The Church of England was relatively new to social media when it launched a campaign ahead of Christmas 2016 to connect with those people who identify as Christian but who rarely attend church. Using the hashtag #JoyToTheWorld, the Church of England shared four videos telling the story of Christmas from different perspectives, and explaining what joy it brought them.
Using Facebook Ad targeting, the Church identified people who may be receptive to its video messages. It targeted people using ‘soft wording’ associated with Christmas, such as mince pies or mulled wine, and also those using Christian terms, such as nativity and Advent. Fans of Gogglebox were also targeted, because one of the videos featured Reverend Kate Bottley, who formerly starred in the show, sharing how busy Christmas is for her, such as helping parishioners put up their trees, but also her excitement. The other films featured Christian comedian Paul Kerensa, Chaplain to the House of Commons, Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin and author of Becoming Revered, Reverend Matt Woodcock.
The videos were shared across Facebook, Twitter and YouTube and were viewed almost 750,000 times. More than 270,000 people watched the Reverend Kate’s video. It was the first time that the Church had run a targeted national social campaign.
The call to action from the videos led to www.AChristmasNearYou.com, a mobile-first website that listed more than 34,000 Church of England services and events. The Church also bought up keywords such as Carol Service and Midnight Mass in the final 48 hours of the campaign to drive traffic to the site, which received more than 133,000 views. Nearly half the traffic came from Facebook.
The campaign achieved its aim: people went to church. Users took to social media to report ‘the biggest congregation in living memory’ for their services. For example, St Paul’s Spennymoor tweeted #JoyToTheWorld is hundreds of people queueing to enjoy our Christmas Eve Christingle and Nativity service!
The judges said: ‘This achieved great results for a first attempt. The Church of England achieved cut through at a time when there is a huge amount of commercial activity. But they told their story well, which is what it is all about.’