After reading a recent blog from Chris Abbott, regarding his recent success in working with a small church’s Social Media Campaign of approximately 120 people. I realised that he was also talking about my church as well. We are almost the exact same size, with anywhere between 80-120 people attending on a given Sunday. When I saw that with some simple Facebook Advertising, along the line’s of Chris’s advice, I believed we could actually be effective. In engaging young families to come along to an event, or special type of service that we might run in the future.

So we decided to give it a shot

I mean after all, what did we have to lose? So first of all we needed some sort of an event or special service to invite people to. It so happened that we were relaunching our evening services for the year. Traditionally we’ve done a BBQ around 5:30 pm for this relaunch, then moved into our traditional start, approximately from 6:30/7 pm.  I began thinking about how we could change things up a little, as I’m not a fan of doing what you’ve always done, just because.

We decided to change our norm, for something different

So I pitched the idea of targeting our young families, as that is who we want to attract and engage with.  So we as a team decided to start much earlier, with a 4 pm start, BBQ, salads, Ice Cream and drinks provided, along with a short message. All targeted to engage and encourage parents and families.

So to give you an idea on our normal attendance, we generally have between 20-35 attend our evening Cafe Service. As a result of this campaign and loads of inviting from everyone, we had 48 people in attendance, with a total of 8 visitors. A further 10 coming along, who we’ve never seen in our evening services, primarily due to the new time slot. But they came along because we actively engaged with them and invited them to this particular service.

So, what did we do?

  1. Wrote our advert for Facebook
  2. Created the image for it
  3. Created the landing page on our website
  4. Set up the ad in Facebook (with a slight adjustment after the first day)
  5. Prayed, like mad. Not just for the ad campaign, but for the evening and the families that were coming.

In regards to our ad, our approach has always been kind of quirky.  Generally this has been to try and communicate that our church is normal and down to earth, with a sense of humour (who wants to not be funny right?). But I also wanted to pitch it as a solution to answer a question that people might have, hence our ad copy being aimed at those who might be looking for something to do on Sunday Afternoon.

Our Strategy?

My strategy for this was pretty straight forward. I wanted people to do as they were told, we wanted:

  • People to see the ad on Facebook/Instagram.
  • To engage them by having them click onto our landing page.
  • To give our target market a snapshot of what the night was going to entail, once again, sounding lighthearted and fun.
  • People to either just come, OR load our contact us page, for directions/contact details with any questions.

I’m sure that our strategy here, will get fine tuned as we keep doing this, but for now this was our starting point.  My sales background tells me that people need to have their questions answered (Whats In It For Me? or “WIIFM”) without even asking them, hence our plan above.

What were the stats?

  • We reached 13,062 people
  • We had 17,161 Local Impressions
  • Cost per 1,000 Impressions was $2.34

In all of this, we reached almost 10,000 via Instagram, that was a massive surprise for me, as we don’t even have a church Instagram account. We had a

Which platform performed best – Instagram vs Facebook

total of 17 people take action, with 13 people clicking on the link through to the website. We also had 75 page loads of our Family Service Landing Page on our website alongside all of this.

What would we do differently?

  • Ad Copy – After getting some feedback, from the Church Communications Facebook Family, we have realised that our approach needs to be, much shorter. So the Ad copy needs to only be a few sentences, enough to hook and grab attention.
  • Conversion Pathway – We need to look at each step and focus on what we want at each point along the journey. To achieve your goals get ruthless, as to what you want people to do. You need to communicate part of the story, in order to engage them into taking the next step
  • Age Range – We initially had the target age from 13 yr-55 yr olds (taking into account that there are a few older parents these days).  However on the first day we realised we’d spent almost $6 of our daily budget by 3:30 pm, and we’d reached a pile of teenagers, who were more likely not going to come along. So we adjusted our target age range to 22-55 yr old. So we recommend to think about your target market, what are you promoting, and who are you aiming to attract.
  • Ad Image – We’d explore changing our image on the advert. Perhaps to something  a little more relevant (non stock image pref) of families, or perhaps meat cooking on the BBQ, or even more perhaps a short 15-20 second video. We could even go down the line of staring down the barrel of a camera and giving a really energetic and personal invite.
  • Don’t do just one, do several versions – We’d probably go a step further to what we’ve done in this example, and that is to set up several different versions, visually speaking, of the ad, to grab peoples attention and hopefully draw them into engaging, as per Chris’ advice.

So what’s the bottom line?

We spent $40, we spent my time in putting it all together, was it worth it? We say a resounding YES most definitely! This experience was very valuable, with doing something differently in terms of our service that we wanted to promote. We were targeting families specifically, our promise was that we’d feed you and your family, AND have you home in time for bath and bedtime routines. Because of this, we were more motivated to invite, and reach out.

We were going to see how this night went, to determine if we’d consider doing it again, and the first thing out of our Senior Pastors mouth the next day, was, “so when can we do the next Family Service?” Now it’s time for me to take my own thoughts and learning from here, and do it better, for next time.