Archives For Marketing

Yesterday we tried out Facebook’s new Promoted Post feature to get the word out about our first Cru weekly meeting . Promoted posts are a way to get seen by the people who like your page AND their friends. It’s 100x better than running an ad on Facebook because it shows up in people’s news feed.

Here’s how Facebook describes it (they have a helpful, short video explaining it here) :

  • All promoted posts will show in the news feeds of the people who like your Page and, when they interact with the post, to their friends.
  • Your promoted posts will be seen by a larger percentage of the people who like your Page than would normally see it. It will also be seen by a larger percentage of the friends of people who interact with your post.
  • Only pages with 400 likes or greater can use the Promoted Post feature

We spent $2.92 of our $15 “budget” for the 5 hours that it was “promoted” ($15 was the max amount you could budget).

We let the post run for 3 hours before we promoted it. After 3 hours the post had 37 likes, it had been shared 4 times and seen by 738 people.

Here’s the stats after 5 hours of being Promoted:

Cru promoted post w stats

Doing the math . . .in the 5 hours we promoted the post:

  • 1100 people saw the post – almost 800 of those were a result of Promoted Post (I presume 300 would have seen it if we had not promoted)
  • There was a marked increase in the number of shares: 4 to 22
  • Not a huge increase in likes (I attribute that to the fact that most of our leaders had probably already liked it during the first 3 hours it ran)
  • Not sure if it was the number of likes/shares or the fact that we used Promoted Post, but the post was “pinned” at the top of the newsfeed for the several Cru leaders I checked with

It’s hard to tell how much extra promo Promoted Posts brought, BUT I’m sure it was worth at least the $3 we spent on it.

A few takeaways as I think about how to make Promoted Posts even more effective:

  • We need to work on getting more students to like our page (so that when we do promote posts, they will see them for sure)
  • We need to encourage our student leaders to friend as many new students as possible (so that when we promote posts, all the students we’re trying to reach will see the post). If our students are only friends with other involved Cru students then only involved Cru students will se our Promoted Posts.

What have you seen work in promoting your ministry on Facebook?



Chris Brogan with some great insights:

“photos with text over them are the new big thing.” Have you noticed your Facebook stream lately? A huge chunk of what goes by lately are photos with text over them.

For whatever reason, the “photos with text” experience gives us that feeling we get when we read magazines. It makes the texty text of blogging a lot less stark. It draws our eyes in. It’s fast to consume, and it brings an emotional response faster.

He gives three key ways to think about their use:

  1. Make interesting graphics worth sharing.
  2. Make it easy to share them.
  3. Evoke an emotion.

Using photos to gain visibility on Facebook is definitely something we’ve been trying to do more of (thanks to Brian Barela’s repeated advice over the past 2 years). Every time we post an event on Facebook we try to include a photo:

As you scanned over those last three images, you can see why it is so powerful:

  • It only took you a few seconds
  • It was visually appealing
  • It wasn’t a boring block of text that you skim straight over

But I don’t think we’ve tapped into the full potential of marketing on Facebook in the “photos with text” world.

What are you thoughts on how to better capitalize on Brogan’s three keys (I don’t think we do well at #2 or #3)?

Everyone who seeks to mobilize support for a non-profit should be taking notes on what Invisible Children has accomplished. And I think we can learn a lot from the video.

Most of us will barely pause to watch a 3 minutes “cause” video. But this morning, with my bowl of cereal, I sat (with 21 million others) watching a THIRTY minute video.

The rapid spread of the video seemed to have far surpassed even Invisible Children’s lofty hopes (I saw one IC’er tweet that they were hoping for 500,000 shares on Twitter).

  • Fast Company called it the Making of a Viral Masterpiece and a public relations coup
  • Celebs/Twitter Royalty like Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Kim Kardashian, Perez Hilton, Justin Bieber, Ryan Seacrest and others watched the video and retweeted it.
  •  They’ve reached more people in 24 hours than the last 9 years of crisscrossing the globe showing videos on college campuses (Though you’d have to guess that all that crisscrossing gave them the foundation and good will, and brand recognition to create such a massive groundswell. Makes you wonder what would have happened if they were a brand new org just starting with this KONY2012 gameplan. Would it have taken off like it has without the hard work of many years?)

A few takeaways (as I process what we can learn for our own organization):

  • While many bemoan slacktivism (taking easy, social actions in support of a cause), I think this Invisible Children coup gave a glimpse of how it can be harnessed and channeled for good (and see this article – Slactivism Causes Engagement)
  • Video is powerful
  • College students love causes (and slacktivism!). Though I do follow a disproportionate amount of college students on Twitter it seems like the majority of the Retweets came from this generation.
  • Invisible Children had a VERY well thought through gameplan. It wasn’t just a video. And the video didn’t just cast vision for their cause. They give really clear next steps (and more vision!) for how YOU can get involved.
  • They targeted key gatekeepers who could help accelerate the spread of their idea (and make it super easy for their devoted followers to pester those gatekeepers until they give in)
  • Be ready for pushback
    • In this new age of instant media exposure, it seems that pushback is soon to follow
    • The PR battle is won or lost quickly on the internets
    • Almost immediately on the heels of all the good PR, many started retweeting this Visible Children article that is strongly anti-Invisible Children
    • [update – Fast Company has a good summary of the backlash]
    • Cru experienced this, this past summer. I think we could learn a thing or two from how Invisible Children responded in less than 24 hours to these unfavorable reports:
      • Invisible Children has an entire section of their website dedicated to critiques


It’s obvious that explicitly Christian non-profits can’t replicate everything a secular (though Christian-based) organization like Invisible Children does.

But I wonder:

  • Would a group like the Travelling Team (who, much like Invisible Children, travels across the U.S. mobilizing college students) would benefit from putting more resources toward a social media/video strategy?
  • Should Cru be investing more money in video/social media?
  • Who are the gatekeepers we should be seeking out who can quickly help ideas spread (and how can we help our already-devoted followers win them over)?
  • How can we help channel college students’ natural passion for world-changing?


What are your takeaways?


This is the 2nd post in the series “Marketing Jesus on the Quad”. Click to read the 1st post.

I know. I don’t like the thought of “marketing Jesus” either.

But in this age, “all communication will be perceived as marketing. All self-presentation, even church advertising, will be perceived as branding. And all outreach will be viewed as sales. There is nothing we can do to change this context.” –  Tyler Wigg-Stevenson

So for simplicity, I’ll use the term “marketing” (my goal is not to split hairs over semantics but to think through how we can better communicate the good news to this generation of college students).

As I’ve chewed on the implications of horizontal marketing for college ministry (see my initial post for an intro), I keep coming back to: we’ve got to figure out what we’re “selling”.

What ideas are we hoping students will spread?

What exactly do we want students to talk about?

We want students to talk about Jesus.

But, there’s really TWO things we want students to talk about:

  • Jesus AND Cru (for the sake of brevity I will use “Cru” throughout, but I really mean “Cru or whatever org/church/ministry you’re a part of”)

Think about it: why don’t we just put up posters on campus that say “Come become a follower of Jesus – 8:30 – Tuesday nights”?

Why is our lead foot often to “sell” Cru? And is that wrong?


We are unapologetic in wanting to students to passionately promote Cru.

Because we know that through getting involved in a movement like Cru, students will encounter Christ and join His mission to seek and save the lost.


Seth Godin captures this thinking well in his book Tribes. It’s essentially a how-to book on how to create a movement that will change the world. And what is the main ingredient? “Humans need to belong . . . and connect around an idea”.

David Mays has a thorough summary/key quotes from Tribes here


A movement like Cru provides the key ingredient that will get over student’s indifference and/or antagonism toward God: belonging.

Getting swept up in a movement of peers who love and wholeheartedly serve Jesus.

Many students need to belong before they believe.

Dallas Willard echoes this in his thoughts on evangelism: “Many people will be drawn in without any special strategy but simply by the health of the people.”


Seth Godin poses what I think is THE question for horizontal marketing:

“How can we make it easier for people to talk about what they’re up to and what they care about?”


The solutions we’re looking for seem to break down into two categories:

  1. How do we make it easier for them to talk about Jesus?
  2. How do we make it easier for them to talk about Cru?


And I think both are legitimate (and two pretty different) things:

  1. We want to help our students learn, especially in a new world of social media, how to easily share with their friends what is most important to them (Jesus).
  2. But we also want to make it easy for students to passionately persuade their lost friends to join a movement of believers (Cru) where they will encounter Jesus.


So I would love to take on each of these in separate posts in the next few days in hopes that, together, we can figure out how to better accomplish each.

What are you thoughts? What are we marketing- Jesus or Cru? Is there room for both?


Marketing Jesus on the Quad

February 22, 2012 — 5 Comments

“P&G To Lay Off 1,600 After Discovering It’s Free To Advertise On Facebook”headline last week

The new age of marketing is great news for college ministry.

Two reasons:

  • Advertising is almost completely free
  • It’s highly dependent on peer relationships

Every year we spend less and less on traditional advertising.

When I first came on staff with Cru we would spend hundreds of dollars on a single ad in the School Newspaper. Even as recently as 3 years ago we invested thousands on yard signs, facebook ads, and posters around campus.

Now we almost exclusively do free “advertising” on Facebook and peer-to-peer word of mouth.

This graphic does a great job summarizing this new era of Horizontal Marketing. It’s well worth clicking to read the full infographic (graphic via @mcryanmac who tweeted “This has very interesting implications for how evangelism on campus moves forward”).

“Horizonal marketing means creating a remarkable product and story and setting it up to spread from person to person.” – Seth Godin


I want to take a few posts and figure out together what this new era of marketing looks like in College Ministry.


Here’s where we’re headed in the next few posts:

1) What are we marketing?

  • Cru (or church or whatever Christian group)
  • or Jesus

2) Applying Horizontal Marketing to College Ministry

  • Using social media for marketing
  • Peer to peer marketing
    • How can we make it easier for students to talk about what they’re up to and what they care about?


Let’s get the ball rolling:

What are some implications you see of how we apply Horizontal Marketing in college ministry?