Facebook Ads for Your Church

Facebook Ads for Your Church

November 24, 2010 by

Let’s face it, you need to tell people about your church. As much as we’d all like to think our church is the exception to the rule, it’s not. In order to get people coming in, you have to get the word out.

Traditionally, church planters and church marketing departments have gone about using the traditional methods to get the word out about their services. Sometimes they work. Sometimes they don’t. Truth be told, there’s no real way of knowing. (How do you measure the ROI of a direct mailer aside from asking every person who comes to your church how they found out?)

I realize I’m over-simplifying general marketing practices, but it’s for a point. With the advent of Facebook ads, churches have an affordable and measurable way to let the general population know about what’s going on in their church.

You’ve all heard the statistics. So have I. But they bear repeating to illustrate what we’re about to cover.

  • Facebook has over 500 million registered users. If it were a country, that number would put Facebook as the third largest in the world.
  • There are over 200 million active daily users. what’s the difference from the stat above? It means that 200 million people are logging on every day to do something on Facebook. Think of it as the difference between your church’s membership role (registered users) and weekly attendance (active daily users).
  • Each of those 200 million daily users are spending and average of 56 minutes per day on Facebook.
  • Lastly, Facebook accounts for approximately 21% of page views on the web. Yes, the whole Internet.

That’s a lot of eyeballs.

You can see why Facebook ads is such a big deal. Mark Zuckerberg and company offer one of the largest global audiences to their user base and they offer it at an affordable rate. And you can try it for free. Stick around to the end for a discount code.

Facebook Ads at Church: A Case Study
For our church, we wanted to test the waters with Facebook ads by promoting our Saturday night service. It’s traditionally one of the lower-attended services and typically brings in a younger crowd. A perfect demographic to give the ads a try.

Here’s how we did it:

1. Log on to Facebook.com/Ads
You’re given the option to start a new campaign or manage a new one. Since we’d never created an ad for our church, I chose to create a new one.

The other thing you should know is that you can add as many administrators to your advertising page as you’d like. So if you create the ad and move away to Budapest, your church is not beholden to come to you every time they need a change made to the ad page. Before you start out, you may want to choose one or two other people on staff who can help you manage your ads. This is not unlike administering a Facebook fan page.

2. Write Your Copy

Clear and concise copy. Don't make people guess.

This might be the most important part of the ad. You need to communicate a strong, inviting and clear message all within a space smaller than a tweet (135 characters.)

If you’re not a writer, grab someone on your staff or in your church who is. Identify what the message is you want to communicate to the people who will be seeing your ad (we’ll cover that in the next section) and make it pop. If studies are correct, you’ll have about 2-3 seconds to grab someone’s attention. That’s it.

For our ad, I chose a very simple and clear call-to-action:

Grab a friend for 5 pm worship on Saturday night!

I chose the words “friend” and “Saturday night” strategically, as we’ll be broadcasting this ad to people who aren’t currently connected to our church’s Facebook fan page.

3. Choose Your Demographic

Set the parameters and see how many people you'll reach.

This is where the functionality of Facebook ads really shines through. This is where you’ll be deciding who sees your ad and who doesn’t.

Because of the large user base, Facebook has access to literally every demographic you can think of:

  • Geography
  • Age
  • Gender
  • Education level
  • Marital status
  • What fan pages and groups the person is or is not connected to
  • And on, and on

We chose to narrow ours down to people who lived within 50 miles of West Des Moines (where Hope is located), who were between the ages of 18 and 45, and whose friends were already connected to our church’s Facebook fan page. Facebook provides a “reach counter” and with these parameters, we had access to over 190,000 people.

Not a bad reach.

4. Set Your Budget and Tweak as Necessary

CPM and CPC. Click the question mark if you get confused.

This functionality is why I love Facebook ads so much. Not unlike AdWords, Facebook allows you to set your budget to whatever you’d like to pay. You can do this in two ways:

  • Pay for impressions (CPM) – This is how many people actually see your ad.
  • Pay for clicks (CPC) – This is how many people actually click on your ad and go to wherever it is your ad directs them to.

I chose CPC for this ad because I want to gauge the effectiveness of my ad and tweak as necessary. I have our ad sending people to our Facebook fan page when they click it. I’ll know at the end of the ad campaign if we’re effective if “likes” go up on our fan page and if more people attend our Saturday night service. It’s that simple.

Of course, as the campaign proceeds, I can tweak the ad as necessary. If I’m finding that people aren’t responding well to the ad, I can change the image, the copy, the demographic I have it restricted to—whatever. Changing an ad midstream is as easy as creating one. Facebook really makes it simple.

Final Thoughts on Facebook Ads
If you’re in a church that has a small budget for marketing, you need to give Facebook ads a try.

If you’re in a church that has plenty of exposure locally but you want to expand the reach of your online campus, you need to give Facebook ads a try.

If you’re in a church that’s trying to reach people with a pulse, you need to give Facebook ads a try. Notice a theme?

If you give this a shot and run into problems, please feel free to get a hold of me and I’ll do what I can to help. Whether you’re a Facebook beginner or a seasoned pro, Facebook has made it easy to let the world (yes, world) know about what your church is up to.

$50 in Free Advertising
Now that you know how to do it, give it a try. For free. You can score $50 in free Facebook advertising using the code “WebFree50”. It expires Dec. 31, 2010, so you’ll want to get started today.

After you create an ad and enter a credit card number for the account you’ll have an opportunity to enter the coupon code. Update: The coupon code isn’t working for everybody. So far it seems the coupon code only works for new Facebook ads users, but even some of them have had problems. So be warned: Free things don’t last.

Post By:

Justin Wise

Justin Wise lives in West Des Moines, Iowa, with his wife and son. He likes coffee, reading, running and blogging.
Read more posts by | Want to write for us?

21 Responses to “Facebook Ads for Your Church”

  • Steve
    November 24, 2010

    Great advice for churches Justin, thanks for sharing this resource.

    I’ve been experimenting with Facebook advertising for my church too, including our Saturday service.

    I’ve also run 4 ads to promote our upcoming carols service. 3 of them got no clicks, 1 of them attracted a large number of clicks!

    Can you work out which one and why? http://bit.ly/ge4qkb

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    • Justin Wise
      November 29, 2010

      Thanks for the kind words, Steve.

      I’m going to guess #3 go all your clicks … Yes? I’m guessing people like clicking on JOY more than they do the faces of people.

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  • Tom Jamieson
    November 24, 2010

    Great post! Thanks for sharing the “how-to” of Facebook ads. I’m looking forward to using this for our church!

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  • Jessica Gerlach
    November 24, 2010

    Thanks for a great article! I tried the coupon code though and facebook wouldn’t accept it. Any suggestions where to find other fb advertising coupons?

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    • Justin Wise
      November 29, 2010

      Jessica … We are having issues with the coupon. Sorry about that. It seems to only be able to work for accounts that are less than two weeks old.

      Glad you found the article useful, though!

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  • Kevin D. Hendricks
    November 24, 2010

    Jessica: Sorry about that. I used the code last week and it worked fine. Not sure where else to find those coupons, that was the first one I’ve come across.

    Has anyone else tried this code?

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    • Steve
      November 25, 2010

      I tried the code too, but no luck for me either :(

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  • Mixtapes
    November 25, 2010

    This code is not working for me either. Can someone fix this?

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    • Justin Wise
      November 29, 2010

      Mixtapes … Hey there. Glad you found the article useful!

      I’ve done some checking and it seems the coupon will work with FB accounts that are less than two weeks old. I’m guessing you probably don’t fit into that category :)

      Sorry for the miscommunication! Peace.

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  • GreatHosts
    November 25, 2010

    this coupon will only work for New Accounts ( Not Older than Two weeks ).

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  • paul carr
    November 30, 2010

    Coupon code didn’t work. Yes, it was a new first time account.
    any other ideas?

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  • Kelli Munn
    December 2, 2010

    Thanks for the post. I love the flexibility of working with FB ads. I worked on an event campaign recently (for Christian nonprofit) and found CPM worked much better for us. All markets are different but in my area (university town) unless I bid higher than the FB recommendation for CPC the ads barely ran. When I switched to CPM it started getting exposure and we got clicks. You use up your budget faster but you can’t beat the impressions.

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  • Steve
    December 3, 2010

    After running a set of ads to promote our carols event for a week, I found that one ad got all the clicks. I then optimised that ad, created three different versions of it, and ran the campaign again. More interesting results! Check out the details here.

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  • John
    December 9, 2010

    I just used the coupon and it worked for me. Thanks for the great information.

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  • Michael
    December 11, 2010

    Every medium has its place in a well-thought-out strategy. Even direct mail. The problem with most direct mail is not the medium or its ability to be measure results (which it can), it is the message. What has diminished the effectiveness of church marketing over the last decade is that fact that churches, in a conversation era, cling to an attractional model rather than do what they alone could pioneer so well: conversational, incarnational mission.

    If that basic adjustment was made, and with the right imagination and creativity, a complete and integrated media strategy would be exponentially effective.

    Direct mail specifically (integrated WITH social media) can be one effective component in a total withreach strategy. It only stands to reason that a withreach model would work 100% better than an attractional posture in a conversation era. What postcards can do that social media can never do is put a colorful, well-designed message in the hands of virtually everyone in the city. Then it is up to the ad message to follow through on that (hopefully) well-thought-out, integrated withreach strategy.


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  • All Saints Indy
    December 21, 2010

    Coupon worked for us, probably because we’ve never tried advertising on facebook before. Thanks for the advice! We’ll see how it goes.

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  • I’m still considering creating a Facebook acct. for my church. We’re so busy with YouTube videos and our blog, which has a worldwide audience. http://www.clcomar.blogspot.com I would need help maintaining a Facebook pg. and many in our small church (120 members) just aren’t into social networking. Any words of wisdom?

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  • Steve
    February 9, 2011

    To help keep churches thinking about this opportunity, I’ve just written a post – ’10 reasons your church should advertise on Facebook’.

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  • Steve
    February 13, 2011

    …and a follow-up – ‘10 common mistakes in Facebook advertising‘.

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