11 Steps to Outstanding Facebook Campaigns for Churches with Ryan Wakefield

Facebook campaigns for churches turn out to be the single most effective marketing tool based on a survey from Church Marketers FB group. To make the most of Facebook campaigns we asked the founder of the group and the founder of Church Marketing University Ryan Wakefield to share the most important steps to make your FB campaign as effective as possible.

1. Get ready to measure your results

If you’re going to spend $100 on Facebook ads, how are you going to know if those will work for you? You need to know what to change or see what worked, what didn’t, and then you can adjust accordingly. I always love for a church to start with how we are going to measure the results? One of the things that, I am a big proponent of inside the Church Marketing University, is a clear call to action. One specific one.

Let’s look at kids preregistration. We might run a Facebook ad targeting young mothers within 10 miles of our church and the call to action is to go ahead and preregister your kids for Sunday. Now you’ve got a strategic process, you’ve got a plan in place, you’ve niched down into a group that you’re really targeting geographically. Now it makes sense and you can really see if it worked? How many people preregistered their kids or, or not? And then you can tweak accordingly. So that’s from start to finish what I’d recommend.

2. Find the right audience to target

There are different ways that you could go about that. One is just based on interests. Facebook’s going to give you a lot of different categories. People may be interested in other Facebook pages or some general categories. You will also be able to choose demographics so you can target 22 to 35-year-old females and then you can do some more creative things. So let’s say you have a list with first name, last name, email or phone number of ladies involved in your women’s ministry. You can upload that to Facebook and create a look like audience based on the people who already go to our church.

You can also go more in depth and try to utilize FB pixel. For example, you can post an article on your church blog that will target young moms. 10 free places your kids will love and then put your church’s pixel. That will enable you to create an audience based on this blog post that you can later use when it comes to Mother’s Day or your women’s events.

3. Promote different events

One of the things that we can promote easily are the big events like Easter or Christmas. There are still other once that are underutilized when it comes to creating campaigns and getting more people coming to visit a church. Mother’s Day for a lot of churches is the third biggest Sunday of the year. You can still go beyond the big once like Christmas, Easter Mother’s Day and do something creative. Think about your back to school in the fall which is pretty typical, but a lot of churches don’t pay attention to when they’re considering paid traffic.

4. Target those you can serve well

We really need to think about who our church is best equipped to reach. That’s going to be your lowest cost to reach on social media because those people naturally gravitate to your brand. Let’s say your church is best equipped to reach young families, moms and dads with young kids and that’s how my whole model is set up. That will be your cheapest social media campaign and the one that’s most effective when you’ll be targeting those young families. So for churches, instead of thinking targeting the entire city or their entire region, think first, who is our brand setup to resonate with a who are the people who love your church the most?

This point can go back to a lookalike audience which can help you. When you go after that niche market you can get them to your brand that’s already compelling in that niche market. You’ve got something going for you. I think that outside hose major events, really focusing in on your brand, and your niche market is your best way to go.

5. Identify your heroes

Maybe there were some other campaigns that had other goals and they were very effective? One of my favorite techniques is to let the market tell you what works first before you put any money behind it. So when you have a post that for whatever reason just resonates with a niche audience or with your whole church, with your community, you get a lot of likes, comments, shares, without spending any money whatsoever there’s something about that post. In the marketing world, we call those heroes.

It’s to your advantage to drive targeted traffic to that hero. Anytime you have a post that has a lot of social proof on it, your advertising typically works so much better. If you have a post about an upcoming event coming up at the church and that event already has 50 people who like it, it has 15 comments and people were saying things like “Oh I can’t wait” or “This is going to be awesome” and they’re tagging their friends with comments like “Hey, this is what I was inviting you to”. This is gold, this is resonating, this is ready. It’s going to be money well spent. Then try to find other people like those people who it’s resonating with and drive them to that piece of content because you already know the content works.

6. Get social proof

Something that can be really applicable for churches when it comes to social proof would be, again, let’s take like Easter’s coming up and you post a video from your pastor about Easter. Then you want to drive paid traffic, but don’t start there quite yet. What you’re going to do is you’re going to email out your entire church and say “Hey, the video just went live on Facebook. Here’s the link. Go like it, comment, share it. Help us spread the word by inviting your friends to Easter”.

If you’ve got an email list of any size then you are going to see a lot of social proof probably pretty quickly. We could do that and I call this “smashing the silos” anywhere else where you have influence, text messaging, Facebook group, in your service email. Anywhere where you have an audience that then you can drive traffic to a post to create your social proof and now drive paid traffic to it.

That’s a strategy that’s worked really well for us because then the other thing that you’ll see is because Facebook does such a good job of connections in and around the community where you have all that social proof. When you start driving paid traffic, you will have people in your city say “Hey Bob, do you go to this church?” because they see that Bob likes us and Bob comments. Then Bob says, “Yeah, why don’t you come, we’d love to have you”. It works so much better than just trying to force it on a post that has nothing going for it.

7. Don’t underestimate the power of social media and be prepared for the unexpected

When we started Summit Park Church, we met at a community center and we were still trying to get the word out that we are in town but we were new. So we thought that we could rent out the water park that was next to the community center! Have some free food, have some families, and have a fun what we called free night at the waterpark.

So we started putting some money towards it on social media. This was a couple years ago. And Twitter was a little bit bigger than we were thinking. We were just starting out so we thought we could have a couple hundred people and that would be great. Long story short, when we started about an hour out, we already had a line, hundreds of people lining up for the food and then another hundred of people lining up for the waterpark and it also went huge on social media and Twitter. It was one of those things that went viral in our community.

The city had never maxed out the property and we maxed it out with our little church event because of social media. We had to start turning people away but then we had people jumping the fences to get into the waterpark. It was a PR nightmare. It had gone horribly. Horribly right and horribly wrong all at the same time. It could have been one of those events that met a need in our community and was targeted those young families. We just wanted to hang out with people in our community and it just went crazy on social media.

Don’t do exactly that. But if you can do something similar where you’re meeting a need and you’re providing an opportunity and mean that type of stuff plays well on social media because people are going to start inviting people to it let’s go do this.

8. Be strategic about your call to action

You need to be strategic about your call to action and that call to action needs to be measurable, trackable, and it needs to give you the starting point of your connection and relationship with the person in your community. Whether that’s kids preregistration or download our a series on marriage and relationships or download this pdf on where kids eat free or whatever it is, you need to have something that you can measure. We can see if it was successful and we can at least start a relationship with these people that go through the campaign.

You don’t want to throw money. And a lot of times churches, especially when they start they see the boost button is right there and they use it. You’ve got this event coming up. Nobody’s liking our posts about our women’s Friday. It feels it makes sense to boost for $50. In some cases that may work, but more times than not, unfortunately, you may just be throwing your $50 away. You need to think through that call to action and then see where the social proof goes. Let the market tell you if this is working. And then put the fuel on that fire. Those are the two main things. I think if you really honed in there you’ll at least have a good start.

9. Target your audience geographically

I like to geographically limit my page on social media. I’ve seen churches situations when I interacted with a church in California because they put up a funny video and next thing I’m getting ads for that church. It shouldn’t matter if I like their content when I’m states away.

You need to be strategic about geographically limiting your action. Then you’re not throwing money away. Probably 95% of the time that it makes sense to really focus on people within 20 miles of our church. Most churches would know that what it is going to be for them so that at least will keep you from just paying money to target people across the world that aren’t coming to Sunday no matter what.

10. Get a right landing page for your campaign

That’s going to be really dependent on the church and then what they’re trying to do. If your website is well done and it’s geared towards visitors and you know your website in general converts when people visit the website. More times than not, they come away with a good impression about the church and desire to visit and they’ve taken probably an action step towards building a relationship with us. You need to send them to you. Send them to your homepage if it’s that effective. At least you know people are going to convert.

You can also get more strategic. If you’re targeting a niche like young moms and you can send them directly to that kid’s preregistration page or maybe your kids’ page that has a video from your kids’ pastor and it’s got some pictures where they can see the kids area and it looks like little Johnny’s going to be safe. Then place the kid preregistration button right there,

That will provide the highest likelihood that they’re going to say that they want to start a relationship with your church. It begins by completing your call to action.

For a lot of churches if they would just have a well-done website that would do the job.  It is likely the majority of churches out there don’t have the time or the expertise to get cute with a whole bunch of landing pages like the business world does. If we just put our time, money and energy to get a website that is well thought out and has calls to actions throughout the website then your Facebook ads and your social media ads drive them to that best place on their website. That’s the easiest for most churches.

11. Maximize Messenger bots

Right now, we’re seeing another trend and these are the bots (and we could talk about them the whole day). Facebook messenger is a big trend because it circumvents the need to maybe get an email or phone number. You can send them right to Messenger to help them take the next step. It’s so easy to go right from the ad to Messenger and there are campaigns that the call the action goes straight to the message the church. We’re seeing more and more businesses and hopefully, churches try it out.