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Effective Facebook Advertising

How do you let people know about your church events and evangelism activities? Mike Judge introduces us to a simple, cost-effective way of targeting invites to your Holiday Bible Club. But as Mike explains, this technique works for other things too.

Effective Facebook Advertising primary image

Do you know how many people within a five mile radius of your church building have primary school aged children? Facebook probably does.

Do you know how many people aged 60 plus, living in the streets around your church, have an interest in social lunches? Facebook probably does.

Do you know how many men living in your location have already expressed a like for summer barbecues? Facebook probably does.

What’s more, you can cross reference those results to reach people who may have already expressed an interest in the “Bible”, or “Christianity”, or “God”, or “church”. And for as little as £1 per day you can reach these people with a sponsored post on Facebook, advertising your church outreach event, or your toddler group, or whatever else your church is offering.

Connect with others

Facebook sometimes gets a bad press amongst Christians, and for good reason. There’s no denying that some people use Facebook as a place for gossip, or to display their pride, or as an opportunity to vent their hatred. Facebook can be both annoying and extremely addictive. For many people it is a colossal waste of time: those aspects of Facebook should be avoided by any faithful believer.

But Facebook can also be a place to connect with people you may not otherwise reach. Every year for the last 30 years our church has hosted a children’s holiday Bible club for one week in the Summer holidays. This year we decided to see whether we could reach new families through targeted Facebook advertising. But how does it work?
Chorlton's Facebook event
We began by creating an “event” for our holiday Bible club, and posted it to the Facebook Page of our church. We chose a suitable image, one that was eye catching, copyright free, and had no text on it (having no text in your image is important, because Facebook will reduce the frequency of your event being displayed if your image has too much text).

Then we wrote a description of the event, which carried all the relevant information. You can do all of that for free. But unless it goes viral all by itself (unlikely), the only people who will see it are those who are already following your Facebook Page.

However, you can “boost” your post by paying for it to be displayed in other people’s newsfeeds. If you choose to do that, you can specify the type of people you want to reach. We targeted parents with children aged 5-11 who live within 3 miles of the church building.

Flexible campaign budgets

Facebook says you must spend at least £1 a day on your advertising, but I would strongly urge you to spend more than that. We decided to spend £100 over the four weeks immediately preceding our holiday Bible club. Even a church with limited resources could consider that level of spending. The economic reality is, the more you spend the more your ad will be displayed.

What did we get for our money? To date, we have reached over 3,000 people in our local area, and 26 of them have responded by saying they are “going” to or “interested” in our holiday Bible club. The event has been “liked” by 13 people. As you may know, for every person who engages with our event on Facebook, all their friends and family can see that engagement. So we are reaching all of them as well.

One of the great things about Facebook advertising is that you can adjust your spending budget throughout the duration of your campaign. So if things are going well, you can increase the budget, and vice versa. You can also adjust your target audience at any time.

It is also very flexible. You also get access to analytics, so you can see who is responding to your ad. Facebook has lots of helpful pages giving tips to advertisers. Make good use of this information. Follow the advice, and avoid the mistakes which could limit the effectiveness of your ad.

Give it a try

My own advice is, give it a try.

And don’t be put off if your first attempt falls flat on its face. We advertised our Christmas services last year and got hardly any interest. Why? Because we didn’t read the advice from Facebook about avoiding too much text on the image, and because we only spent the minimum amount. This time, with our holiday Bible club, we followed the guidelines for images and we increased our budget.

Targeted Facebook advertising can be an effective tool for reaching people in your local area. But it is just a tool. In the end, only the sovereign work of God is going to bring people to the gospel. Nevertheless God uses means, and those means are very often flawed and fallen. Facebook certainly bears all the hallmarks of this fallen world. It is very often used for bad. But you can use it for good.