Meredith Gould, author of The Social Media Gospel and one to whom we should play close attention  whenever she speaks on Social Media, advises over and over that churches need to have an overall strategy when it comes to Social Media.
What are we trying to accomplish?  Who are we trying to reach?  What is our message?  What social media platform will reach the people we are trying to reach?  How will we use social media to accomplish our goals?

In other words, think strategically when it comes to social media.

So when Facebook offered me $50 in free Facebook advertising for the Northeastern Iowa Synod Page I did not immediately say,“oh sure”.

I asked myself why we would want to do that.  A synod page is different than church page.  A free ad would be good for a church page because you want people to see your page and then perhaps come to your church.  There’s really no need for random people from around Waverly, Iowa to come to the Synod Office.

But it was Christmas time.  What if we could advertise to all of Northeastern Iowa the times of Christmas Worship services of all the congregations in our synod?

Helping the churches of the Northeastern Iowa Synod reach out with the Gospel is a goal of our synod. Advertising the Christmas worship times of the congregations in our synod would achieve that goal.

So we used the free credit to promote a post for 8 days (Dec 17-25) on Facebook with a link to the Synod Blog post listing the name, address, website and times of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day services.

What does it mean to promote a post on Facebook?  Well if you are on Facebook you probably have noticed that posts from businesses show up on your newsfeed even if you don’t follow that business. That’s because they pay to promote those posts.  You can promote your post to the whole country, a state or so many miles within a certain zip code.  We chose to promote it through all of Iowa.

We figured Christmas is a time when people who are not regular church goers are more likely to consider attending church.  A post showing up in their newsfeed letting them know all the places they could worship might motivate them to attend worship on Christmas.

When all was said and done the post was viewed 7,944 times.  143 people clicked on the link.  We gained 10 more likes of our page. We had 339 views of that blog post which is about three times what most views get in a week.

This did not cost us anything because of the free offer but even if it had, it would have only been $40 for the week of advertising.

Did anybody actually go to church on Christmas Eve because of the ad?  I don’t know.  But enough people clicked the ad to think about it.   The price and exposure was sure a much better deal than the newspaper.

I would recommend buying Facebook ads but do it strategically.  There are different ways to advertise on Facebook.  Think about what you are trying to accomplish, who your target audience is and then decide what the best way to use the ads to accomplish your goals. But I think it is worth doing for most churches.

Pastor Joelle Colville-Hanson, Director for Evangelical Mission

Join the conversation! 1 Comment

  1. First, thanks for the shout-out and ongoing support of my work in this ministry we share. More important, thanks for this terrific post that helps readers understand the thought process behind the FB ad buy. What you decided to do was pitch perfect for a synod ad.

    You also rightfully underscore the fact that it really doesn't matter whether anyone actually attended a Christmas Eve service as a result of this ad. When it comes to church communications we need to be okay with the fact that years may elapse between the time someone is invited (via a media source or in person) to attend a church and attendance happens; even longer for someone to attend regularly and then become an active participant in community. Such is the nature of faith and religion.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

About The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson

The Rev. Dr. Joelle Colville-Hanson has been Director for Evangelical Mission, ELCA for the Northeastern Iowa Synod since late 2013. Part of her job description is to help leaders and congregations use social media and other digital means for outreach and mission. She writes and edits this blog as well as runs the social media accounts for the synod.


Digital Ministry