Yesterday we looked at the By the Numbers research project that I have been slaving away at and for those that enjoy the tl;dr style of recapping: I don’t want to base my social media and web recommendations for churches based off of opinion or individual experiences, so I am compiling data so the Church can do better online ministry.
Today we will look at the analysis outcomes for solid data to be presented.
You won’t get all the data unless you purchase the eBook, but I did want to share with you what I am looking for out of the data points I shared on yesterday. The hope is that we can come up with some standards for what churches currently are doing as a foundation to leap forward and improve the impact the church can have with the Gospel.
What Are People Using
I have worked with a variety of clients in an assortment of situations, whether they are a large church that is wanting to simply improve their social media process, a small church that is wanting to begin online and start well, or a large organization with thousands of staff and hundreds of sites all over the world. The first question I inevitably get is “what are people using?” To this point, I have been skirting that answer and instead telling them where many people are at, noting the active user statistics that come out typically every quarter.
The datasets we have collected are focused in on what social networks people are using. It is not enough to note that Facebook is huge. We get that. But are churches actually online there, posting a certain amount, and making progress with promotion or engagement? Further, is the audience large enough to make an impact online?
What Should I Link Online
Having established what is being used online, social media, websites, tweets or Instagram images, are they connecting their online presences? You’d think it should be an easy yes to say that people are linking social media accounts from their church website and reverse. You’d be wrong. And maybe for good reason too.
The concern here is that your church may have hundreds, up to tens of thousands, of connections online but if you are not connecting them to your website and your website to your social media, you are running independent accounts. What if you ran things cohesively instead of independently?
This is the advice I give when I instruct people to engage online, but we need to see what is actually being done. As standard may be different from the business world’s established best practices.
What Should I Post
You have your online platforms, you have connected them all effectively. Great. But how are you using your platform to post? Is your content being effective with proper branding and hashtags? Are you capitalizing on the ability to share Facebook posts with media that give you more bang for your buck?
By no means am I analyzing individual tweets as this would be an insanely large task for a very simple outcome nor do I have the time and energy to devote to such a cause. That being said, a simple analysis could suggest if churches are making the most of what they post. Or is it simply about throwing some content out for people to see and moving forward with the online presence in that manner? A follow up qualitative research project with individual churches could give more insight into this process, but for now we will stick with our quantitative approach.
How Frequently Should I Post?
One of the best ideas that gets lost in translation among online presence and digital ministries as I have done consulting is “how frequently should I post?” There are generalized ideals for online brands overall, but I have never seen what actually is happening with churches online. This analysis hits that point immediately.
Further, I wonder if more or less frequently is even on the radars of people or are they struggling with even coming up with content to post in general? This question goes beyond the analysis of this dataset but could be another future point to revisit.
I have about a hundred questions that I would love to be answered by this project but ultimately we need to start at the beginning and that is the whole purpose. What are churches actually doing online? I love that they are doing something and I hope that they are doing it for a purpose and fully for the Kingdom of God.
What I would urge you and your church to do is to take a look at the data that will be coming out at the end of the week on our infographic and eBook and look at what your church is doing as well. I do not anticipate you comparing your church’s social media and website presence with other churches, but I do hope you will take the results that come about and make an intentional and conscious decision to do more with what you have if you have the capacity to do so.
I foresee huge things for the church if we can approach this medium with intentionality, faithfulness, and humility that would allow the Holy Spirit to enter the online world as much as we let it impact our communities and selves. If we want to reach the ends of the world as Jesus commanded us to do so, that would include our digital presence as well.