Lost Opportunities: Faith, Giving, and Social Media
By Ron Sellers
Grey Matter Research
Introduction by Mark Dreistadt
For many years I have talked about the value of research over “me-search.”
- Me-search is an expression of our personal feelings, perceptions, or even historical perspective… and it is often 100% wrong.
- Research is the systematic investigation of data in order to establish facts and reach new and accurate conclusions.
When Infinity Concepts is conducting research for our clients, we often lean on Ron Sellers at Grey Matter Research to help us ask the right questions—in the right way—to the right people—in order to reach the right conclusions.
Recently, Grey Matter conducted some research regarding nonprofits and social media. I asked Ron to be our guest blogger and share some of his findings with you.
If you discovered that your organization is about half as effective as it could be in a certain area, would you see that as a problem? If you’re thinking, “Of course,” then social media should be a concern for you.
Although the vast majority of American adults have a social media profile, nonprofits, churches, and ministries as a whole have far less penetration into the social media world than they could. Consider the following from a Grey Matter Research study:
- Only 38% of American social media users are connected to a charity or nonprofit organization on social media (including 52% of donors and 28% of non-donors).
- Just 36% of social media users are connected to a religious congregation or the leader of a religious congregation. In fact, 45% of those who regularly attend worship services are not connected to their own congregation on social media; 58% are not connected to a religious leader from their own congregation.
- Among those who don’t regularly attend worship services, 10% are connected to a religious congregation (and that may not be a Christian group).
In other words, while people are busy giving Facebook likes, viewing fail compilations on YouTube, and learning new Tik Tok dances, it’s likely that about half of your own donors or your own congregation aren’t connected to you on social media.
That’s the very definition of “lost opportunity.”
Although we keep hearing about how the Internet represents a terrific outreach opportunity for ministries, the simple fact is 90% of those who are not inside the real doors of a congregation are not inside the digital doors, either. (Note that the data were gathered prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, so the numbers are not influenced by pandemic shut-downs.)
Keep in mind that all we explored was whether people are connected to organizations like yours, not whether they value this connection, read/see what you post, find it interesting or valuable, help promote your message, and/or connect with you through multiple platforms. All of these are open questions.
One of the reasons for the lack of effective reach may be because social media is “free;” it doesn’t cost anything to be on Twitter or Instagram. But “free” often unintentionally translates into “we’ll invest just as much in it as it costs us—little or nothing.” Social media takes time, talent, and strategy. You can’t just post a few things and hope people connect with you, or turn it over to Volunteer Cindy because “she likes computers” and expect the outreach to be effective.
When the Internet was young, many organizations rushed to create a website. Why? Well…because…um…we need one! There was no strategy; no thought about the purpose of having a website or what it was meant to accomplish. Was it to communicate with your own constituents? To reach out to non-constituents with the hope of bringing them into the fold? To build your brand? To raise money? To show how contemporary and forward-thinking you are? To promote a message or raise awareness? Without a strategy behind it, many organizations ended up with websites that “sorta-kinda” tried to do all this stuff and ended up not accomplishing much at all.
That’s where experts such as Infinity Concepts can add substantial value—by helping you crystalize a strategy, decide which social media channels to focus on, and create a strategic, effective, ongoing approach, not just to social media, but to your overall digital communication strategy. And as our research shows, a whole lot of organizations need this kind of help.
Lost Opportunities—Faith, Giving, and Social Media is available from Grey Matter Research and Harmon Research. For the full report, feel free to e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is it time to evaluate your social media strategies? A cohesive plan may be just what you need.
Click here or call us today at 724.733.1200.
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