Easter weekend is arguably the biggest Sunday out of the year for churches. It is our Super Bowl. And for great reason. We are celebrating the greatest news in the world. Churches know they get two chances a year to see a huge uptick in visitors: Easter and Christmas. This is also a prime time for someone who has been on the fence about attending church for some time to finally give it a chance. Because of this, churches are now tapping into the advertising giant of Facebook to invite people in their community to join them on Easter morning.
Over the past 2-3 weeks, I saw many different Facebook ads from churches inviting me to join them this Easter, but like everyone else, I could only attend one.
So what would make me choose one church over the other?
How can a church make their Facebook Ads worth their investment?
Is it even worth the investment?
Here are 3 things I hope churches would consider when it comes to Facebook Ads:
1. Whatever you do, set a location filter.
I thought this would be a gimme, but as I was scrolling through Facebook, I encountered 2 ads for churches from California and 1 from Texas. By the way, I live in Tennessee. From what I could tell, these churches were inviting the entire country to join them for Easter. I can’t imagine that was the most effective investment for them.
So to make sure this doesn’t happen to you by setting up a location filter in your city and get as specific as you can. Even if I see an ad from a church 25 miles down the road, that is not too relevant to me. You get the most out of your investment by showing the ad to those who are within quick driving distance to your church.
2. Create different ads for different audiences.
The key to any marketing is to make the message as relevant as you can to those who are seeing it, and Facebook allows you to create different audiences so you can show different messages to each. This means you can create an ad that will drive new visitors to a page that has information about your church, so they can get to know more about you. But you can also create an ad that will be shown to your congregation specifically. This way you can create excitement among them about the Easter service, remind them of the new service times, and any other key information you want them to receive. It would also be a great way to ask them who they are bringing with them.
Those are just a few ideas for different messages. You can also get as specific as you want. You could even include a community’s name in the ad and filtering even further by location. When you create an ad with targeted messaging, it will help you cut through the clutter of messages those you hope to reach are already seeing.
3. Facebook Ads can never replace a personal invitation.
Facebook ads are great for awareness, but visitors don’t show up solely because of them. People visit churches most often because of a real, personal invitation. So if you are going to invest money in Facebook ads, I would challenge you to spend just as much time investing in your people to be inviting and investing in their neighbors and co-workers.
As I kept seeing these ads pop up, I couldn’t help but think that churches might feel like they have they found the silver bullet solution to inviting their community to join them on Sundays. But you can’t just post a Facebook Ad and call if evangelism. True evangelism and life change happens in the context of friendships, not just being friends on Facebook, and especially not from seeing an ad from a church they have never heard of before.
So yes, Facebook ads are a great resource for churches and can help us with creating awareness about our church within the community, but let’s remember that our people are our greatest resource, and we are called to make disciples, not just Facebook ads.
Chandler Vannoy is the Brand Manager for LifeWay Leadership. He is a graduate of the University of Tennessee and is now pursuing his Masters of Divinity at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He loves the NBA, C.S Lewis, and good coffee.