I asked the following question on Twitter:
Would your church spend money every month to measure, track & engage what’s being said or asked about your church/ministries across social media?
Oh, if it were only that easy. Well, in a sense, it is – if you only want limited statistics. But there’s more to measurement than click-thrus and page loads.
In fact, I’ve used some amazing software from Radian6 that allows me to compare, analyze, report, and engage with people using social media. Measurement is good, but we need a way to connect, share and relate.
Measuring More Than Numbers
Let’s use an analogy everyone in church is familiar with: attendance numbers.
While it’s helpful to measure total attendance during weekend services, it’s more helpful to know who was there, what service they went to, if they volunteered, where they volunteered, how often they come to the services, how much (if anything) they give financially, what small groups they’re involved with and what kind of growth (i.e., life-change) they’ve experienced.
It’s good to know who showed up. It’s better to know more about those people than the fact that they’re a warm body in an empty seat.
With Social Networks, measuring page views, number of Twitter followers and the quantity of Facebook friends is a very narrow metric system. Many of the answers to my question were based on the fact that, yes, it’s easy and free to get basic stats. But to actually have a cross section of data points (measurement across all social networks simultaneously) and the ability to track, measure and actually engage with people from those metrics is where the strategic value provides a strong social networking strategy.
After all, social networks are: A) social – meaning connections, conversations and relationships; and B) networks – meaning an exponential reach.
Churches Need an Online Strategy
Many pastors I talk with ask a very simple yet very relevant question:
“Why should our church care about social networking?”
The answer is simple: because the local church is best at reaching out to people. What happens inside the four walls of the church (relationship building, community, sharing, support & encouragement) is exactly what happens on social networks! Therefore, the church is best equipped to do exactly what they do offline, online via web and social media.
Without an online communications strategy, a church will spend a lot of time trying to use a social networks as a marketing vehicle rather than as a relational connection. That strategy will require more than baseline metrics; it will require an ability to measure, track & engage with people online proactively.
Use the free measurement tools all you want, but until your church has a way to not only see metrics, but measure holistically, accurately and in (or near) real-time, you’re still just counting heads!
Putting a Price on Relationships (Theoretically)
If a church could find conversations, answer questions, build relationships, and establish a reputation for being personal and relevant, what would that be worth? How do you measure the value of helping people get connected into a local body of believers and connecting the local body in service to the community? I think most churches spend quite a lot on it! Just look at all of the hard costs (salaries, facilities, technology, supplies, etc.) and soft costs (time, volunteer coordination, content creation, etc.) that goes into each and every weekend at churches, through events, and community service.
I think there’s a better way with social media. I think churches can do more than passively count click-thrus. I think the answer is in developing an online communications strategy, and I’m here to do it for them or show them how. It’s time for churches to embrace the digital culture!
If you’re ready to learn how, let’s set up a phone conference and find the right strategy for your church:
Go ahead and share your thoughts below in the comments.