Facebook Removes Religious Audience Targets: How Do I Market My Church?

Facebook Targeting Options For Church Marketers

You may have just gone into Facebook to launch a new church marketing campaign and spent a few minutes searching for your “go-to / familiar” audience targets only to come up empty.  Maybe you spent an extra few minutes trying to figure out what’s wrong.  


Then you hit up Google to do a quick search and realized that what you observed is true: Facebook has removed religious targeting.  No more targeting by people interested in Bible Study’s or Hillsong United, or even just a general interest in Christianity.


And as someone who is trying to reach more people for Jesus, and to promote your church you might be scrambling to figure out how to reach new people in your area.


Here are a few tips for building your audiences, and for targeting:

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Retarget people who have visited your Church website

To do this you are going to need to have the Facebook Pixel installed on your website.  Its not as challenging as it may sound.  If you’re using Ads Manager you’re already in the backend of Facebook and so you may even have already set up your Pixel.  If you’re boosting posts, you’ll need to go into the actual Business Suite to set this up.  WordPress has a Facebook plug-in and a tutorial that is super easy to use and it does a good job of guiding you through this process.


Once you’ve set up your Pixel it will begin tracking visitors to your website and to specific pages. It is important to remember that if you have a low traffic website or if you are in the early stages of having the Facebook Pixel on your website you’ll have low advertising delivery for your campaigns. 


In this case you may want to consider targeting the people who like your page and their friends.  Make sure you are inviting everyone who likes your posts to also like your page! 

Use the look-a-likes feature to extend the reach of your retargeting audiences.

Facebook still has all of its targeting features, they’re just not making it consumer facing.  They didn’t lose the ability to target by religious interests, they just took away the transparency of their targeting.  So a look-a-like audience is going to be a great way to build out your custom audiences.


Because Facebook still knows what these folks are interested in, and it is still in their best interest to create a good advertising experience for their users.  Untargeted ads aren’t a great experience, and one option is the look-a-like feature.  This feature is found in Facebook Ads Manager and you’ll need to “create a new audience,” and SAVE your audience for future use.  You still need a source like your website, past videos, social engagement or a custom list, but this is a great way for you to still reach the right audience, while also getting scale.

Create Custom Targets For Marketing Your Church: Use a custom list like an email list.

Database marketing is one of the best ways to market your church.  It is also underutilized.  Facebook allows for lists to be uploaded and for these uploaded lists to be saved as a custom audience.  So if you have your own list of emails this could be a great way for you to build out customized and unique audiences.  Extend the reach of these lists by creating look-a-like audiences.


There are a few things to remember about this method.  The list should be one that you’ve grown organically and not something you’ve purchased from a third party.  Or if you are sharing a list with another church, a large ministry, large non-profit or other partner organization, it should be fully transparent to those who are on the list that they are going to be receiving marketing messages from your church.

Final Thought: Keyword Search Targeting on Google Ads, YouTube is a Great Church Marketing Option.

Facebook (and Instagram) are only one social media platform to consider.  And though they have the biggest audience of all of the social media networks, they’re not the only option for promoting your church.


There are other ways to reach new people. YouTube (which can be reached using the Google Ads platform) is a fantastic option.  This platform allows for keyword search targeting and interest based advertising.  YouTube is the second largest search engine in the world and is owned by Google.  This is a powerful platform for you to reach new people, and people who are in a discovery mindset.  It is also used as a music streaming platform, and many Christians will build their playlists of Christian artists and listen to this throughout the day. If you are going to use this method of promotion you’ll need to spend some time building out a quality video asset.


Another great option for your to check out is Google For NonProfits. Google’s Ad Grant allows non profit organizations with legal 501 (c) 3 status to be elligible for free ad space on their search engine results page.  While the program is limited only to keyword searches and doesn’t included display advertising or YouTube promotion, it is still an amazing resources and one of the most overlooked and undertilized church marketing strategies available to churches to promote their Jesus-loving activities and people!

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