January 22, 2016
The Data Shows: Invite and They Will Come
Last December, the Acts 8 Movement released a video which could be customized and shared via social media to proclaim the gospel and invite people to worship.
After it came out, I posted a tutorial about how to do just that, providing video for you to follow along as I customized the video for the church I serve and created the Facebook ad. (Full disclosure: I'm on the core team of the Acts 8 Movement and had advance notice that the video was coming out.) My goal was to help others use the ad in their contexts.
<iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/xA52CkfVgP0" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>
With the press of the holidays and the start of the new year (which includes a few significant initiatives which I will share soon) it took me a while to go back and analyze the outcome.
If you didn't read the tutorial post, you need to know:
- I had never customized a video someone else had created before.
- I was new to video in general; I first edited video in 2015 for a youth group project.
- I had never run a paid Facebook ad in my life.
My goal was primarily to learn from the experience. And I did!
Here's what I learned:
- Customizing video is easier than I thought.
- Facebook ads are easier than I thought.
- When you invite people to church, they come.
Facebook Ads Manager shows that I spent $19.48 on the ad. It ran from December 21 through December 24.
I was expecting to only reach 1000 people, but the ad appeared in people's Facebook feeds 1,695 times. 906 people engaged with the post somehow. 877 viewed at least 3 seconds of the video (which plays automatically). 21 people viewed the whole video. That seems like a small number but that is 21 more people than would have seen it otherwise!
I consider all this a great investment of $19.48. The cost of having the video show up in someone's feed was $.02. That is pretty amazing. What else can you get for $.02 these days? Even considering how few people watched it all the way through, it still cost less than a dollar per person. Less than one dollar to provide a gospel message of God's love to the 21 people who watched the whole thing.
The really interesting question is: did anybody respond by joining us for worship?
I don't have a definitive answer, because we didn't ask people who came to church on Christmas Eve if they had found us on Facebook. So we can't prove causation. But there is definitely correlation. Here's our Christmas attendance (both Christmas Eve plus Christmas Day) for the last five years.
Do you notice something different about 2015? I do.
For $19.48, just one person showing up to worship God on Christmas Eve who might not have come otherwise would be a win. But our attendance was up 13% over last year. We had the highest attendance we've recorded in the past five years.
The only thing we did differently this Christmas Eve and Day? Run a Facebook ad with the customized video from Acts 8 Movement.
Why does growth in numbers matter? Because in the church, numbers are people. There are real human beings in this world who are lost and confused and need to know something of the love of God and the way of discipleship. I know - I used to be one of them. And the way people discover the love of God and the joy of being disciples in community is by showing up for common worship.
So what comes next?
I'm reminded of an image I first ran on this blog a few years back:
We need more more research experiments in digital evangelism by the Episcopal Church.
When we knew nothing, we spent $19.48 to reach 1965 people leading to a 13% boost in attendance.
Those are results I'd sign up to repeat, and we can only learn from here.
Did you run the ad? What outcomes did you see?
This blog was first posted January 19. 2016 on Nurya’s blog churchwork. It is reprinted with permission of the author.
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