Todd Rossnagel is a lay leader at First United Methodist Church in Baton Rouge, La.
What’s your favorite part about celebrating Easter at your church?
In south Louisiana, we are used to welcoming people. Whether it’s a craw fish boil, a parade or a tailgate party, we love to welcome new friends and re-engage with old ones. In many ways, Easter is to the church what the Alabama game is to LSU fans—all eyes are on the product and everyone is engaged. It’s this “on full display” that many of us at First United Methodist Church have come to love over the years. However, when it comes to sharing the news that Christ defeated death, it’s very much unlike a football contest as everyone (not just half of the crowd) leaves the campus with a smile.
Share one cool way your church is spreading the word about Easter this year:
Our contemporary worship service is just two years old but very active, thanks in large part to Facebook as it was and remains our primary advertising machine. From the weeks prior to the service launching, we spent a few hundred dollars to drive interest and invite a few folks to check out the page/service. In a matter of months, we had as many followers as the parent church. Over the years, we have never spent money on ads, leaning instead on organic reach.
However, for this year’s Easter week, we threw a mere $200 at our Facebook campaign. We boosted several posts to those who liked the page and their friends. These posts included word quote images (our favorite apps are WordSwag, Over and InstaQuote), linked content (articles that explained Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, etc.), iPhone videos from the pastor as she was prepping for the sermons, the bands first music video and—of course—invitations to join us for the many worship opportunities.
We reached over 28,000 people during the week, with 55 new page likes, over 600 total likes, 74 shares (that’s huge) and our videos reached over 10,000 people and almost half of those actually viewed the videos. By analyzing the Facebook analytics (which is just cool), we were able to see that much of the spike in activity was thanks to advertising. But keep in mind, we didn’t spend a ton of money—$200 for the entire week, $5 here, $10 there. All of this is testament that, in the Facebook world, spending just a few dollars to boost posts pays off. For the smaller churches, just spending ten dollars will—and in our case—did yield a huge result.
The larger question one would and should ask is, “did it result in greater attendance?” We’ve always maintained that the online audience is just as important as the audience that attends so that question is somewhat misleading. But yes, there were more people than last year. In fact, there were three times as many people. In hindsight, we would have loved to have cross checked how many of the newcomers were a result of our increased Facebook marketing, but at the end of the day, sharing the message becomes the most important deliverable.
How do you keep your focus on the joy of Easter amid the stress of looming deadlines and long hours?
Facebook allows you to schedule posts, which frees you from the daily/hourly task of managing the page and this is a huge relief. However, the content still has to be curated and decided upon. The Wednesday prior to Easter week, the social media manager (lay leader in the church) and the pastor set aside an hour to discuss the schedule, the budget and the timing of each post. Each had individual assignments—the pastor would look for interesting articles and produce two simple iPhone videos. The manager would create word quotes, update the cover photos, and schedule the posts as needed. This small, hour-long meeting, alleviated stress of creating content on the fly and proved to be very resourceful.
- Get more Easter ideas with our growing collection of articles, examples, and more.
- Check out our book, Super Sunday: Planning Easter for Your Church, for tips on how to plan, promote, and survive Easter.
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