How Our Facebook Page Grew to 250K Likes

How Our Facebook Page Grew to 250K Likes

March 20, 2013 by

I get asked a lot about the Online Church Facebook page and how it grew to over 250,000 page likes in less than two years. People often expect one secret sauce solution and that simply does not exist. This page grew through experimentation, systematization and plain old hard work.  Over the first two years of Online Church page’s existence we have failed at many experiments and succeeded in just a few. Those few have been tremendous though for our growth and I’m excited to share them with you here:

1. Posting Schedule
We post approximately four to six times each day.  Many people suggest that this is too often when they look at our page, but the reality is that Facebook users rarely go to your actual page.  They interact with your your posts in their newsfeed and they likely only see about 10% of the posts you make. This means that if we post four to six times each day, the average user will see one of our posts every other day. Doesn’t seem like too much to me and our Facebook community has yet to complain.  By the way, we schedule most of our posts out through Facebook’s scheduling feature so that we don’t have to manually post with this regularity. We monitor the page closely and strive to constantly engage with our audience.

2. Post Variety
We have a posting formula creating a balance of posts focused on inspiration, conversation and information. Most churches want to get straight to the information and let people know about their events and activities.  We have found that the more we lean on posting inspirational and conversational posts, the more effective our information becomes.  We try to add even more variety by posting these three different styles using multiple formats, such as text, images and videos.

3. Running Ads
Churches seem to think they are above online advertising and that they should not have to pay for Facebook since it is a free platform.  You do not have to, but I think it is a great tool to reach more people.  For the Online Church Facebook page we spend about $5 per day on ads and the exponential growth these have fueled has been well worth the financial investment.

On our way to finding these three success points, there have been dozens of mistakes.  As we now look ahead to the milestone of 500,000 likes, I’m sure we will try dozens more experiments that will fail.  At the same time, I believe that through those experiments we will find two or three more things to add to this list.  We plan to keep experimenting, keep tweaking our systems and keep working hard as there are more than a billion active users on this network that need to hear about Jesus and engage in community!

More:

  • Read our review of Nils Smith’s book, Social Media Guide for Ministry: What It Is & How to Use It.
  • Buy a copy of Social Media Guide for Ministry: What It Is & How to Use It.
Post By:

Nils Smith


Nils Smith is the author of Social Media Guide for Ministry and web pastor at Community Bible Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he helped to launch OnlineChurch.com. He blogs regularly and is passionate about serving the local and global church using technology in ministry.
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15 Responses to “How Our Facebook Page Grew to 250K Likes”

  • Christian
    March 20, 2013

    I’d like to hear more about Online Church’s $5/day Facebook advertising and its results. That’s a manageable budget $1825) even for smaller churches, but I’d want to know who it’s attracting and what the results are.

    I suspect the MO for Online Church is to get as many eyeballs as possible, and this wouldn’t be helpful for churches like mine whose ministry is purely local. The few times we’ve run Facebook ad campaigns, we’ve gotten some additional ‘Likes’ on our page, but they’re from people outside the area we serve.

    Also:

    I once had the privilege of interviewing Eugene Peterson. One of the things he said was, “We’re not in the business of just distributing little inspirational anecdotes; we’re trying to get people to engage in language at a deeper level. We’re not popularizers.” (http://kerux.calvinseminary.edu/2006-11-06/02)

    I thought about this quote when Nils wrote, “We have found that the more we lean on posting inspirational and conversational posts, the more effective our information becomes.” I’ve noticed that pithy quotes and Bible verses garner a lot of ‘Likes’ and ‘Shares’ on Facebook, but it’s not clear to me that sprinkling a few seconds of inspiration into somebody’s Facebook feed is the same as engaging them in life-changing discipleship. I don’t mean this as a critique of Nils or Online Church, but I think it’s worth discussing how we balance the quantity in which we make ourselves heard with the quality of what we say and write.


    • Jairus Williams
      March 21, 2013

      I work at Mariners Church Huntington Beach and I help with social media in spare time along with my primary role as the worship leader. We have gone from 150 or so likes or so to nearly 750 by using the promote feature of $5-$40 on specific post that are meant to be wide spread and then two or three times a year doing ads of $200-400 by click. We get a good return of new likes to be in conversation with. Probably 60-100 per ad. We are not great yet in variety but we share personal thoughts, information and some prayers/bible verses for lent of the 40 days. Some contests have been popular like picture contests and some video content. Hoping for more likes and reach.


  • Nils Smith
    March 20, 2013

    Thanks for the comment, Christian. You’re right on the Facebook ads. The more targeted you get in limiting your potential target audience the more costly they become. We target both local and global audiences and naturally when we target overseas the competition for those ads is minimal and the cost/click becomes much less. $5/day even on a small targeted demographic can be very impactful in creating awareness of your church in the community. I would give it 30 days and see what happens. Now’s a good time with Easter coming up!

    Interesting perspective from Eugene Peterson. I’m not sure that quality has to diminish based on quantity. Thanks for making the point and stirring the conversation. I would love to hear others perspective on this!


  • Rob Monroe
    March 20, 2013

    Hi Christian,

    Thanks for your comments Christian! I certainly understand Eugene Peterson’s perspective and concern. At our fellowship, we view social media as part of the early stage of deepening our interactions with people. It’s one of many ways we touch them. We want to move people gradually from the community to the crowd to the church to the committed to the core. Ultimately our goal is to encourage folks to visit and hear God’s Word. Hopefully they’ll be inspired by the Holy Spirit and come again. We want to make disciples and this can only be done in the context of a community of believers. Think about your social media strategy as a stop on the way but not the final destination for everyone. Now, there may be people who are not part of your local area who benefit from the good messages you feed folks with on social media. They may be inspired to seek out churches in their area and you’ll be helping to advance the Kingdom in that way as well :)


  • Steven Fogg
    March 25, 2013

    I highly recommend investing in a $ budget for social media. We use sponsored likes in the adverts manager on Facebook which helps us target geographically/age/demographic.

    By selective targeting you will save/maximise your budget.

    Since starting that we have gone from around 2,000 to over 6,000 followers on Facebook.

    We stay away from sponsored posts as we find they travel well but can be treated like spam if they just appear in the feed.


  • GP Hintz
    March 27, 2013

    Thank you so much CMS and Nils. I am so excited to see so many people embracing the awesome tool of Facebook for God’s glory. I totally agree with all the above facts. Last month I launched a book called “Facebook Jesus: Using Facebook to Build and Grow a Church” that has caught an incredible fire. And there is one thing that I learned using ads on FB that has exponentially helped. This is the power of the hash tag.

    When you are advertising online, nail down who you are after. We tried using different categories and would find that our CTR would quadruple using a different subject. It is important to know who you are trying to reach and go down the right road to reach them.

    I appreciate you letting me add to the conversation and keep up the great work. If I can ever do anything to help you, don’t hesitate to ask.

    Thanks guys for all you’re doing for the kingdom!

    GP Hintz


  • Mike Brooks
    April 24, 2013

    Great use of Facebook. This is a solid plan. Just curious if you have any incentives on your Facebook page? Like a free ebook on something. Or some other educational materials.

    If you did that I bet you’d get even more people to like the page. Especially if you ‘Like Gate’ it so they can only see the content when they like the page. This increases conversion especially for folks where the affinity may not be as strong as with a church. Like say an insurance agent.


  • Joanne Wallace
    April 24, 2014

    Great post – I’ve just been “voluntold” to manage/grow my church’s FB page, and appreciate your guidance. I’d love to have your advice on resources/sources for relevant content, especially the inspirational posts.



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