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Facebook and evangelism

Is this our biggest digital opportunity?

After several years of rapid growth, Facebook passed 800 million users in 2011. This represents 1 in 3 of all web users (if you exclude China where Facebook is banned). If we compare Facebook users with country populations, it is the third largest ‘country’ in the world.

USA and UK have long been the #1 and #2 in terms of number of Facebook users. Until recently, highly-wired Turkey was #3, but Indonesia has shot up the rankings and is now third, pushing Turkey to fourth position. The Facebook interface is available in approaching 100 languages with more on the way. Many people spend at least half their online time using Facebook, and this includes people accessing Facebook via mobile phones. Watch this 4-minute video (and related videos offered at the end of this clip) about the social media revolution:

The new ‘web within the Web’

Companies are realizing that Facebook is where many web users spend the majority of their time (as this short story illustrates), and are falling over themselves to develop content which will integrate directly into Facebook, which itself is rapidly rolling out new features to enhance this sort of usability. Expect to see further similar developments in the future as Facebook is almost turning into a standalone ‘web inside the Web’. Increasingly, companies are advertising their Facebook Fan Page rather than their own websites, as the landing page they want people to see first.

Most other social networking sites (with the exception of some national or regional non-English networks) have receded into smaller specialist niches. Bebo and MySpace are struggling. Just as there is only room for one definitive search engine (Google) or one auction/market site (eBay), people gravitate to the one social networking site where they know they can contact almost anyone. However, these guidelines apply to most other social networking sites too.

Why is it so strategic for evangelism?


Opportunities on Facebook

There are two overlapping approaches: incarnational and intentional active outreach. However, what you cannot expect Facebook to be is a linear platform for a message, as this wise explanation from Tom Ehrich shows. If you imagine Facebook to be a ‘pulpit for preaching’, you are wasting your time and likely to upset a lot of people. If you understand it to be a ‘cafe for conversation’, you will be in tune with its heartbeat.

Things to avoid

Learn the system

Posting video clips

One-click sharing of conversation-starting video clips has huge potential. YesHEIs.com offers a growing range of clips in various languages, precisely for this purpose. Global Short Film Network also produces vide shorts that can be used in Facebook, downloaded to mobile phones, or shared in other ways.

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