decided to monetize its pages by charging business – and I presume churches and ministries – to “promote” their posts to their fans.

Background: Facebook as a social media marketing tool

Facebook has a neat feature called “Like Pages.” They connect products (e.g., Coca Cola), businesses (e.g., Caterpillar), non-profit groups (e.g., Free Grace Alliance or Grace Evangelical Society) and even churches (e.g., Willow Creek) to “fans” – people who follow what’s on the Like Page. They are a good tool for the Interim Pastor. They expand the church’s communication system at no cost.

(We have a Facebook Page that we’re trying to build. Click over there and hit the “Like” button for us!)

Like Pages are great social media marketing tools. They allow an Interim Pastor to easily advertise to the church’s Facebook users. When the Like Page is updated the new information is broadcast to all the page’s fans. It shows up on their home page. Since the number of a page’s fans is unlimited this is a great way of letting people know about your church – at no cost!

Like pages can be customized to allow specialized content, e-mail collection (aka “lead capture”) and even sales activity. Want to sell tickets to the Left Handed Korean War Veterans’ Annual Charity Ball? You can do it with a little creativity on a Facebook Like Page. Again, at no cost.

An Interim Pastor will appreciate that last bit, particularly those who serve as Transition Pastors in the more intensive situations. There’s usually not much money to work with. There’s even less to put toward advertising and marketing. So Facebook pages should be in every Interim Pastor’s tool box!

Bad news: Facebook wants to start charging

Facebook to charge for pagesA recent article in the Wall Street Journal reveals Facebook’s plans to start charging for a once free service. Their plans to monetize this service complicates the social media marketing initiatives for many a small business and ministry.

Under a program rolled out in May, businesses pay Facebook Inc. anywhere from $5 to hundreds of dollars to promote a post to the news feeds of users who have “liked” their page, plus Facebook friends of those users. The price depends on how many users a business wants to reach.

According to Facebook, the average business post reaches 16% of its fans. That sounds fishy since updates are broadcast to all of that page’s fans. Perhaps I’m quibbling over definition here. Maybe they define “reach” as a fan clicking a link on their home page that takes them to the updated Like Page.

In any event, Facebook claims this new promotion program will increase that reach.

The revenue potential for Facebook is huge. The WSJ article gives a sense of the numbers involved.

A July survey of 400 U.S. businesses with between $5 million and $50 million in annual revenue found that 77% spend a quarter or more of their marketing efforts on social media. Slightly fewer, 73%, said they have added social-media management to the duties of at least one employee in recent years.

Not chump change, is it? These fees will probably put Facebook Pages out of the reach of small non-profits. That includes the typical church that calls an Interim Pastor.

So, before you spend time or effort on a Facebook Like Page, the wise course of action is to sit and see how this shakes out.

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