What’s not to like? The United Methodist Facebook page
If you're one of the 1.28 billion people who log into Facebook daily, you already understand its allure. It’s a great place to stay in touch with friends and family; but it’s also an ideal way to connect with the global United Methodist community through the denomination’s Facebook page.
Facebook's mission, after all, is "to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together." More than a quarter of the world’s population uses Facebook, which is available in 101 languages.
That makes it a natural fit for a church that's both global and connectional. And, in fact, nearly half a million people from 35 countries around the world connect with the denomination via its award-winning Facebook profile.
For United Methodist devotees of Facebook, it’s a go to place for inspirational and informational content, from stories of people living out their faith to ideas for ministry to interesting tidbits about the roots of Methodism. A posted Bible verse will frequently elicit comments such as, “This is exactly what I needed to hear today.”
Most importantly, Facebook is a place for participation and conversation. Followers are encouraged to comment, reminisce, answer questions, share photos, and participate in polls and quizzes. In times of disaster or tragedy, the page often becomes an online prayer wall where followers post prayers and messages of support. Facebook Lite even makes it possible for people to enjoy the Facebook experience who live in developing countries where there are slower network connections.
Like Coca-Cola, the origin of The United Methodist Church Facebook page was fan-based. It was created in 2008 by Steven Adair, a United Methodist college student who wanted his church to have a place in the social space.
“Everybody in college was on it,” said Adair. “It’s where we posted everything.” But when he searched for a page where he could “like” his church, there wasn’t one. He decided to fill that void.
The first thing he recollects posting was a photo album of local churches, including his own church –Glendale United Methodist. The page just “took off by itself,” he recalls.
United Methodist Communications, the church’s global communications agency, dived into Facebook the following year as a means of reaching more people and engaging audiences in conversation ... all in a place where they were already spending time.
But instead of starting a new competing Facebook page, the public relations team at United Methodist Communications asked Adair if they could take over the existing page, which had grown to almost 25,000 fans. He readily agreed.
“It was a welcome phone call,” says Adair. “As the audience grew, it was harder to figure out what to say, so I was happy to give it to UMCom.”
Thus began a relationship that, in the course of time, led Adair to a post-graduation job at United Methodist Communications. That job eventually led to a promotion to another job as a social media specialist responsible for – guess what -- the day-to-day administration of the UMC Facebook page and other social channels.
It’s a rewarding job, he says, to help tell the story of the work of the denomination to millions of people through social media – reaching worldwide. Social media channels provide new opportunities to interface with people inside and outside of the church, create relationships and grow community. Last year, the page had 56 million views and generated over 4.5 million likes, comments, shares and link clicks.
What about you? Are you following The United Methodist Church on Facebook? If not, consider the results of this recent Facebook live poll where fans weighed in on what they like best about the page:
- 70% most enjoy being part of the global UMC community
- 13% take joy in the beautiful photos & videos
- 7% like reading and viewing stories of The UMC changing lives around the world
- 10% appreciate learning more about United Methodist history and beliefs
Poll respondent Ellen Moore summed it up this way: “I love all of it.”
If you’d like to follow The United Methodist Church, go to http://facebook.com/unitedmethodistchurch. While you’re at it, follow the UMC on Twitter at http://twitter.com/umchurch and Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/unitedmethodistchurch/.