An inspiring concert is coming up at your church. You're planning a winter festival or a summer music camp. These are prime ways to introduce your congregation to people who may be looking for a church home. How do you spread the word? Just as importantly, how do you do so without overspending? Facebook lets you reach large numbers of people quickly.
Here are 10 tips for promoting your event on Facebook.
1. Create a page. Before you promote your event on Facebook, your church must have a Facebook page. If you are unsure about how to create a page, ask a member for help. Facebook also provides step-by-step instructions. The tabs on this website offer great tips. Make sure several people on staff and in the congregation have access to your church's Facebook page. Then encourage all of your congregants to "like" the church on Facebook. Consider this process the same as acquiring subscribers for a publication. These Facebook friends can be your mouthpieces in cyberspace.
2. Create a Facebook event. Make your upcoming concert a Facebook event. It's simple to do. From your Facebook page, click on Events (on the left-hand navigation bar). Now choose Create an Event from the top. You'll be prompted for each piece of information needed. Make sure to make the event public. Check out Facebook's event instructions page for additional tips.
3. Share the event — and share it again. One of the most important steps is to ask your Facebook congregants to share the event. This is precisely the way an event goes viral. With as few as 25 congregants promoting the event, you have the potential to reach almost 10,000 people very rapidly.
4. Include a photo or video clip of the event. Anything graphic will make the event seem more appealing. Don't have a photo of the musical group? Find clip art of stylized musical notes online and use it. Is it a children's festival? Post some close-up shots of happy kids. (If they are children from the congregation, be sure you have their parents' permission to use the photos. Otherwise, use stock photos.)
5. Consider whether to show "who's coming" to the event. Does your church have a group of seasoned Facebook friends who are diligent about indicating they're attending? If not, you may end up with only two or three individuals who respond, while actually many more are coming. Few responses may make your event sound boring.
6. Comment, comment, comment. Ask congregants not only to share the event, but also to comment about it in their status updates. Postings and updates occur so frequently on Facebook that it's necessary to share repeatedly.
7. Make social media a formal part of your church communications strategy. Identify congregants who are regularly on Facebook. Make sure you have diverse ages, occupations, schools and neighborhoods represented. Create a process where, with one email, you trigger them to like and share church events.
8. Remind the Facebook community of your event. So much happens so rapidly on Facebook that your event can easily be buried under other posts. Ask your Facebook congregants to post event reminders. Suggest updates, such as "2 weeks until our Good Friday concert" or "I reserved my place in the summer music camp. Did you?" Keep the tone conversational - one friend reminding another of a choice event.
9. Be sure to follow up. Once the event has ended, have the Facebook congregants post pictures from the event or comments about how great it was. This may not get people in the door, but it will certainly plant a seed about the life and liveliness of your church.
10. Decide whether to advertise. If you have even a small budget for the event, you may draw more people through Facebook advertising. In an ad, you can target the gender, age, geographic area and interests of people on Facebook. This could help you reach parents of young children, for instance, with advertising for your Easter-egg hunt. You might also want to revisit the following MyCom articles:
As you plan Facebook promotions, another helpful resource is the website socialmediaexaminer.com.
Remember, Facebook doesn't replace the good old-fashioned banner in the front lawn — or the information on the church sign. Social media enhances traditional marketing and reaches new audiences.