Back-to-School Facebook Ad Ideas

Whether it’s photos of the kids on the first day or sharing great deals found while school supply shopping, Facebook has become a natural outlet for parents in back-to-school mode.

Facebook ads give your ministry the opportunity to grab the attention of these parents and invite them to an event like Back-to-School Sunday.

Let’s look at some specific back-to-school related ideas and tips.

Target Audience

The power of Facebook ads is in the targeting. And the power behind the most effective advertising is showing the right message to the right audience. You can build an audience first or you can specify an ad’s target while going through the ad creation process. The more specific you can make your audience, the more personal you can make the ad.

You should always target by location to ensure that Facebook only shows your ad to people who will realistically consider coming to your church. You can do this by specifying zip codes, city or town names, or a radius around a specific address. But, for a Back-to-School themed ad, we can be more specific than that. Here are some audiences to consider targeting:


The people who most need to hear about Back-to-School Sunday are parents.

When building your saved audience or creating the ad, look for the “Detailed Targeting” area, click on browse, and select demographics. Under demographics is a section called “Parents.”

Under “Parents” are two more sections. The “All Parents” option can target parents based on the age range of their children. Under “Moms,” you can target by the age of the children or by mom type—like soccer moms, stay-at-home moms, or trendy moms.


Facebook’s own data shows that “78% of the people who talk about back-to-school are women, and 42.7% of them are moms.” This means that a Back-to-School ad is much more likely to stand out to women.

You can have Facebook only show your ad to women by making the appropriate selection in the gender setting.

New Residents

Lots of families choose to move in the summer to avoid their children having to change schools mid-year. As the new school year rolls around, these families may being to think about restarting other routines, like going to church. Finding a church in the area with a great children’s program or family focus also offers them the chance to make new friends and connections.

In the “Detailed Targeting” area, click on browse, and select demographics. Under demographics is a section called “Life Events.” At the bottom of that section is “Recently moved.” Selecting this will target people who have changed the city in their Facebook profile within the last 6 months.

However, being a parent and being new to the area are two different factors. If you specify both in the first box under “Detailed Targeting,” Facebook will target people who are parents OR new to the area.

We want Facebook to show your ad to people who are parents AND new to the area. To do this, select one of the factors—like “Parents with Early School Age Children”—in the first box. You will now see a link below that box that reads “Narrow Audience.” When you click on it, a new entry box will appear where you can add a second required qualifier—like “Recently moved.”

Campaign Structure

There are 3 levels to a Facebook Ad Structure:


At the Campaign level, you define your goal.

If you simply want as many people as possible to see your ad, select one of the options under the “Awareness” column. If you want to send people to a page on your website (like a back-to-school landing page), click “Traffic” under the “Consideration” column.

Since we want to send people to select “Traffic” as your objective.

Ad Set

At the Ad Set level, you will define details like the target audience, ad placement, budget, and schedule.

If you selected “Traffic” as the goal at the Campaign level, make sure “Website or Messenger” is selected in the “Traffic” section. You will specify what link to send people to at the Ad level.

In the “Audience” section, define the target audience or select an audience you have pre-made by clicking on “Use a Saved Audience.”

In the “Placement” section, click “Edit Placements” and deselect Instagram, Audience Network, and Messenger. Click the triangle next to Facebook and deselect Instant Articles and Right Column. Your ad will now only be shown in people’s Facebook newsfeed.

In the “Budget & Schedule” section, you will first set your budget. You can choose to use a daily budget or lifetime budget. For either option, you should set a start date and end date for your campaign.

It is important to remember that budgets are specified at the same level as targeting. This means that each target audience will have their own budget.

As an example, let’s say that you want to target parents of elementary school students and parents of high school students separately. This is a good idea, as the imagery and language you use with each audience should be different (more on that soon). If you have a $100 budget, and you want to target each group equally, you would set the budget for each ad set at $50. If your church prioritizes younger families, perhaps you give the elementary school ad $70 and the high school ad $30.

If you want your ads to run all the time, you can skip the rest of the settings in this section. However, if you want customize it further, click the “Show Advanced Options” link.

Click the “Run ads on a schedule” radio button in the “Ad Scheduling” section. Here you can select which days and times you want Facebook to run your ad. For example, families think about church toward the end of the week, so you can set your ads to only run on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.


At the Ad level, you design the actual ad itself. You will choose the image(s) or video(s), the text of the ad, and where the link in the ad sends people if you chose “Traffic” as your Campaign objective.

The Creative

When designing the creative part of your ad, the images and text, you want to put yourself in the shoes of the audience you are targeting. What will capture their attention? What matters most to them?

According to Facebook, these are the most common topics discussed in back-to-school posts:

  • Planning – 23%
  • Pride and affection – 17%
  • Transitions – 16%

This gives you an idea of what kinds of things parents are thinking about as they interact on Facebook. If you can create an ad that connects to these topics or emotions, you have a better chance of meeting parents where they are.

Match the Creative to the Audience

Once you have a general theme in mind, you want to customize the ad to the specific audience you are targeting. You set up very specific audiences for a reason—now be intentional about the way you speak to them.

The first way you can be specific is in the imagery you use. The kinds of photos or video people with most is other people. A photo of a smiling kid is going to mean more to a parent than a generic photo of an apple sitting on a desk.

If you created audiences based on the age of children, you can match the general age of the kid(s) in the photo to that demographic. For example, use a photo of elementary schoolers when targeting parents of elementary schoolers, and use high schoolers when targeting parents of high schoolers.

IMPORTANT If you use photos or videos of minors from your own congregation, get specific permission from the parents first!

If you choose to do a video with someone extending a personal invitation, think about who would be the best person to do that. If you are targeting moms, it may be a good idea to have a mom from the congregation be the presenter.

The second way you can be specific is in the text of the ad or script for the video. Again, tailor what you say to the specific audience you are speaking to. For example, you might use a term like “kiddos” or a phrase like “little ones” when speaking to parents of elementary schoolers, but you wouldn’t do that with parents of high schoolers.

If you are targeting families who are new to the area, you can focus on Back-to-School Sunday being an opportunity to meet other families and get plugged into the community.

EXTRA CREDIT: Retargeting

In last week’s post on creating a landing page, there was an “Extra Credit” section that told you to add a Facebook Pixel to your website. If you did that, or can do that now, you have the ability retarget.

The way this works is that the Facebook Pixel makes a note of everyone who goes to your website, and it can recognize each individual page people visit. So, Facebook can create a target audience of people who have specifically been to your back-to-school landing page.

Since you know these people have already expressed interest in Back-to-School Sunday, you can design a follow up ad that makes a slightly different pitch. For example, you can run an ad targeted to this audience on the Thursday, Friday, and Saturday right before Back-to-School Sunday that uses phrases like “Don’t forget” or “We’re looking forward to seeing you!”

To do this, go the Audiences section of Ad Manager. Click the blue “Create Audience” button and select “Custom Audience.” In the box that pops up, select “Website Traffic.” Next, click the button that reads “All website visitors” and select “People who visited specific web pages.” Input the web address of your landing page, name the audience, and click “Create Audience.” Once Facebook generates a list of people who have visited that page on your website, you can select it from the list of saved audiences when creating an ad.

Back-to-School Series

Social Media Graphics
Landing Page
Facebook Ad Ideas
Blessing of Students, Teachers, and Parents

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