Rosenberg asks what Iâ€™ve been saying to church orgs for quite some time (before Facebook, I was asking same questions every time the organizations would put out PR like â€œweâ€™re listeningâ€ or do â€œfocus groupsâ€.
The web itself is the original social network. Why would you ask reporters to connect with your readers on Facebook if you arenâ€™t already encouraging them to do the same thing in the comments on your own website? If your comments have become a free-fire zone, why donâ€™t you do something about it? If youâ€™ve hired a â€œsocial media manager,â€ great â€” but why didnâ€™t you hire people to manage your own comments space?
It also seems likely that so many â€œgo out and set up shop on Facebookâ€ because of a lack of actually prioritizing the â€œSocial Webâ€ in the first place. Now that thereâ€™s this â€œlet the experts do it for usâ€ example in Facebook, the rush to set up â€œour pageâ€ and â€œbe thereâ€ where all those cars are driving through that one huge boulevard, why not put up our own billboard? Thatâ€™s a problem in itself when it comes to church organizations. We arenâ€™t exactly setting a â€œbrandâ€ out there for â€œexposureâ€ in competition with other companies and organizations. We claim to be about the â€œcommunityâ€, and offering something that comes as a result of gathering, contemplating, sharing our lives with each other. And Facebook doesnâ€™t really give us specific enough â€œsocial spacesâ€ for our kind of community. it doesnâ€™t know about categories of concerns that make churches and theological communities unique. Facebookâ€™s â€œSocial Graphâ€ can do no real analysis for us, other than as a generic â€œcontainerâ€ of â€œdiscussionâ€ that can just as easily contain ANY discussions about anything. And then all of that happens in THEIR â€œSILOâ€. They donâ€™t know how to do any specialized theological â€œlinkingâ€ or what to do with the knowledge that certain people LIKE this and LIKE THAT.
The point of the Rosenberg piece is that organizations (in his case, news organizations) need to have been doing this already. Facebook is not going to make them automatically adept at being online community leaders. Putting all this on Facebookâ€™s turf only outsources what should be the churchâ€™s domain. Iâ€™ve heard specialists tell a church organization that they looked at the â€œFacebook offeringsâ€ of that organization and that it looked like it had been set up and then â€œleft to its own devicesâ€. This matches what was in the Rosenberg piece. And my experience thus far on Facebook is that church folks are not really shy about using their real names along with rancorous debate. And so weâ€™re back to what it takes from us. Weâ€™re back to what we invest in it just as we expect from Sunday School teachers. We expect more than just a classroom to meet in.