Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Four Faces of Facebook, Each Awaiting Your Pro-Life Smile

Does Facebook frighten you? I know many pro-life advocates who hesitate to use Facebook. They have legitimate concerns about security, privacy, and maturity—not wanting just anybody to post just any comment about their organization. But meanwhile, by not participating in Facebook, they miss significant opportunities to reach a broader audience with their life-affirming message.

Fortunately, Facebook has many faces, one of which may suit your style even if the others do not. If your organization has a website, consider taking at least the first step suggested below. As you gain more experience and confidence in social media, follow suit with the remaining steps at your own pace.

1. Let Facebook Users “Like” and “Share” Your Website Content
Still afraid of joining Facebook? This first step is easy. You can add “Like” and “Share” buttons to your existing website, without even joining Facebook. Then people who visit your website and are Facebook members can, at the click of a button, refer their Facebook friends—usually hundreds of people—to your wesbite content. Those friends, in turn, may refer their friends, resulting in thousands of potential new visitors to your website. Look, for example, at this pro-life article, “How a Christian Child’s Love Won Jane Roe’s Heart.” Notice the Facebook sharing button at the top, and the buttons for Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and other social media at the bottom.

2. Establish a Facebook Causes.com Account
The next logical step for your organization might be to open a Facebook Causes account. You’ll need someone who is a Facebook user to visit http://apps.facebook.com/causes/help and follow the instructions to create a Causes page. The Facebook cause can be used to broadcast messages to the cause’s Facebook followers and to raise funds for your organization. See, for example, the Lutherans for Life cause.

3. Establish a Facebook Fan Page, with a Like Box on Your Website
For this step, a Facebook user creates a new page, formats the page to suit the organization’s needs, and then recruits Facebook friends to become the organization’s Facebook followers, also called fans. The organization can then post information updates to those followers through that page. The organization’s website also can include a like box (formerly called a fan box), such as this one, to recruit more followers:

4. Allow Users to Comment on the Facebook Fan Page
This last step requires the most courage. Consider carefully the pros and cons:
  • Advantages: On the one hand, allowing users to comment on your organization’s Facebook page makes your organization more visible. Fans will be more likely to return to the fan page if it is interactive. When a fan posts something to your fan page, then their friends will receive a status update communicating the post, thereby attracting new fans.
  • Disadvantages: Someone might post something unfriendly, which would be unfortunate for new visitors to see when they come to your organization’s fan page. Fortunately, Facebook does have some automated filters that prevent obscene comments from appearing.
Facebook is an extremely powerful social networking tool, and with power comes responsibility. Thankfully, Facebook has many faces, allowing users to opt in, or opt out, for various features.

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