By the Rev. David Keill of Christ Ascension, Richmond
First-hand advice and feedback on paying for Facebook publicity.

First Ad

ca1Our Vacation Bible School team wanted to experiment with a Facebook ad to try to attract people to attend. To advertise, you start by making a post on your church or business page, just like a free post. You are then given the option to “boost” the post. If you select the “boost” button, there are a number of options you can use to target your audience, such as city, radius around city, gender, age, etc. You can also target people with certain interests. I went with people between the ages of 18-45 living within five miles of Richmond. I thought about targeting people with an interest in “church” and “Christianity,” but realized that I am a priest and I don’t have those listed in my interests — just Audioslave, Creedence Clearwater Revival and some books. So I didn’t target any particular interest.

You then choose a budget and a time frame, such as $40 for seven days, which is what I chose. If I had spent $50, the post would have appeared more often.  Facebook then puts the post in people’s timelines as a “Suggested Post,” or on the right hand side.  At the bottom of the post Facebook lists the people “reached.” Generally our un-promoted posts have a “reach” of 40-80 people.  Our paid post has so far “reached” 5,737 people, again probably appearing in their timeline.

We have had our ad running now for around 55 hours and have had two people I don’t know “like” our church Facebook page, with one of them “liking” the post itself.  No one has contacted us to sign their kid up for Vacation Bible School. Facebook states that we have had two “Post Engagements” which corresponds with the two people who have “liked” the page. At the time of the report, it cost $6.18 per “Post Engagment” — we spent $12.36 to have two people like our page. We can also assume we had some people notice the church who have not done anything about it, i.e they have not “liked” or commented.

Looking back, if I was smarter, I would have included a picture of some cute kids, not just text.  If we do it again I will put a lot more thought into both the text and images. At this point it is a matter of opinion as to whether or not advertising on Facebook is worth it. For me, $12.36 to get two people to begin receiving our free posts is pretty good.

Second Ad

After realizing that a text-only post was less than ideal, I stopped that post and created another one.  Facebook only charges for what you use, so we didn’t lose any money.

The picture post advertising Vacation Bible School has done much better, with different actions being taken. As of today, the ad has been running for four days and we have had 3 people like the Christ Ascension page. In addition, we have had 10 people like the photo itself. For me, this is 13 post engagements.  In the ad data that Facebook gives you, however, Facebook claims that there have been 50 post engagements.  When you go to the Facebook help glossary, the definition of what exactly a post engagement is, is not very clear and there are a lot of people complaining about that on the boards and not getting a good response from Facebook.

Two Observations

  1. No one has signed up their kid for Vacation Bible School, so the ad has not yet been successful in that regard.  However, we are clearly getting a lot of exposure in other ways. Whether or not it translates to people showing up at church remains to be seen.
  2. A good goal here is to get people to “like” the Christ Ascension page itself, since once they do that, they will receive all of our free posts until they decide to “unlike” the page.

This post has had a reach of 7,336 people, over four days, so I am guessing $30 will get us something in the area of 13,000 views.  I will see what my Church Growth Team and Vestry have to say, but I personally see this as very, very cheap advertising that really gets our name out there, and it is something I would like to keep experimenting with in the future.

Posted by DioStaff


  1. kylematthewoliver August 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    David, another option is to create a Facebook event for your VBS and then, when asked “What kind of results do you want for your ads?” choose the “Event Responses” option.

    We’ve bought a few additional outside RSVPs to our Advent Lessons and Carols and Choir Gala events at St. Paul’s in Washington. When running ads there, I’ve typically tried two or three ad types. I agree that the results available for these modest investments are worth it.

    Others thinking about this stuff:


  2. […] The Rev. David Keill highlighted his experience with paid advertising on Facebook in his post “Paying for Publicity: A Facebook Experience.” […]


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