The short answer: yes!
I hear from meetings grappling with this question a lot. Here’s a few things to consider when discerning a social media presence (primarily Facebook). Please note this is about a public Facebook PAGE, not a Facebook group (a different thing).
- For many people, the first introduction to your meeting is an online presence. A social media account allows “unchurched” and new folks to learn about your meeting culture and answer specific questions before they arrive in person.
- 68% of ALL US adults (79% of internet users) use Facebook. It is an overwhelmingly present platform in all areas of social interaction – including a growing number of older adults. (Pew Research – 2016)
- Facebook provides free and low cost advertising for meeting events, and has outreach possibilities into many varied demographics in communities. You can only run a Facebook ad from a PAGE (not a group). See: Facebook Ad Experiments – Emily Provance, New York Yearly Meeting of Friends
- Social Media is designed for sharing – beyond your meetinghouse walls. Each member and attender of your meeting (first time visitors too!) as the ability to share a good experience, an invitation, and other news on their own social media channels easily. Meeting members who are encouraged by your meeting’s worship and events can let their friends know, and not have to wait for an official advertising campaign or other media posting.
- Social media can appeal to different styles of learning. Visual posts, and video links, can be shared and may have an appeal in ways more complicated written text does not.
- Outreach can be to many more people, in may varied places. Many of our meetings and churches seem to be filled with people who are “like us” – social media is often a great outreach equalizer. 79% of people today use social media as their main form of communication (over email, phone, etc). Many of that number use a cell phone to read that news. A Facebook page gives your meeting a chance to outreach to people for whom the Quaker message might deeply resonate – but they might never come across that path by wandering first into a meetinghouse, or being invited by a friend.
- Social media is one of many ways to stay connected to a meeting during an absence. For that Friend who is traveling, or someone who visits your meeting when they are in town – a Facebook page can keep them updated on the ministries and faithful lives of the meeting community, and involve those who are away in conversations.