8 Hacks for Your Church’s Social Ads

8 Hacks for Your Church’s Social Ads

The majority of churches have social media accounts. Facebook and Instagram are the most popular. And this is to be expected: a social media presence is the next logical step for a church after a website. It makes little sense to have one without the other, since they serve the same purpose: a digital platform for people to be introduced to your ministry and get connected.

Most people will visit your social media pages two or three times before they even see the inside of your sanctuary.

People show up to church because of Facebook posts. However, despite the rich potential of social media ads, churches leaders typically fall into two camps:

The first have no social media strategy to speak of. All they do with their Facebook page is post an announcement or two. They can go months without updating their Facebook page.

The second are aware of the importance of social media and have made efforts to launch a social media strategy. They start by posting more regularly. They vary the posts and focus on the needs of their audience instead of just promoting their own priorities. They even include eye-popping images, catchy text, and maybe even some videos.
All to no avail.

It comes down to a single problem: a failure to create effective, targeted Facebook ads.

The Power of Targeting

No advertising platform in history has offered as much opportunity to target a specific audience as Facebook. Why? Because Facebook knows everything about you—and not just the basics (i.e., gender, religion, family demographics, political persuasion, etc.). Facebook knows your favorite professional sports team, your hobbies, your friends, your friends’ friends, how often you visit your local amusement park, what you recently purchased on Amazon, and the fact that you like spiders.

By collecting your personal information, Facebook can custom-make ads: ads you actually want to see. Zogby Analytics suggests that 40.5 percent of Facebook users would prefer to see ads directed toward their interests (only 16 percent wanted a random selection of ads). And the trends say that a desire for personalization in advertising will only increase in the coming years.

Two out of three Millennials—the prized generation most churches want to reach these days—say they’ll share information about themselves in exchange for personalized offers and discounts from businesses.

Your church gets into Facebook to take your message to people who need to hear it when they need to hear it. Targeting is how you get there.

The Top 8 Hacks

With all the options you have at your disposal through Facebook ad targeting, you’ll find it is both an art and a science. As you strive to be more effective (and more efficient) with your social media ad budget, you’ll need to keep an eye on the numbers. That’s the science part. But you’ll also have plenty of opportunities to show some creativity.

That creativity will help you take your Facebook ads to the next level. These hacks will get you started:

1. Target people who didn’t open a particular email.

Let’s say you’re adding a new ministry at your church, and you want to let everyone know. You send out an email to everyone on your list who may be interested. You can then upload the list of addresses from the emails that weren’t opened and then target those people specifically with Facebook ads. It’ll help you connect with people you’ve missed, and it’ll make for more efficient (and less costly) ads.

2. Post an end-of-the-year giving reminder to everyone who has given over the past year.

Create a custom audience by uploading the email addresses of all your givers. You’ll want to make sure you have at least a couple hundred email addresses to make it work properly. You could even make it more efficient by targeting your top 1,000 givers specifically. It’ll help to ensure your ad reaches the people who need to see it the most.

3. Consider the time of day your ads are most likely to reach your target personas.

Your personas are likely not up and browsing Facebook at all times of the day and night. You can customize when you want your ad to show up. You may have some ads that are relevant 24/7, but most are not. By the way, if you can reasonably expect your ad audience to be similar to those who like your page, the Insights tab of your page admin can give you some powerful information about ideal times to focus your ads. You can see when your Facebook fans are online by clicking on the posts tab. You’ll see both the days and times when they’re online.

4. Target new residents.

Since Facebook allows you to target ads specifically to people who are new to your community, this might be an ad you want to run consistently. New people to the community have always been a prime audience for churches to target. You can define it even more by specifically targeting people who show an interest in church and Christian causes.

5. Send an ad to people who have visited your church in the last six months.

Target people who have either checked in or been tagged on your campus, and exclude people who already like your page or are members of your church (or some other list you have that would allow you to remove people who are already frequent visitors).

6. Use targeting to turn your Facebook likes into email subscribers.

Use Facebook to drive people to your email newsletter list by targeting people who like your Facebook page and excluding those already on the list. As important as Facebook can be to your church’s communications strategy, a Facebook like simply can’t compare to an email subscriber.

7. Specifically target friends of people who are fans of your church.

Facebook not only allows you to target people who like your page, but you can also target their friends. Here’s the best part. If you do this, the person seeing the ad will also see that his or her friend likes your page. It’s like a mini-endorsement. Think of it as a great way to help that person invite their friends to church. Just make sure you only target nearby friends.

8. Match your ads to where people reside within the Community Member Journey.

If you’ve read our ebooks on Content Marketing for Churches and The Definitive Guide to Inbound Marketing for Churches, you’re familiar with the concept of the Community Member Journey, which progressively tracks how people engage with your church. By targeting people based upon where they are in the journey, you’ll get ads that fit their current engagement level. (If someone has never stepped foot inside your church, they don’t need to see an ad for joining a small group. They need to be invited to church!)

You’ll need to delve into custom lists to make this happen. First, decide on the indicators your church will use to determine where people are in the journey. Here are some possibilities:

  • Awareness. Through your Facebook pixel, target people who haven’t visited your church’s website.
  • Attendance. Make a custom audience of people who have attended your church in the last few months but have not taken any other engagement steps.
  • Participation. If your church has a membership class, you can likely pull a list of emails from those who have completed the class. Use that list as a custom audience.
  • Service. Create a custom list of people who serve in some capacity in your church.
  • Advocacy. Create a list of people who have engaged your Facebook content in the past year. They’d be the most likely to share your upcoming content.
  • Leadership. Pull an email list of those in lay leadership positions. Use that as a basis for a custom audience.

It’ll make more strategic sense to specifically target people early in the member journey than later on. Typically, it’s better to target people in later stages through your mobile app. But the above ideas show you have some options with Facebook ads if you want to reinforce a message here or there.

Once you determine the indicators you’ll use to create your Facebook ad target, simply identify ads that encourage people to engage with logical next steps.

A Facebook Page but No Targeted Facebook Ads?

Investing in Facebook ads without taking advantage of targeting is like buying a Ferrari and just using it to charge your smartphone. It’ll do that. But is that really why you buy a Ferrari?
Of course not. You buy the Ferrari to rev your engines on the open road.

Your church gets into Facebook to take your message to people who need to hear it when they need to hear it. Targeting is how you get there.

So jump on in. Take a test drive. The open road awaits.

Blake Adams
Editor at Pushpay

Blake Adams is an editor for the Pushpay blog and former educator. His work has appeared in several publications, including Salvo Magazine, WORLD Magazine, and Mere Orthodoxy. He lives with his wife in Seattle, WA. You can follow him on his blog, Tarrypin.