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    Using Facebook for Church Marketing (Secret #6)

    Using Facebook for Church Marketing (Secret #6)

    The Funnel – 10 Secrets of Extraordinary Church Growth


    This is a 10 part teaching series that covers all of the chapters (all 10 secrets of extraordinary church growth) from the influential book, The Funnel, written by Ross Turner, CEO & Founder of Vibrant Agency. This book shows the proven methods for using digital marketing for churches. Using branding, team leadership, social media, website, and paid ads to help a church bring their message to their community.

    If you would like to learn more about Ross, or to contact us, please do so using the following:

    Ross Turner Instagram: @ross.turner.official

    Vibrant Agency Instagram: @vibrantagency

    Vibrant Agency Website:




    Understand Facebook.

    What is the right way to use Facebook as a church?

    I love Instagram, and for now it is my go-to, but dont sleep on Facebook. If you use Facebook the right way, you will see huge impact. You just have to understand peoples state of mind when they are using Facebook. Its different than Instagram, different than Snapchat, TikTok, or Twitter. Each social media platform has its own user behaviors and mindsets. Facebook also has a totally different audience demographic. Great marketers try to make their strategy unique and tailored for each social platform. They think about what kind of people are on Facebook, and what content they would want to see. There are moments every day when people at work or at home have gaps in their schedules. Little gaps when they have a second to check social media. These gaps are where you win the battle. Gaps between appointments, during commercials, and gaps where there shouldnt be a gap but your brain just needs a break. This is when we grab our phones and scroll through our social media platforms. Some people instinctively open Instagram, some scroll through Facebook, and many check both. The strategy to win with Facebook is different than anywhere else. It has its unique advantages and challenges, but if done right, you can gain massive amounts of interaction and depth.

    Beyond mindset differences, there are some functionality differences on Facebook as well. On Facebook posts, you can include an outbound link to a website, but on Instagram you cant. I cringe when I see an Instagram post with a typed out website URL, when it is well-known that people cannot click on it. But with Facebook, you can do things like post a snippet of a recent message, a blog post, or a special event, with a direct link to that URL. Facebook will even pull some of the images and words from that URL and automatically put it into the post. You can share links to relevant news articles, inspirational videos, or even local businesses if you want. Why is this a big deal? Its because people are much more willing to follow outbound links on Facebook than any other social media platform. When you are on Instagram, it is difficult to get people to leave the Instagram app and visit an outbound link. They are not in that mindset. They just want to check out Instagram content. However on Facebook, people will click outbound links much more often. Knowing this should play a role in the content you post. Share articles or blog posts. Link to special events on your church website. Using an outbound link on Facebook will create engagement with the post in the comments or with shares.

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    It is not just the mindset and functions that are different on Facebook, it is the actual people. At the core, I am a data nerd. I love analytics, charts, and even spreadsheets. Ew, I know. One thing I love about Facebook is that they give you analytics and data on your audience. If you are an admin on your churchs Facebook business page, you will see an Insights button. This is a tab where you can see in-depth details about your specific audience on Facebook. In this Insights page, you can see the top locations of the people who most engage with your page, their ages, gender, and even key times of the day that they interact online. If your church is like most, you will notice that the majority of the interaction you get on Facebook is from 45- to 54-year-old females. This is pretty common across the hundreds of churches that we have evaluated as a christian marketing agency. Taking that statistic into consideration, when you are on Facebook, consider that you might get more traction if you focus your content on family happenings and posts that ask for interaction and comments. These kinds of posts perform very well with this demographic. Know who you are speaking to, and you will deepen your engagement.

    When posting Facebook content, think about ways to reach the friends of your current followers. If you can tap into the influence of other peoples Facebook friends, your church will get more of a social reach than you can on your own. A great way to do this is by tagging people in photos whenever possible. When you tag someone in a photo, it appears on that persons main feed and is shown to all of their friends. By doing this, many that have never been to your church will be introduced to your Facebook page just by seeing tagged photos of their friends. Another great tip is to ask your serve team, staff, and everyone you can to check inon Facebook on Sundays. When someone checks in on Facebook, it shows up on their feed for all of their friends to see. Many churches will put up a request on their main screens reminding people to check in because of this very reason. By the time you are reading this article, there will likely be more options like this. Use them as much as possible. Anytime you can have something about your church show up on someones personal feed, do it. The organic reach of content from others is as good as a personal recommendation to check out your church.

    Remember who your audience is, and what they want to see on Facebook.

    Facebook Events for Church Marketing

    What’s the benefit of making Facebook events?

    Facebook events are underutilized by churches, simply because they dont understand why they are awesome. You as a church media team should go all in on Facebook events until they stop working. This means that all of your special events, your big Sundays, new message series kickoffs, and really anything that needs maximum attendance, should be made into a Facebook event. This doesnt mean that you shouldnt add the events to your website or appyou should definitely do thatjust dont forget to make it a Facebook event also. Why? Because it will reach way more people. 

    When you make a Facebook event, your followers will see it just like a normal post. But here is the good stuffwhen someone clicks that they are goingto your Facebook event, their Facebook friends see it too. Facebook sometimes will even show a notification to people that says something like Seven of your friends are attending an event near you this weekendand it will link directly to your Facebook event. So now you have hundreds of targeted people seeing your churchs event. Hundreds of people whom you would not have reached otherwise. This will really enlarge your reach and awareness. 

    After you have created and launched the Facebook event, then the fun begins. People can post comments, ask questions, or even share media directly on the event page itself. Now your followers have a built-in way to directly invite their friends through Facebook. This means that the invite isnt coming from you, it is coming from their personal friends, and people are more likely to come if someone they know is inviting them. Furthermore, when someone posts a comment in the Facebook event, it notifies all the followers of that event. Once you get people to click that they are goingor interestedon the page, you can continue to build excitement and anticipation leading up to the day of the event. That is exactly what we do as a christian marketing agency.

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    We did the church marketing for a church that wanted to promote their upcoming VBS, and one of the main ways that we promoted it was through a really well-done Facebook event. Facebook ads allows you to directly advertise a Facebook event, so we went all in. After a bit of advertising, we got a good number of families that clicked that they were goingto the VBS. However, we knew that we couldnt stop there. Many people who respond to a Facebook event will end up forgetting about it or not following through. We didnt want that, so we started posting fun promo videos and unique content every day on the Facebook event page. We wanted people to stay engaged and excited about the VBS. We even did a trivia giveaway that we only posted in the Facebook event page. We wanted people to stay engaged and excited about the VBS.

    As a christian marketing agency, we ended up seeing a huge spike in attendees once we stopped assuming that everyone who clicked on goingwas actually going to come. We still had to reel them in. We decided that someone who clicked that they were goingto the Facebook event simply meant that they were interested, but not necessarily committed. We kept engaging with them in that Facebook event all the way up to the day before the VBS started. And it worked! That year was the highest attended VBS that church has ever had, and we attribute its success to going deep with Facebook events. And one of the best parts? The church spent less advertising dollars than they had in previous years. If we had not gone with a Facebook event strategy, we would have spent more money and still not have achieved those results.

    For optimal church marketing, make it part of your routine to set up and maintain Facebook events every time. You won’t regret it.

    Facebook Groups for Church Social Media Marketing

    Should we set up Facebook groups for our church?

    Setting up private or public Facebook groups is a great way to create a deeper level of connectivity and engagement with your followers. When you do a post on your main Facebook page, you have to assume that you are talking to your primary church members, but also people who are just testing the waters. With a Facebook group, you can set up a page solely for established members of your church, and within that group, post more internally focused content.

    Some churches set up private Facebook groups to connect different teams and departments. A church we work with as a christian marketing agency has a private group set up for their “Serve Team” and there they post announcements and content specifically for that team. There is a lot of engagement that happens in that group, and it is a great way to build friendships and community. People within the volunteer team connect with each other throughout the week, and it is great. They share their prayer requests, post pictures from their ministries, and even invite each other to social events. The admins will even make a “Volunteer of the Week” post in that group and give a special thanks for that team member. A private group like this is also a place to share content that would only be appropriate for that specific audience. As an example, you could post a reminder for the team to wear their Serve Teamshirts on Sunday. Or the lead pastor could offer some tips and encouragement specifically for this group of people. This isnt an outreach tool for marketing to new people, but it is a great way to start relationships internally at your church using social media.

    Public Facebook groups are a tool that you could use to connect with people who are new to the church. People in these groups can start to build relationships with other families and get to know people on a personal basis. We have a church in Dallas that has a public Facebook group specifically for parents. They post reminders about early check-in and upcoming kidsministry events, and they share photos of the kids worshiping and playing together. There are parents posting about playdates, and offering hand-me-down clothing, and so many other things that connect the parents within the church. What a great way to build relationships in your church community! You dont want people to just be attendees of your church but to have deep relationships, and deep roots are formed when people start connecting outside of Sunday services. Often the first step is for people to get to know each other in these groups. You can set these groups up as a staff and ask a volunteer to manage them.

    A church marketing strategy that can also work is to create public Facebook groups that are externally focused, instead of internally focused. This means that instead of creating a Facebook group for people within your church, you create a group that anyone in your community can join. There was a church on the East Coast that had created a public Facebook group just for Christian college students. The college pastor posted frequent content to encourage students in their spiritual growth. He shared resources about upcoming events, and even reached out to students to do guest blogs. Eventually they had thousands of students join this group, and it became bigger than just what the pastor was posting. People started connecting with each other and posting helpful content. Even students who would never attend their church still found a community in this Facebook group. This was a great way to help students who were away from their families to find new friends and hopefully get plugged in at their local church.

    Use Facebook groups to start lasting relationships.

    Dealing With Comments and Messages

    So wait, I have to actually be social on our social media? 

    As a christian marketing agency, recently we ran an ad campaign for fifty different churches around Thanksgiving. We created a post discussing about how the holidays can be a hard time for some people, and that we wanted to know how we could pray for them. The call to action was to send the church a message so they could pray for and encourage them. Our goal was to build some new relationships with people in the community and to help anyone who was in a difficult season. I was pleasantly surprised at how many responses we were able to generate. We were seeing anywhere between seven to twenty direct messages (DMs) on Facebook and Instagram per week, and they were really sincere messages asking for prayer. What an awesome opportunity to help bring encouragement to people and build relationships, right? When our team was monitoring the results of this Facebook ad, I found out some terrible news. Churches were not responding to, or even reading most of the messages. I was so mad! These churches were literally running an ad asking people how they could pray for them during a difficult season, and then they turned around and ignored the responses. Not cool. There were people leaving genuine comments on the posts or sending DMs asking for prayer, and they would get no reply. Some churches had a Facebook auto responder on, but this almost made it worse because it said that someone would get back to them shortly, which was also not true. Eventually, we got all of the churches to start responding, but it wouldnt have happened if we did not push for it. These could have been missed opportunities, leaving people offended and hurt and with a great distaste for the church.

    Make it a hard rule. Everyone gets a response when they comment or message you on Facebook. Period. Social media works so much better when people feel like they are actually interacting with someone, instead of just consuming your content. In fact, you should post content on your Facebook feed sometimes that specifically asks a question, purely for engagement. Perhaps you have heard of Facebooks algorithm: they intentionally show content to more people if the post is already getting engagement. Why? Because Facebook wants to have their users enjoy their experience, and the way they determine what posts to show is by how many comments and interactions that post receives. And its not just about that one post; they actually factor in how much engagement your page gets in general. You want to protect your engagement ranking by being very responsive to everyone who interacts with you. Frequently create engagement posts that ask a question, like Whos got great plans this weekend?or something like that. When you get a comment under that post, respond to that person directly in the thread. It can be as simple as hitting the Like button on their comment, or you can actually write a response back. This matters not only because of the algorithm, but also because it sets a precedence that when people engage with you, someone is actually going to interact with them. Your church social media feels organic when you put in the time to actually respond on a human-to-human level.

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    However, you dont always have to wait for them to leave a comment. If you are really serious about connecting with someone, you can reach out directly to them. There is a church we work with in Florida who sends personal, non-automated DMs to tons of people who like or comment on their social media posts. Wait what? Now thats just crazy. But maybe crazy might just work. Through these messages, the church introduces themselves and personally invites people to an upcoming service. These are completely individualized messages, sent out one by one. This church has many members today who actually first came simply because of that one DM. A great strategy to set up is to do an ad or a boost that is shown to people who are in your local area, but in that post, the custom audience is set up to exclude people who already likeor follow your churchs page. The purpose of narrowing your audience like this is so you can assume that all of the interaction on the post is from someone who is not already a member of your church. Thats a pretty dialed-in audience to send these messages to and invite to your next service or big day!

    There are two schools of thought when it comes to church marketing, and they both work. One is the shotgun approach, and one is the sniper approach. The shotgun approach is where you take your message and blast it to a wide range of people, showing it to as many people as you canbut you dont really know what kind of results you will get, like a shotgun blast. The sniper method is when you focus on a single individual at a time and spend your energy on that one person. Like a sniper takes time to aim and shoot at his/her targets one by one. Both strategies have their benefits. Going one by one works with churches because people appreciate the personal connection and feel more compelled to take the next step, but a shotgun approach can often reach a higher volume of people. You just have to see what works best for you.

    Trust me, running a christian marketing agency, I know how spread thin you can get in ministry. Spending time each day responding to comments and messages on Facebook is probably not always going to fit into your schedule. But if you really want to use Facebook as a means to build new connections and relationships, this simply has to be a priority. So ask for help. Have select staff members or volunteers install the Facebook Pages app and turn on notifications for comments and messages for your churchs page. Make it a team effort. If you can have at least three or four people with the responsibility to make sure that comments and messages get a quick response, then you should be set. 

    People want to talk with people, not bots.

    Livestream vs. Facebook Live

    Should we go Facebook Live for our services? Or livestream? Or both?

    Facebook Live has made an incredible impact for church marketing. There is really no comparison between view rates on Facebook Live compared to traditional live-streaming. Facebook Live wins every time. If you arent broadcasting your services on Facebook Live, you are one of the few. Going Facebook Live is totally different than signing up for a traditional livestream service. Most churches have actually canceled those livestream providers and now only broadcast on Facebook Live each Sunday. Why is it so different? Two words: social reach.

    Connecting and interacting is so easy on Facebook Live. YouTube has a really great livestream option, but the interaction isnt as good as Facebook. Facebook will notify you when your church has gone live, so you wont miss it. And when someone is watching your Facebook Live, they can share it, comment on it, and interact directly with the church right there on the livestream. This gains views, engagement, and new followers.

    However, before you decide to go live, and if your church has the resources available, you should invest into some tools and equipment to help improve your Facebook Live quality. It doesnt always have to be a separate camera for livestream only. Some churches have already invested in high-end cameras that project up on the screens in the service. You can just tap into that same feed and use it for your Facebook Live broadcast. This gives you multiple angles and high-resolution quality. For the audio, you will improve your quality if you use a separate mixer board for the live feed. If you cant afford to have a separate mixer system, then you can have your live feed come out of the same board as the main system, just with its own mix. A good method we have found is to dedicate four or five groups of inputs to a few separate channels that you mix just for your broadcast. You could, for example, send all of the drums and bass to one group, all of the other instruments and tracks to another group, vocals in a third group, and finally the lead pastor gets his or her own channel. If it is too tight to have both the Front of House (FOH) and the broadcast mixer behind the board at the same time, many contemporary digital mixers come with their own app. With an app integration, the broadcast mixer can manage their own mix from a different location in the building. This allows you to listen with ear buds and get a mix that is better suited for online streaming.

    As churches progress, more people will want to focus their attention on delivering high-quality broadcasts. Soon churches will be more concerned with their livestream than their in-person experiences.  Its because the online numbers will likely surpass the in-person numbers. Once you get a look at the data on your Facebook Live, you will start to see that sometimes the number of people watching online is three or four times greater than those who actually came in person. Don’t fight it—you won’t win. Instead, make your entire Facebook Live experience excellent. Dont just throw up any old raw footage, because this is the first impression a lot of people will get for your church. When your livestream is excellent, then you will start to reach more viewers than ever before. 

    One church in Atlanta that we managed, as a christian marketing agency, has a very large online following. Their Facebook Live usually has well over 2,000 viewers throughout the service. Each Sunday they have a specific volunteer whose job is to engage with everyone within the comments. This person introduces him/herself to all of the people who join the Facebook Live, chats with them, and posts comments throughout the service. Over years of doing this, it has been a positive first impression for people. The livestream on Facebook is part of the top of your church marketing funnel. You should expect that most people watching are just testing the waters. Greeting them with a friendly introduction is a great way to build relationship and draw them in. 

    So dont just worry about the service in your Facebook Live, but learn from our church in Atlanta and make the whole experience interactive. Dedicate an individual or small team whose sole job is to produce the Facebook Live. Train them. Resource them. This is a big deal. Trust me, as the owner of a christian marketing agency, I know this sounds intense, and you dont need yet another task on your plate. But the numbers don’t lie. These are real people who are ready to connect with your church, so make their experience an excellent one. The Facebook Live team can put together a five minute prerecorded video or live program before the beginning of the service each week to hook people in and get them to join the livestream. They can share announcements, do fun interviews, or strictly engage with people during this pre-service video. The team is also responsible for engaging with comments and interactions on the feed before and during the service, being a friendly and welcoming voice to any newcomer.

    And finally, at the end of your Facebook Live, there should be a conclusion with a call to action like prayer requests, small group registration, or online giving. It does sound like a lot of work, and it is. However, when you think strictly about the numbers, this small Facebook Live team could be making an impactful experience for sometimes double or triple the number of people who came in person.

    The numbers dont lie: Facebook Live will be your biggest audience.