As the number of brands and organizations using Facebook to communicate with their audiences continues to increase, the reach of individual pages continues to decline. In 2012, the average page could expect to reach around 15% of their audience with any given post. By 2016, organic reach dropped to just 2% of people who like the page.
Think about that. For every 100 people who like your page, as few as two people will see the announcement about your big event that you’re about to post. Fortunately, for the pages that I manage, reach has been higher — between 5% and 10% of our total audience size — but we’re still only reaching a tiny portion of our audience.
Because it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach their audiences with their content, many marketers are turning to paying for reach via Facebook’s ad platform, including boosting posts to get important updates into their followers’ news feeds.
You, too, can take advantage of Facebook’s ad platform to reach your church audience, and you don’t need to break the bank to do it.
Here are six low-cost ways to reach your audience and grow your ministry with Facebook ads.
Attract first-time guests
110 people move into my metro area every day. If national statistics are to be believed, two-thirds of them identify as Christian. That’s 75 people a day who need to be connected to a local church.
Using an ongoing Facebook campaign to target new movers with an interest in Christian churches, you can help your new neighbors get connected to a local church for as little as a dollar a day.
Be careful, though. We don’t want to encourage church swapping by targeting everyone with your campaign.
Connect your church to your social media channels
Believe it or not, many people who attend your church aren’t connected to your church through any of your social media channels. Pre-service slides with your social media handles may be cute, but they’re often a remarkably ineffective means of getting people to pull out their phone and like your Facebook page.
With a small ad budget, you can import your church email list and create an ad that invites people to like your page. Just be sure to exclude people who already like your page so you’re not wasting ad dollars!
Make sure your audience sees your most important posts
As I mentioned in the introduction to this post, the average post reaches as low as 2% of the people who like the page. Even on our best-performing pages, we’re only consistently reaching 10% of our audience.
That means that 90% of my audience is in the dark if I’m relying on Facebook to communicate information.
Boosting important announcements to people who like your page can ensure that your entire audience sees your updates for only a few dollars. Compared with the costs of printing flyers or rave cards, Facebook ads are an economical choice.
Use custom audiences to help people in your congregation take their next step
Facebook ads as a discipleship tool? Impossible, right?
Think again. Using custom audiences, you can run ads to specific lists of people to help them take their next step as a disciple in your church. Just import a list of emails into Facebook’s custom audience tool.
Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Not in a small group? Target non-participants with an ad for your next small group connection event.
- Not on a volunteer team? Target non-volunteers with an ad for your next volunteer training opportunity.
- Never been on a mission trip? Create a carousel ad with upcoming trips and a link to an upcoming interest meeting.
Connect people to special events
What are the “mission-critical” events in your church? Christmas and Easter? A big annual conference?
Using Facebook ads, you can help boost attendance at the events that matter most to you. While Facebook lets you promote events created on Facebook, I find that event RSVPs are often unreliable.
Instead, I generally create a landing page for big events and direct people there from all of our communication channels, including our ad campaigns.
This approach works both inside and outside of your church. Depending on who you’re trying to reach, you can promote the event only to people who like your page, your page likes and their friends, or saved target audiences that you have created based on a predetermined set of interests.
Reinforce other marketing and communication channels
They say it takes an average of seven impressions before someone acts on a marketing message. By reinforcing the messages that you’re presenting from the stage, in your bulletin, or in your email messages, you can use Facebook ads to drive your message home and remind people to take action.
Helpful tips for creating and managing Facebook ads
1. You don’t need a huge budget for Facebook ads. Your CPM (cost per thousand people reached) will vary based on factors such as geography and audience size, but a good rule of thumb is that it costs $1 to reach 1,000 people.
2. Because Facebook owns Instagram and both platforms share a single ad platform, you can further expand your reach by running ads on Instagram as well.
Rob is the Director of Digital Marketing for The Summit Church in Raleigh-Durham, NC. He and his wife, Cassie, live in Cary, NC with their two girls, Emma and Audrey. Opinions are his own.