The Facebook Camera Effects platform was recently launched on the heels of the much-hyped F8 developers conference. As Facebook continues to expand, churches can expect more and more ways to engage with their community through the Facebook platform. It can definitely seem overwhelming at times to try and keep up with the new features, placements, and shear amount of original content it takes to have any organic reach on Facebook. However, to look on the bright side, one of the most influential organizations in the world continues to create free platforms and features that churches can easily take advantage of to engage the people who follow their page, and to mobilize their congregation to reach their community through Facebook.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook is well-aware of and seems to value the way that churches are connecting with people through their platform. After watching multiple F8 keynotes, in which the heads of Facebook blew all of our minds with the oncoming future of mixed reality, AR, VR, and even typing with your mind (yes, really), I noticed that there were multiple examples or mentions of churches or religious ministries who were utilizing these new Facebook features. Plus, if you didn’t hear about this from a few months ago, Mark Zuckerberg himself sat down with a group of pastors in Waco, Texas for his “Year of Traveling” initiative to talk about how they are using the platform with their churches. So, it’s nice to know that arguably the most influential platform in the world is listening to and acknowledging how churches use the platform.
Facebook Camera Effects For Churches
One of the fun, new features that Facebook announced at F8 was the Facebook Camera Effects platform. Facebook recently added a Facebook Stories feature to their mobile app that is very similar to Instagram Stories, and yes, Snapchat. The Camera Effects Platform includes two Studios. One is the Frames Studio, which is open to everyone right now, and the other is the AR Studio, which is currently application only. If you are familiar with Snapchat, this should all be familiar to you. Frames are the 2d frames that overlay on top of the camera when you take a picture or video. The AR Studio is what makes the nifty AR effects that everyone first grew to love on Snapchat, but that are now available on Facebook as well.
For this article, I’m going to quickly go over how easy it is for churches to take advantage of the Frames Studio, and what use cases a church has for these frames.
How to Make a Frame for Your Church
Anyone can make a frame right now through the Frames Studio. Also, it’s super easy, but unfortunately for non-artists like me, making a frame requires at least a bit of artistic acumen. I used Canva for a quick workaround for my first frame, but will probably try to outsource some original artwork for my next one.
Head to the Camera Effects Platform.
Click on Create a Frame.
Upload your Art Assets. Facebook recommends saving each element as a separate .png with a transparent background. Orient the elements so that they appear they way you want them to on the previews on the right. I’m still toying with different Frame ideas, so the landscape version doesn’t look as good as I want for this one, but for my next one, I’ll try to optimize for both landscape and portrait screen orientation.
Also, it’s worth noting that the Frame that is pictured was disapproved my first try, because of the CV Outreach logo. So, the final, approved Frame is actually just the cityscape at the bottom. I’ve seen some logos make it through the approval process, but only if they don’t “look” like logos. *see the “Hard Working Americans” Face Overlay further down the page.
This is where it gets really rad. Name your Frame, and then choose who the Effect is by. The Effect can be by you (your personal Facebook profile), or it can be by any page you manage. What’s the difference? Well, if the Effect is by you, the Frame will be visible to your personal Facebook friends. If the Effect is by your Page, it will be visible to the people who like your Facebook Page. So, you’ll probably want to make the Effect by your Church’s Facebook Page. You can also set a specific location that people have to be in to see your Frame. This is just like how Snapchat shows some of their Geofilters. You could make the Frame available to people within a certain radius of your church, or you could leave it set to anyone in any location. It’s up to you. Also, you can set a start and end date, as well as tag certain keywords to help people find your Frame.
Review your Frame.
You’ll get one last chance to preview what your Frame looks like in both screen orientations before you submit.
Submit for Review.
It’s worth noting that once you submit your Frame for review to Facebook, you won’t be able to change the name, artwork, or the Page or Profile that owns it. Facebook will tell you that it takes up to a week for the review process.
Frame Ideas for Churches
There are a lot of ways that churches can utilize Frames. Remember, it’s just a new, fun way to engage with the people who like your church Page. Here are a few ideas that churches might be able to implement.
1.) An Ongoing Church Frame – Obviously, the first place to start would be to make a Frame that is available to anyone who likes your church page, who lives anywhere and set it to run indefinitely. This is an easy way to get your feet wet with Frames. For the design, try to keep it fun. Is there something unique at your church, or in your town that you can put in the Frame? Keep in mind, when people see your Frame, they’ll see that it was made by your Church Page. So, you don’t necessarily need to put your logo in there, like I did.
2.) Face Overlays (i.e. hats, facial hair, glasses) – This one could be really fun, but obviously, might require the approval of your Lead Pastor. Do certain people on staff have unique attributes? Does your Pastor have a big goatee? Does your worship leader wear a hip fedora hat? Does your teaching pastor have spiky gray hair? Make a Frame that allows people to make themselves look like one of your pastoral staff members, and add text like “Pastor xxx rocks!”.
Also, I’m referencing making a 2D overlay, not the fancy, animated overlays that are also available. Those are built in the AR Studio. Most churches probably won’t have the capabilities right now to build a fully animated, AR face overlay, even though those are super fun!
Here’s a 2D example for you. This is a Face overlay Frame from a band that I like. The glasses and hat are what the lead singer has worn for years, and anyone who follows this band immediately recognizes that. It’s fun to make yourself look like recognizable figures!
3.) A Sermon Series Frame – A sermon series Frame could be a fun way to engage your congregation with the current sermon series. For this one, you might consider making it available exclusively for people who’s location is at or near the church, and obviously, you would set a start and end date. Bonus points for any Lead Pastor who wants to stand on the stage and have everyone pull out the phones and use the Frame during the service!
4.) A Special Event Frame – You could make a Frame for your VBS or other event. Be sure to set a start and end date. You could also make a Frame for a Mission Trip your church takes to a specific location. Remember, you can make the Frame available to people in areas outside of your hometown. So, if your church is taking a Mission Trip to a city in a different country or state, just make the Frame available in that city. This type of exclusive access to the Frame is one of the fun parts of Frames, IMHO. I vividly remember being on a trip to Los Angeles with a bunch of teenagers when Snapchat had first come out, and all they did all day was walk around trying to “access” certain geo-located Snapchat filters. Exclusivity breeds engagement.
Has Your Church Tried Frames Yet?
At its core, Facebook is a massive opportunity to engage with people, and Frames is an innovative, new way to do that. Plus, it’s FREE! We’re excited to see how churches utilize this new feature. Let us know what other Frames ideas you have. Or, if your church makes a Frame that’s available to people from any location, comment with the Page that “owns” it. We’ll like your Page, so that we can see your Frames handiwork show up in our Facebook Camera!