For many years I've been creating posters and postcards and even vinyl banners to advertize for Holy Week at Messiah (and at St. Mary Magdalene's when I was there). Usually they get a few people to come, so I think they are totally worth doing. I've been more hesitant to do real Facebook campaigns, partly because I simply haven't felt like I've had the time. But this year I'm full of energy and enthusiasm, so I'm giving it a shot (and it doesn't hurt that I saw my friends at Church of the Transfiguration are trying a Facebook campaign!). Time for to give it a try. Target: Palm Sunday.
Step one: Create a "landing page" for the campaign. Since I'm targeting the "Open de-Churched" for this campaign, I wrote an article on the church's blog explaining what Palm Sunday is all about. This is purely an attractional approach, of course, and had in mind the sort of people who might remember going to church, but don't quite remember what Palm Sunday about or why it's different from the usual week. It's a bit "teachy," maybe, but this is just my first attempt at a Facebook campaign, so, it is what it is!
Step two: create a tracking tag for Google Analytics. Using this tool I created a custom tag to append to URL links that are part of the campaign. That way I can tell, later, how much of the traffic that lands on this page did so specifically because of the campaign (rather than simply because they Googled "What is Palm Sunday").
Step three: create a post on Facebook on the Church's page. (Not strictly necessary, of course, but helpful.) Now that post is only two sentences, but it has a link to the article I wrote in step one, along with a thumbnail image from that article. I set this post to go live at 10am. Scheduling is a good idea for two reasons: 1) having it publish during a high-traffic time on Facebook means that it will appear current in people's timelines, rather than hours old, and 2) I can make changes and make sure everything is solid before it goes live.
Step four: set up the Facebook ad. I won't walk you through this except to say that's very simple. You can set a "budget" for the campaign, but in the end they only charge you for the actual click-throughs of your ad. I'll also mention that I used the tracking tag created in step two, so this campaign will show up in Google Analytics and I'll be able to see how it compares to other efforts to bring traffic to the website. I also scheduled this to run from this morning (after the Facebook post goes public, naturally) until the service starts Palm Sunday morning. I also targeted it specifically to the GTA. I could have narrowed it down even further, say to people in certain age ranges, but this campaign is not that highly targeted. However, it probably won't be very long before you can create ads targeted toward people who like certain things that might lead me to think they would be open to attending a certain kind of church event, for example. That's coming.
This first attempt is a short run (three days) and not very expensive ($50). So I'll be curious to see the results. I'll be able to see how many people clicked through the ad and how many people stumbled onto the landing page from other sources. And if there are any visitors on Sunday I will simply ask them, as well, how they found us. A lot of time it's simply from walking or driving by the building, so I'm already thinking of ways we could maximize that.
Is there a difference between this advertizing work and evangelism? Not really. You'll see that I'm not pulling some kind of bait of switch, the post on the church website is quite confessional. I'm clearly inviting people to hear more about Jesus and His story. If that's not Evangelism I'm not sure what is!