We’ve grown used to seeing content on Facebook and Instagram perform best with an audience that’s age 50+ female. No matter if the ads are for a men’s conference or vacation Bible school, we often encounter these same demographic results. So as a church, what can your team do to reach young adults and young families on these familiar platforms?
At Dunham+Company, we’ve been testing into what type of content resonates with this valuable, young audience and where they will be most likely to see it. A few small tweaks to your content and your targeting can make a big impact on visibility to a younger audience.
In the following article, your team will learn what questions to ask and which changes to make so that your content is reaching the right people.
Who should we be targeting?
In order to thrive, a church must have members in all stages of life. It’s not uncommon to see congregations that skew older, but recently there has been a resurgence among young adults and families searching for places to get involved, find community, and grow in faith.
As a church, it is crucial to not only have ministries that cater to the needs of the millennial and gen Z generations, but to build awareness of those ministries by actively advertising to this age group on social media.
Where should we advertise?
While TikTok has become extremely popular for young people, it has also encountered its fair share of controversy. Privacy concerns, bans, and pending legislation have created distrust and skepticism for many organizations as they weigh their advertising options. Luckily, there is another viable platform with a similar audience. Over 50% of current Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 34. Strong targeting capabilities, as well as multiple placement types, make Instagram an invaluable platform for church advertising.
Organic vs. paid content
Paid advertising does the heavy lifting of increasing reach and awareness, but strong, consistent organic content is what will encourage and ultimately influence the user’s final decision to take action (e.g., attend on Sunday, register for an event, etc.).
For 18 – 34-year-olds, most exploration happens through Instagram Stories and Instagram Reels. These are short, vertical-style videos or graphics that are viewed quickly and continuously. As a church, you might have top-notch advertising campaigns with great creative content, but if your organic profile doesn’t reflect that same commitment to regular, engaging content, the user isn’t going to stick around. Organic and paid content work in tandem to provide an enticing experience, from a first-time viewer all the way to a dedicated follower/engager.
The importance of the landing page
A strong landing page is a vital part of any organic or paid digital campaign. Similar to organic content, the landing page needs to be as strong as the advertising it is linked to. For young adults, this means creating a page that’s easy to navigate, not too flashy, and answers their questions.
Now more than ever, young adults are looking for a place to belong. According to a recent study by The Cigna Group, 79% of adults reported feeling lonely and disconnected. If your landing page can illustrate and communicate a welcoming invitation, users will begin to respond. When designing a page and choosing what message to convey, put yourself in the shoes of the desired audience and ask yourself these questions:
- Do I feel welcome here?
- Do I see people in the same stage of life as me?
- Will people relate to what I’m going through?
- Is this event/content relevant to my life?
- How will I know what to do? Where to go?
The ads themselves
Once the organic content and the landing pages are optimized, advertising will be a strategic addition to advance your overall digital strategy. At Dunham+Company, our testing has revealed the following best practices for advertising to adults ages 18 – 34:
- Focus on Instagram placements over Facebook.
- Make sure to have vertical (1080×1920) versions of all ad creative. This size will serve through Reels and Stories, which are the areas of Instagram where users are most likely to do their exploratory scrolling.
- Boost high-performing organic Reels to reach new users. This strategy costs less than a dedicated ad campaign and is a great way to increase awareness of your church. As an added bonus, once users engage with boosted content, they are automatically added to retargeting lists that can be used for later advertising campaigns.
- Create video content as much as possible. Currently, short form video is one of the most prioritized content types on Instagram. These videos can be as simple as a vertical collection of photos edited to music (similar to a slideshow). However, we suggest creating videos over graphic collections as often as you can.
Think of your advertisements as previews of the church/event experience. If a young adult sees your ad, they should feel as if they are getting a peek into what it would be like if they attended. What does it sound like? Look like? Feel like? Embody the experience of your church function within advertising content!
In summary, ads don’t have to be complicated, but they do have to be relatable. With the above strategies, your content can deliver the right message to a younger audience and encourage them to take action. All for the Kingdom of God!
If you’d like to talk through opportunities for your church, learn more here.
Cigna Group Study: https://www.statista.com/statistics/398166/us-instagram-user-age-distribution/