well-facebookThe last two days I have been working hard on transitioning my church, The Well, from a Facebook group to a Facebook Page. There are some subtle differences and some major differences that made me make this decision.

Facebook pages do pretty much everything a group does, but a whole lot more…

  • Status Updates/Twitter for the Org:  in groups, you weren’t able to create a status update so the only time people ever heard from the group after signing up was when you sent e-mails.  It’s now great to be able to send a status update  to the people from my church without having to send out an e-mail.  This is great for prayer requests, links, articles to read, etc.  I connected the status updates from our new group to Twitter but I had to create another account to do so because my personal Facebook account as connected to my personal twitter account.  So, you’ll notice that I now have a “Pastor Hiestand” twitter account using my church e-mail address.  This way, I was able to connect the page to twitter when i was logged in as that account. Update: Apparently groups now do status updates. Even so pages are still better! 🙂
  • Embed our google calendar: I was able to embed our google calendar as a tab using the Google Calendar application.  This is great because the people in my church seem to rarely visit The Well’s website but are on facebook all the time.  Now the calendar is much more accessible.
  • Proper notifications: It seemed that the biggest shortcoming of groups was that there were never any notifications sent out to the members of the group.. ever.  For example, the discussion board was pretty useless because no one ever knew that something was written there.
  • Custom URL: there is a bit of a catch to this, you have to have at least 100 25 fans of a page in order to qualify for a custom url.  But, once you get enough fans you are all set with a custom url.
  • Custom Design: This is the biggest and most important difference between Pages and Groups. More on that below…

Creating a Custom Design for a Facebook Page

What I am going to do here is give a very brief overview of what I did to create The Well’s Welcome page on our Facebook group.  If you know HTML, this shouldn’t be that hard. It also helps if you have a photoediting program like Fireworks for Photoshop to make some pretty images.

Using simple html and inline CSS I was able to create the Welcome page using the FBML application at the bottom of the page’s applications list.  The FBML application basically serves as a simple text editor and allows you to do almost anything you need to create a simple page. FBML is a little different than HTML and has some limitations.  You can find a list of tags that work here.  I use adobe Fireworks so I just created the images you see in the page and sliced them up.  Then I loaded those images onto our church’s webserver and linked to the images via simple image tags. Here is a screenshot of the code in my FBML page.

One of the things you’ll want to do is change the default page for new visitors.  You can click on the “Options” button underneath the “share” button.  From there click settings and change the default landing page.

There is still some work that I need to do on our page.  Right now, all the images in the lower section of the page link to our church website. I think I am going to eventually build pages in the Facebook application that match those (in content at least, not necessarily style) so that the users never have to leave facebook.

If you don’t know html/css, this whole project will be a bit harder, if not impossible.  If you are designer and need some help, feel free to contact me and I’ll help you as I can.

I think its a great idea for churches to begin making sharp and excellent Facebook Pages.  That’s why I’m more than happy to have you hire me to do just that.   I am available to work with anyone that needs a custom facebook page…

When all I said and done, this whole project will take me about 5-10 hours and I’d probably charge about $250-$500 or so for the work.   The price really depends on how complicated the page would need to be.

Contact me if you are interested in having me do some work for you, your org or your business.