Shortly before Christmas I came across a coupon code for $50 in free advertising from Facebook. I’ve never delved into using ads on social networking sites before, so this seemed like an ideal way to try something new.
With Christmas fast approaching, I decided a good use of free advertising would be to invite Facebook users in our diocese to Christmas Mass. In cooperation with our diocesan webmaster we set up a web page with the Christmas Mass times of all the parishes in our diocese. (These times are published every year in the diocesan newspaper, so we didn’t have any extra work tracking down the schedules.) Then we set up the ad itself.
One of the trickiest parts was deciding how to target the ad. Obviously we had to narrow the geographical location to our diocese; we did that by targeting users living within 10 miles of various cities across the diocese. But that still seemed to be a huge number of people. While such a “shotgun” approach to advertising might work if we had a bigger budget, I wanted to get the most bang for my buck. We eventually narrowed down the criteria by targeting users who were friends with fans of the diocesan Facebook page. This meant the ad would target around 45,000 users.
We wound up bidding on a per display basis instead of a per click basis. The ad ran between December 22 and December 24. Overall the ad was displayed 329,411 times. The link to Mass times in the ad was clicked 34 times.
Here are the raw numbers provided by Facebook:
|Date||# Displays||Avg. Cost per 1000 Displays||# Clicks||Click Rate||Avg. Cost per Click||Spent|
I’m not sure if I count this as a success or not. We have no way of tracking whether those 34 clicks actually translated to someone going to Christmas Mass who otherwise would have stayed at home. But the invitation and the diocese’s Christmas wishes were displayed to thousands of people — that seems like a win in my book.
In some ways I think Facebook ads make more sense for parishes than a large diocesan entity. It’s easier to target to the local level. In fact, I was surprised and impressed with the options for targeting ads — by gender, marriage status, age, interests, connections to fan pages, etc. Facebook seems to understand that the strength of their advertising program is directly related to how relevant the ads are to users — and they allow advertisers to target specific groups accordingly.
In the future I may experiment with more targeted ads around particular diocesan programs. I could see budgeting for limited Facebook exposure for our summer Catholic Leadership Institute for teens, marriage retreats, the March for Life pilgrimage, or our catechetical conference. If I have any resounding successes I’ll be sure to report on them here!