Facebook knows just how to get me every time. It doesn’t matter which way you look at it, I always seem to be too weak for their Jedi mind tricks. It might be because I’ve google searched web design so many times, but Facebook is constantly barraging me with sponsored ads for products that relate to design work for websites. And I can’t resist. A link that says, “3 Great Uses of User Experience” Click. A website that claims to know what is the best use of typography on websites? Click.
This is just one example of how Facebook ads can help build and maintain an audience. They can also be an inexpensive way for your church to advertise that next big event or sermon series. Here’s a rundown of how they work.
Facebook ads can be used to promote your church page, an event invite, or a particular post on your timeline. By creating a Facebook ad, you essentially pay to have your advertisement appear on the News Feed of your target audience. The cost can range anywhere between $1-$50 depending on the amount of people you want to reach.
Should your church advertise on Facebook? The answer is a resounding “yes!” When you advertise on Facebook, you can reach almost any demographic imaginable, efficiently and effectively.
Now, the gospel did okay before Facebook, and will do just fine without it. But plenty of churches and organizations like mine have found Facebook to be an incredibly useful tool for getting the word out about Jesus and His people. Now however, Facebook is changing in ways that are bringing the pain to brands of all kinds, including churches and Christian organizations. In short, they’re changing their algorithm so that the content posted by pages doesn’t get seen by many fans. You may have assumed that you see 100% of the updates from any page you’ve liked. It hasn’t been that way in years since Facebook’s normal layout shows people what they deem “top stories” as opposed to all the most recent updates from your friends.
Pages have been posting updates that only get seen by 30 to 40% of their fans, at best. More recently that percentage has dropped to 10 to 20%. And it’s eventually going to be 1 or 2%. One of our daily devotional posts used to see about 1,500 eyes and get about 20 to 30 likes. Now one of our devotionals will still get 20 likes but only see 500 eyes, and it’s about to get even worse. Why? It’s simple. Facebook wants brand managers to pay to sponsor or “boost” their posts to be seen by their fans.
Is that fair? It depends on whom you ask. At the end of the day, it’s all up to the people who own the business called Facebook, but most brand managers feel quite cheated right now because they paid Facebook for advertising to help them get fans and now are having to pay again to get their content in front of those fans. Our church has sponsored some content since we’ve been using it, but the posts we don’t sponsor just don’t travel as far as they used to.
While Nike and Nabisco figure out what to do from the perspective of corporate brands with large marketing budgets, my concern is with churches and nonprofits who don’t necessarily see a financial return on their investment (at least not directly from the sales of products or services). Here are 5 amazing solutions for churches to consider.
Now, the gospel did okay before Facebook, and will do just fine without it. But plenty of churches and organizations like mine have found Facebook to be an incredibly useful tool for getting the word out about Jesus and His people.
1. DON’T PUT ALL YOUR EGGS IN FACEBOOK’S BASKET.
This has always been true, but it’s even more true now. Don’t count on any third-party, freely offered service to drive all of your online promotional effort.
2. DIVERSIFY YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE.
For the moment I’m still convinced that Facebook is the most important platform for social media marketing, but that’s only because of the broad demographic of people that use it. If you want to reach every kind of person in your community, Facebook is still the primary place to start.
Having said that, it is definitely time for churches to think about using Instagram to reach people through imagery, especially younger people. Twitter has a pretty active community among media types and leaders, news producers, and professionals. Each offers a different medium for the posting and cross-posting of content. Don’t try to do it all, but do more than just one thing.
3. GIVE MORE POWER TO THE PEOPLE.
What’s the point of having fans to begin with if the goal isn’t ultimately to empower those fans to carry your message further into their own respective friendships and relationships. We tend to think about the reach of our church’s Facebook page, but there is significantly more influence available to the church when you realize how many members (whether dozens or thousands) are engaged in social media. Usually, their credibility is higher with their friends than your church’s brand anyway.
So take the time to educate people about how to share their faith and their church online.
Give some basic how-to articles on using social media via a page on our website dedicated to the cause, such as a post on 10 Ways Anyone Can Use Social Media to Help.
4. SPEND MONEY ON FACEBOOK ADVERTISING.
As agitated as you may be with Facebook’s decision-making process, I still believe that using Facebook’s highly-targeted advertising platform is way more cost effective and has a much higher return on investment than most traditional print advertising models. And, it relates. There’s tremendous power in seeing that my friend liked something that I might also like, and that’s how Facebook ads work. You can get as specific as advertising to single Dads, age 25, within a 5 mile radius of Burton Adventist Academy, who have indicated an interest in basketball.
5. KEEP PREACHING, SERVING, LOVING, AND SHARING THE GOSPEL.
Do I believe social media has value in spreading the gospel? Um, yes. But it’s not about the technology itself. Facebook is a recent invention. Information has been spreading socially since the garden of Eden. So keep doing what we’ve been doing for 2,000 years – sharing Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit, leaving the results to God.