If you’re plugged into the social networking site Facebook at all you’ve probably heard about the recent launch of their developer’s platform. For the uninformed, basically third party companies can now build applications for Facebook that integrate directly with the Facebook system. This isn’t slapping badges onto a MySpace page, this is full-blown interaction with your Facebook friends. Your Facebook friends can now see your Flickr photos, check out your Flixster movie ratings, listen to your Last.fm playlist and interact in new ways.
Bottom line: It’s cool (I go on and on about it on my personal blog).
Don’t believe me? Check out the Cause application and the 125,416 people who have joined the Save Darfur cause, donating $9,517 since May 24 (as of June 11 at 10:21 a.m. CST).
Where’s the Church?
The big question is where is the church on Facebook? Are churches taking advantage of this new community, even if it’s not a formal marketing approach (simply setting up groups and events doesn’t need to happen in an ‘official’ capacity)? This goes back to our discussion of how the church can use MySpace, and a lot of the same principles apply (of course churches need to decide how many social networking sites it’s worthwhile to join).
Build a Church Application
But I think one of the big differences with Facebook comes with this new developer’s platform. Now you can build things to interact with Facebook, and the church should be in this space. There are already applications that add daily Bible verses to your profile, but there could be so much more. And I’m not talking ghettoization of Facebook, but ways for people on Facebook to engage their social network with the church. Facebook is all about the personal connections–the church just needs to find a way to tap into it. Maybe we should forget building another Christian web 2.0 site and just build something that plugs into the 24 million people already on Facebook (or do both).
Testing the Waters
With any new tech development it’s always a question of whether it’s going to live up to the hype. This may very well be another move that fizzles. But who knows? It could explode.
Sometimes you just have to play with it and see what happens. For our part, I set up a new Church Marketing Sucks group on Facebook, as well as a CMS cause you can support (you’ll need a Facebook login for both links, and you’ll need to add the cause application for the second). Both were set up more on a lark than in any official capacity, but it’s fun to see them grow and see people I don’t even know joining up. And that’s exactly the point.
We even have a discusion post in the Facebook group asking this same question.