The problem: Poor results on Facebook

Does it seem like the content you publish on your Facebook page seems to get lower and lower organic reach with each passing day? Feel like you’re just throwing things at the wall, hoping something will stick?

Yes, it is becoming harder to actually reach the people that follow your Catholic church, school, or ministry on Facebook. As a result, it’s time to take a step back and figure out how to create a Catholic Facebook strategy that actually works.

A Facebook Case Study: Kolbe Shrine

It was clear that poor Facebook results were dogging many of our customers. (i.e., Catholic parishes, schools, dioceses, and ministries) As a result, we set out to create a strategy that could be replicated in unique ways by a variety of Catholic organizations. Building on concepts that had proven successful on our own Facebook page, we wanted to test our strategies elsewhere. We were curious: Could we achieve the expected results?

That’s when The National Shrine of St. Maximilian Kolbe at Marytown entered the scene. As suspected, they had grown frustrated with their Facebook performance. Their team agreed to take part in our Facebook Case Study, eager to get a boost and willing to try anything. They handed us the keys to the Kolbe Shrine Facebook page for six weeks, and our Facebook Case Study was in full swing. Here’s a step-by-step recap of what we did.

Step 1: Establish a professional appearance

Catholic Facebook Strategy

First, we noticed their page could use a Facebook facelift. We optimized the Kolbe Shrine page by making some simple improvements. The ultimate goal was to boost the page’s overall appearance by focusing on the following elements:

  • Profile Picture – We swapped their somewhat ominous, black-and-white profile picture with one that was more versatile and inviting.
  • Cover Photo (or Video) – The page’s original cover photo was exchanged for a 20-second cover video.
  • Page Name and Username – We tweaked the official page name and username to ensure clarity and consistency.
  • Verified Badge – We helped initiate the page verification process to improve the page’s Facebook search placement.
Step 2: Study the existing (old) strategy

Before we could develop a new content strategy, we needed to take a closer look at their existing methods. We asked: What types of posts were typically published? What worked? What didn’t work? Why?

Old strategy results

This exercise led to these conclusions:

  • Kolbe Shrine’s old strategy didn’t include much variety. A majority of their published posts were shared still images; mostly bulletin screenshots and Saint of the Day images.
  • Their methods weren’t working. Posts typically received a small number of likes and didn’t generate many (or any) comments or shares. The published content was not effectively reaching the page’s 4,000+ followers.
  • The content quality was poor. Much of Kolbe Shrine’s content was, frankly, boring. Bulletin screenshots and schedule announcements were not appealing to their followers.

Overall, the Kolbe Shrine team realized they needed to start thinking differently about how they produce content for Facebook. Regurgitating bulletin content onto their Facebook page wasn’t working.

Step 3: Identify what works

Catholic Facebook Strategy

Next, we led the Kolbe Shrine team in a simple exercise. We asked them to take a closer look at their personal Facebook newsfeeds. What types of content did Facebook serve them? Which posts did they find appealing, inspiring, or shareable? What types of content performed well?

The answers to these questions overwhelmingly pointed to one thing: Video. (For more on this, see Step 5…)

Video content is now a crucial piece of a successful Facebook strategy.

Step 4: Define the goal

Getting lots of likes, shares, and comments on Facebook is great. It makes you feel good and important. But there needs to be a higher goal, a tangible benefit. Why are you on Facebook in the first place? Who is your primary audience? What action are you trying to inspire?

We helped Kolbe Shrine develop a sort of mission statement for their use of Facebook:

Why was Kolbe Shrine on Facebook in the first place? To educate and inspire their followers by sharing the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe … so that their followers are inspired to visit Kolbe Shrine.

This statement would guide all their social media-related actions. If a piece of content couldn’t realistically inspire someone to visit, it wasn’t worth creating.

Step 5: Build video templates

Based on the exercise in Step 3, we knew we wanted to create and test video content for Kolbe Shrine. So, we built two video templates. The resulting video files would be uploaded directly to Facebook and would include the following characteristics of high-performing Facebook videos:

  • A square (1:1) aspect ratio (often with title bars on the top and bottom)
  • Captions (or the ability to be viewed and understood without sound)
  • Interesting, unique, or inspiring content

Creating high-quality video takes time, creativity, and the right tools. The two templates took some of the stress out of the video creation process.

>> Not sure where to start? Need video software? Beginners should check out Adobe Spark Video.

Did it actually work? Digesting the results

Over the course of six weeks, we used the templates to produce and publish two types of videos:

Kolbe Facts – A story about the life of St. Maximilian Kolbe

Kolbe Facts: The Man He Saved video results

This example of a video created using the Kolbe Facts template garnered 3,100+ video views, 220+ likes, 116 shares, and 5 comments. >> Watch video on Facebook

Kolbe Quotes – A quote from (or about) St. Maximilian Kolbe

Kolbe Quote video results
This example of a video created using the Kolbe Quote template garnered 2,800+ video views, 165 likes, 41 shares, and a handful of comments. >> Watch video on Facebook

Based on these results, it became clear that a successful Catholic Facebook strategy should include inspiring, educational, unique video content. Getting to that point requires a dose of creativity, unconventional thinking, and a broad vision of how to evangelize on Facebook.