Social Media – What’s the Point?

Yesterday, Dan King had an excellent post on Church Crunch. In it he made the point (in the title no less) that social media is a conversation not a destination.

To summarize, social media does not work like traditional marketing, where we promote something in order to try to get the viewer/listener/reader to take a specific action. Social media works by building a relationship with people until they trust you enough to join you in what you’re doing.

The article prompted an excellent question posted to the comments by Ben Woodard:

What would be the best way to measure the success of social media for a church? # of Followers, # of fans, response to calls of action?

Dan’s article and Ben’s questions got me thinking on two points.

  1. Is social media really a conversation?
  2. If so, what should we be measuring?

One Social Media Process

If you read between the lines, Dan’s article walks us through one possible process for how a person might engage with your organization through social media.

  1. View – The first thing someone does is they follow your Twitter feed or they become a fan of your Facebook page. At this point, they have started viewing your tweets and updates.
  2. Engage – The next thing a person might do is engage with you. This is the conversation. They retweet you, comment on a Facebook update, or post a comment on your blog.
  3. Act – Eventually, you hope the person moves from engagement to action. If you’re a business, you hope they buy something. If you’re a church, you hope they come to a service.

With this process, an organization’s primary goal is to get people to act. And like any process, there are steps or sub-goals. It’s important to monitor people’s progress through the process so we can see how well we’re doing that and where people may be getting stuck along the way.

Based on this process with these goals, we would want to measure all 3 steps in the process: followers, engagement, and actions.

Is that the only point?

That process is one of the ways social media can work. But is it the only way?

I don’t think so.

Take for example the Center for Church Communications. They’re primarily about engaging people in a conversation about how churches can communicate more effectively. Their primary goal is engagement not any specific action (though after I publish this they may tell me otherwise. :) )

Another example of a different process is a church that decides it’s not going to engage people through social media, but instead they just want to use social media as a way to deliver news to their members. They set up a Facebook Page and a Twitter account and just post links to news and announcements because that’s the way their members want to get their news. In this case, the church would want to track fans/followers and perhaps actions (like completion of online registration forms for classes/activities if they have them). But there’s no need to track engagement because engagement is not their goal.

Dell has generated $6.5M of sales through Twitter. There’s a metric for you.

Some companies use social media to resolve customer service issues. They measure the number of issues address each month.

What’s your point?

There are lots of possible goals an organization may want to accomplish with social media. What about your organization?

Has your organization defined its social media goal? If so, what are they?

Is your organization tracking metrics related to social media? If so, are those metrics based on your goals?

Paul Steinbrueck is co-founder and CEO of OurChurch.Com, elder of CypressMeadows.org, husband, father of 3, blogger. You can follow him on Twitter at @PaulSteinbrueck and add him to your circles at Google+ as +Paul Steinbrueck.

10 Responses to “Social Media – What’s the Point?”

  1. Thanks for expounding on my question. I'm in the process of working up a social media strategy for our church and this is very helpful.

    • Cool! I hope you'll share some of the details. Most churches have no social media strategy/goals and would benefit immensely from seeing the examples of those who do.

  2. Great post. We had a meeting last week to discuss our social media strategy for Thrive Church (http://www.thrivechurch.cc) Went very well and working on our formal strategy.

    I think the number one issue/hurdle is what denotes success? Is it followers on Twitter? Fans on FB? or butts in seats? Hard to quantify it all to decide effectiveness…

    • Hey Scott, glad to hear your meeting went well. Like I said in the post, I think it all comes down to what you're trying to do with your social media efforts. Is it just to distribute news to members? Is it to connect and engage with people outside your church and hope they eventually do something with your church offline? Your goals should determine your metrics.

  3. First of all, thanks for continuing the conversation! I'm glad that I was able to be a part of something that sparked such great conversation and thinking!

    Second, I love how you framed this! I think that you hit it right on the head. I know that what you say here holds true in many other projects that I take on. How you measure really depends on what you want to accomplish.

    Thanks!
    Dan King

    • Hey Dan, thanks for stopping by to comment and for your post on ChurchCrunch. I was just checking out your blog and noticed you're only about an hour south of me and you were in Kenya last year too. Lots in common. Look forward to interacting with you more going forward.

  4. This whole idea of social media is intriging to this 48-year-old bi-vocational pastor of a moderately fundamental church of 50-60, which has been getting more and more focused on evangelism. How would tchno-phobe get something started, and how much time would keeping it going involve? Anyone out there who was in a similar boat and decided of follow Christ's bidding and step out onto the water?

    • Pastor Kermit, great question! I don't think I can answer it directly, but I can try to point you in the right direction…

      Social media has its own distinct culture. If told me your church was interested in expanding its ministry into any other culture – a foreign country, an Indian reservation, or a prison – I would suggest you start by getting to know the people and the culture first. It's the same thing with social media.

      For example, if you're interested in using Facebook for ministry, start by creating your own personal profile in Facebook, connect with others you know who are already on Facebook, and observe how they interact. Then begin interacting with them. Find some other churches that are using Facebook and watch what they are doing. Once you understand the culture of Facebook, then you'll have a good idea of the possible things your church could do on Facebook. Same thing goes for Twitter, or starting a blog, or any other social media.

  5. This whole idea of social media is intriging to this 48-year-old bi-vocational pastor of a moderately fundamental church of 50-60, which has been getting more and more focused on evangelism. How would tchno-phobe get something started, and how much time would keeping it going involve? Anyone out there who was in a similar boat and decided of follow Christ's bidding and step out onto the water?

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