Harness the power of a friend of a friend to invite neighbors to your congregation this Easter using Facebook. With 1.4 billion users active each month, Facebook users in America alone log a collective 335,000 years per month on the site. Your community has thousands of typical Facebooker users, who each average 20 minutes per day at the site. Even with very little time and a tiny budget, you can make an impact using a Facebook ad.
One church in the Diocese of Georgia with experience in social media advertising is Christ Church Frederica, where Facebook is the foundation of all of their advertising. The Rev. Tom Purdy, Rector of Christ Church, says, “We like to use Facebook because we can target a specific demographic of person, based on age, gender, place of residence, etc. it will even let us enter keywords that a person may have used in a comment or share from another post. So that people reading our posts have already displayed some affinity for our event or our parish.”
The church uses Facebook to advertise special events, concerts, and worship services. One recent example is that Christ Church paid $75 to run their Christmas ad for four days preceding Christmas eve. The ad reached 9,201 people. The video was viewed 4,775 times, with at least half of the video watched 522 times. The video also garnered 140 likes, comments, and shares on Facebook.
Purdy notes, “We did not have a way to measure the impact on attendance as a direct result of the ad, however, we did see an increase of about 100 persons in terms of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day attendance, or about 15% over last year.”
Even $20 could get your Easter services in front of many neighbors who might not otherwise consider joining you for worship this year. Here are the three steps toward starting your congregation’s marketing campaign on Facebook:
1. Update your church’s Website and Facebook Page
Before inviting neighbors to take a look, make sure your online presence is up to date. You don’t want to encourage internet savvy folks in your community to check your church out, only to have them find the 2013 acolyte schedule posted at your website. Make sure that both the Facebook page and website have current information with good directions, current service times, and accurate contact information. Having fewer pages is fine. Just make sure what is present at your website is accurate. If you are not currently doing so, start posting 3-5 new items each week through Lent in order to keep your Facebook page active.
2. Create concise and compelling content to promote
Make your invitation brief and crystal clear. Use an appropriate image with the text to invite your community to worship with you this Easter. In order to assist Episcopal Churches in offering eye-catching content, www.acts8movement.org offers an Ash Wednesday video you can customize and use for free now, and an Easter video will be online February 24. When posting this video on your Facebook page, be very concise:
Celebrate the love of God this Easter at Christ Church.
Join us at 10 am and stay for the Easter egg hunt following our worship.
Join us for a joyful celebration of the Good News
of Jesus’s Resurrection this Easter at 8 and 10 a.m.
Then link this brief text and a photo to a webpage that gives Easter service times and directions, availability of a nursery and other information of interest to a first-time visitor.
3. Boost your post using Facebook’s ad manager
With a Facebook post now online, you can capture more attention with a $20-$50 ad. The advertising part of this is essential. Facebook bases a users feed on the people and sites he or she interacts with most often. Post on your churches Facebook page will only be seen by about 16 percent of the people who like and follow your church page. Advertising allows you to target the People who like your Page, the People who like your Page and their friends, or People you choose through targeting. Targeting is based on location, interests, age and gender. Not sure which to choose? Try a test with a $20 ad to People who like your page and their friends and a second $20 ad targeting people who live near your church.
Make sure to use Facebook’s Ad Manager to boost your post rather than clicking the “Boost Post” link on the post itself. The Ad Manager will give you additional targeting, better statistics, and the ability to make changes to how your ad is targeted while the campaign is underway.
Frank Logue, Canon to the Ordinary