Making Facebook Work

I once came off Facebook. I deleted my account, and migrated to a portfolio of other social media providers. Twitter, Google Plus, Tumblr, etc.

But in the end I came back to Facebook.

Facebook is where people are

Younger people may prefer Instagram, shouty people like Twitter, creatives may find their way to Tumblr or Pinterest, but Facebook is still the place where most adults have an active account. 

If you want to network with new church members, gauge the culture of a community, or just know what is going on Facebook is hard to ignore. For ministry it is an invaluable tool and can be life giving and supportive too.

But how you use that tool is important.

Ditch the Feed

Taking inspiration from Google Plus' feature set, Facebook now allows you to control who sees what you post with Friend Lists. But much of the distraction and stress from Facebook comes from what other people post. It may sound heartless but the Unfollow button is your friend. If someone's posts are doing your blood pressure or anxiety levels no good then simply unfollow them. You may even like that person and agree with what they are saying, but you probably don't need the temptation to respond. If you are posting generally on Facebook focus on being light-hearted and unoffensive.

There are times when it is appropriate to post something more significant or political, but there may well be better arenas for that discussion. If you are in ministry you may well find yourself dealing with an argument between a colleague and a family member - and it is not pretty.

Build Groups

Again drawing from Google Plus' structure, Facebook has made Groups far more powerful. They can be public, private or even completely hidden. 

Most people have a range of interests - my Facebook posts would naturally be a mixture of board games, kites, church stuff and music. Instead of inflicting that content on a range of people who have little interest in all these areas it is better to join or build groups.

Building new groups is hard work, it requires regular new posts and sometimes you need to invite other people to join and post content they have shared elsewhere. Some groups are unhealthy - so don't stick around, you are not obligated to be part of any group. 

If Facebook is an important family space (we have migrated to WhatsApp) then why not start a family group and get people to post news and updates there rather than on their timeline?

There are complex controls (and algorithms) that influence what group posts you see in your main feed. Facebook is becoming better at making his transparent, but often when I log on to Facebook I simply flick through groups rather than focusing on my main feed. Doing so makes me more likely to post content that will help that community grow and thrive.

Turn off Notifications

Really. On your phone, on your PC. Social media is not a telephone, and does not require your complete attention 24/7. Treat Facebook like a book or magazine that you choose to pick up at certain times of day.

Start from Scratch

It may seem drastic but I have done it. Deleted my account and started afresh. It gives you the opportunity to regain control over who you connect with, and think intentionally about your privacy settings and who can connect with you.


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