Facebook ads are one of the best tools churches can use to attract potential visitors. But if you’ve never run Facebook ads before, it can seem a little daunting—but it’s actually simpler than you’d think.
Advertising is a big part of my job here at Faithlife, so today, I’ll give you some of my best tips and instructions for creating effective Facebook ads for churches. As we continue to navigate a very interesting landscape of social media, social interaction, and social distance, we want to provide your church leadership with one more way to drive attendance this Christmas.
Before we start
Most people think the first thing to do is create your ads—that seems like the natural step. However, I suggest you first spend some time understanding who you want to see your ads. Facebook lets you target a wide range of people, but for nearly every church, reaching someone on the other side of the country isn’t as effective as reaching someone in your city.
Here are some good questions to ask yourself regarding your Facebook presence:
- Does your church’s Facebook page have a large following? (A large following would be over 1,000 engaged users who like your posts, comment, share, etc. The more people you have engaged with your posts, the more likely it is that new people will, too.)
- Does the number of engaged followers on your Facebook page come close to your average weekly attendance? If you have loads of engagement (1,500 likes) but low attendance (100), then you might want to rethink how you’re using Facebook.
- Do you have a list of recent church visitors or lapsed members that you would like to invite to your upcoming services or events?
- What’s your goal for your church’s Facebook ad? Is there a particular event or service you want to invite people to?
If your goal is to invite people in your community to your Christmas service, for example, here are the three audiences you should target:
- People who like your page
- Friends of people who like your page
- Other people nearby: geolocating people within a certain radius to your church
Creating your ads
What are you promoting in your ads? It’s a service, right?
Well, for advertising purposes, you’ll be best served to think of a service as a type of event. So the most important information to include is time, location, and date.
On Facebook, you can create an event and promote that as your ad. There are two great reasons to promote an event instead of a typical ad:
- Your ad image can feature clear pictures of your church, pastor, or service theme. You don’t have to waste your limited text allotment on words like “Christmas” or “Thanksgiving”—just design them into your graphic instead.
- When you create an event on Facebook, people can easily RSVP—so you can quickly see how many people are planning to worship with you. With many churches adapting to our current climate, a rough head count can help you prepare to keep your church safe and clean.
Here’s how to create your Facebook event:
1. On the left side of your Facebook homepage, click Events.
2. Then, click Create New Event.
3. With COVID-19 changing the way many events operate, Facebook has included new options to create in-person and virtual events. Choose the one that fits your church service best.
4. Finally, fill out the information for your event! Make sure to answer any questions a potential church visitor might have.
When you’re ready to start promoting your event, follow these steps.
Designing your ad
One of the most important parts of your church’s event ad on Facebook is the banner—the image that goes at the top of the event.
But designing a Facebook ad is a little different than designing a slide or social post. The event banner has unique dimensions and sizing compared to a normal post, so using a predesigned template is a great way to create stunning Facebook event banners.
You can start with Faithlife Media—there are tons of pre-made designs and stock photos where you can easily add your service details. (If you already use Faithlife Proclaim or Faithlife Sermons, you have access to Faithlife Media.)
If you’re looking for a free option and a knack for design, you can try canva.com.
Whatever you do, be careful not to make it too busy for people. Just because you can fit every single detail on a graphic doesn’t mean you should. Keep in mind that most people will see your ad on their phones, so it needs to be eye-grabbing—but for good reasons.
Choosing your Facebook ad budget
Let’s talk about the budget. You don’t need a huge budget to make a difference.
One of the best ways to gain traction on Facebook ads for your church is to rely on social proof from your members. Message your congregation and ask them to like, comment, share, and tag friends before you launch the ads. If you want, you can even invite business owners in your church to share your event from their business Facebook page.
This is important to know because Facebook’s algorithm wants to promote the events that have a good following and traction. Getting people to engage early basically tells the algorithm, “This event is awesome and people like it, so more people should see it.”
I typically say $200 for each week leading up to the event is a good starting point. If you see that your event is running through that budget quickly and gaining attention from the people you wanted to reach, pump up the budget to get more of a good thing.
The more work and investment you put in to get more people to your service, the more people will want to attend your service.
Are ads the secret to boosting church attendance?
While running ads can make a huge difference, it’s not actually the best way to pack the pews (or whatever the socially distant form of pews is). But it does help.
The single best way to get new people involved and attending? Reaching out and re-igniting the connection you have with your congregation. Your Facebook event gives your congregation a low-pressure opportunity to invite friends, family, or neighbors to your church service—people who would otherwise not know about your event.