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Using Facebook ads to promote your church

Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash
Photo by Will Francis on Unsplash

One of the most effective ways to spread the word about your church and its events (whether online or off) is placing ads on Facebook. Businesses and organizations use Facebook advertising to reach new people, and it works. Find out how your church can leverage this relatively easy, proven and inexpensive advertising tactic to reach the nonmembers of your community.

 

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Nearly seven out of every 10 adults use Facebook up to 50 minutes a day. (That statistic was pre-pandemic!) A Facebook ad is the equivalent of holding a sign in front of the largest audience possible to tell them about the work of your church.

Why should you invest in advertising instead of relying on Facebook posts? Frankly, people miss your posts — even the most dedicated followers may not be seeing many of them. An algorithm controls the Facebook newsfeed of all users, determining what posts are seen by whom and in what order. (The greater reaction to a post, the algorithm increasingly feeds it to more users.)

Another advantage is the option to target ads to specific groups of people. Want to grow your youth group? Let local parents know about VBS? Spread the news about a neighborhood event? Grow a new church plant? Facebook ads can help you with all of these goals!

Once you’ve set the ad goal, define the type of ad to place:

  • Image ad (single image with text)
  • Video ad (video with text)
  • Carousel ad (several photos with text)
  • Slideshow ad (photos used to create a video with text)

As your church’s Facebook business administrator, log on and navigate to the ad manager. Follow these eight simple steps to reach your goal and a bigger audience.

  1. Select the Campaigns tab. Pick the Create option.
  2. Choose an ad objective:
    • Brand awareness - Introduce your church to a new audience
    • Reach - Tell as many people as possible about your church/event
    • Traffic - Drive traffic to your church’s website or app
    • Engagement - Encourage your local audience to interact through comments or shares of your post
    • Video views - Encourage people to like your video
  3. Select A/B testing (advanced level) if you’ve designed two ads and want to gauge which performs better to meet your goal.
  4. Set a budget. Choose between a maximum daily spend or an overall lifetime one.
  5. Define the audience. To maximize who sees the ad and how often, pay attention to the level of reach (right side of the ad manager page) as you refine the audience. Select Auto Placement to make the most of your budget. Select the ad campaign date range.
  6. If you manage the Facebook pages of multiple churches, connect the campaign to the church placing the ad. 
  7. Upload the ad media. An image ad, the most popular kind, can feature up to 20% of text on the image. Use the Text Overlay Tool to test whether the image ad passes the test. Use a 1080x1080 graphic, especially if you’ve chosen Auto Placement. If the ad’s call to action is to send people to the church website, set up that tracking.
  8. Confirm and publish the ad! Allow time for Facebook to review and approve it.
  9. Monitor and learn from the campaign’s performance through ad insights. What worked well? What can be improved? Was the amount spent worth the investment (ROI or return on investment)? Ask new people who attended your services or events how they heard about you.

Sometimes, there isn’t a rhyme or reason to why something works (or doesn’t) on Facebook, especially with organic unpaid-for posts. On the other hand, paid placements deepen your understanding of the power of engagement through the data collected in the ad manager. 

Advertising allows the freedom to test different approaches suitable to your unique community. What works for a church in Nashville may not work for one in Miami. Use these basic how-tos to find what works best for your church and your city. Experiment with ads, and watch your audience grow!

 

 


Renee McNeill

With more than 20 years of experience in various media outlets, Renee McNeill has helped brands develop and implement strategies for both internal marketing and public facing campaigns alike. For the past five years, she has used the skills she has acquired not only to help her local church, but also to help those serving in global missions abroad with building awareness. As a senior social media specialist at United Methodist Communications, she loves helping local churches build community on social media, and in her free time serves on global mission trips to Mozambique and Czechia.