For years, churches have utilized print advertising through newspaper ads and direct mailing, and many have branched out into TV and radio advertising as well. But now, we can reach even more people, and do it with far less money by leveraging the power of Facebook ads.

The online presence of churches has become critical in the past several months due to the pandemic. For church leaders, this means that many are learning the complexities of online ministry for the first time. While it is great to see people finding your church online on social media sites, it can also be frustrating when you are posting great content hoping to create engagement, and then no one sees your posts.

When you realize that Facebook has over 2.45 billion monthly active users, you understand how much of an impact you can have with the Gospel. Ministries and churches have the unique opportunity to advance the most important message in the world, and one way you can do that is by leveraging Facebook ads.

So how do you get started as a church?

Setting Up Your Facebook Ads Account

Tithe.ly has a great post sharing step by step instructions for setting up your church’s ad account on Facebook. One thing to remember is that Facebook is constantly improving and tweaking the user interface, so things will change and may look different.

In September of 2020, Facebook launched the new Business Suite, which consolidates messaging, insights, and advertising for both Facebook and Instagram into one easy to use website and app. You can read more about this new tool to help manage your Facebook and Instagram accounts on Facebook’s Business site.  

Although you can do basic advertising from the Business Suite, for the more advanced options you will need to learn Facebook Ads Manager. Once you have your account setup, let’s talk about how we actually start advertising.

Developing a Facebook Advertising Strategy

For the church I pastor, we made the decision in 2019 to shift all newspaper advertising to digital advertising on Facebook. We felt that the money would be better spent and we would be able to reach more people. I’m glad we made the shift, and we are continuing to learn and experiment to find out what works best for our church in our community.

It is helpful to stop and think about what you want to accomplish before you start spending money. Here are some questions you need to ask before starting.

  • Who do we want to reach? Church attendees or people in the community? Or a combination of both?
  • How can we create engagement and start a conversation instead of just sharing posts about upcoming events?
  • What do we want people to do? Like our Facebook Page? Go to our website? Signup for an event? Leave a comment or message us?
  • What is our budget?
  • Who will be responsible to create ads?

Once you answer these questions, then you are ready to start coming up with your strategy. In her book From Social Media to Social Ministry, Nona Jones, Head of Faith-Based Partnerships for Facebook shares, 

While a social media plan primarily focuses on sharing content to get likes, comments, and shares, a social ministry strategy focuses on building relationships and facilitating connections between and among people so that discipleship can happen. Relationships are the foundation for discipleship.”

So think about advertising as a way to build relationships and facilitate connections between your church and your community.

#1 – Boosting a Post

Boosting a post is one of the quickest ways to jump into the world of Facebook Advertising, and it can be very effective. I recommend taking a post on your church’s Facebook Page that is already getting likes and comments. To boost a post, simply choose the “Boost Post” button in the lower right area below a post. You can then choose your audience, budget, duration, and payment method.

#2 – Creating Custom Audiences for Facebook Ads

The power of Facebook advertising lies in the ability to customize your audience. You can target people based on demographic information, location, what they like and follow on Facebook, and more. For instance, you probably want to advertise a children’s event to families with young children who live in your community. Use the Facebook Help website to your advantage, because advertising can get complicated very quickly. In this Facebook lesson, you can learn more about creating custom audiences.

#3 – Custom Facebook Ads

This is where you use the Business Suite or the Ads Manager to actually create an ad. You can use images or videos, and you can choose what to promote through your ad. You may want to consider custom ads for your major events, for your special services, and to reach people in your community who do not yet know about your church.

Brady Shearer from Pro Church Tools has several excellent videos about Facebook Advertising that will help you understand how effective ads can be, even with a small budget. 

#4 – Advanced Targeting

To really unlock the power of Facebook advertising, you will need to learn about using the Facebook Pixel. Once you create your tracking pixel, you can install it on your church website. This will allow you to retarget people who have visited your church website or who have signed up for events on your website. Not only that, you can create lookalike audiences that are similar to the people who visit your website. The possibilities are endless, but you will need to take things slowly and get help when needed because set up can get complicated. 

Finally

The best way to learn is one step at a time. Take things slowly, and use YouTube and Google to help you find the answers. Even better, find a local business owner or advertising specialist that can teach you how to better utilize Facebook ads.

When people visit in person or online, be sure to ask how they found out about you. You’ll be surprised at how many say they found you on Facebook.

Links and Resources

Below is a list of articles we’ve published in the past on this topic:

5 Things to Keep You From Wasting Money on Facebook Ads

Facebook Ads for Your Church Event Outreach

Social Media Quick Guide: Facebook

Social Media Policies for Churches