Social Media and the Church – Part I – The Feedback Loop

Suggestion-boxIf we really want our churches to grow and reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, than we want to get feedback on how we are doing. One of the greatest problems that I have seen within the local church is the source of all of the feedback and criticism that comes to them. I’ve heard it said that the church is the only organization that exists for the people who aren’t yet there. If that’s the case, the main place for feedback and criticism to come from should really be those same people who aren’t coming on a regular basis. There are plenty of ways to get that feedback from those who are not yet part of your faith community, among those means is social media.

Let’s face it, there are many times when feedback/criticism comes to the local church via emails, phone calls, and even “Suggestion Boxes” (if you’re stupid bold enough to have one of those). But the people who are already there have already made a conscious effort to be there and if they are offering suggestions, chances are that they’ve been there more than once and have established some kind of relationship with you. Granted, this isn’t always the case, but more often than not, it is the case. How about the people that you would consider to be your target? How do you get feedback from them?

There are plenty of ways to get that kind of feedback, if you are willing and are not afraid to do things a little differently. Going door to door is probably not recommended, but that’s a topic for another day. How can you reach out and gain feedback from people digitally? We have a website, you might say. A website is fine and good, but how specific can you get with the visits to your site? Websites can do a lot of things, but they don’t always offer the same mechanisms for feedback that you can get through social media. Creating pages on Facebook or tweeting out announcements via Twitter can expand the capabilities of churches.

I’m not sure what the difference is in the likelihood of someone clicking on an email link from a website versus commenting on a Facebook page or writing a FB message. If feedback and input is important, especially for those who are not yet a part of your faith community, what’s the best mechanism and medium for making that happen? Websites can tend towards more sterile data such as views and locations versus the somewhat more personal connection that can be gained from social media.

There are exceptions to every rule, but the ability to actually see the people who you are connecting with, see their demographic information, get a small glimpse (depending on privacy settings) of who they are, that’s all information that is not as accessible from a website as it is from having a page on social media.

Creating a page on Facebook also uses the engines that are already in place, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. With a few simple keystrokes, you can get a lot of information right in front of you which allows you to see who you’re reaching with your posts. That can allow you to make the proper course corrections if necessary or to continue to forge ahead with what you’re doing. Are you reaching who you thought you were? Are you reaching who you want to reach? If not, you can make changes, but you can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.

The feedback/criticism piece is deeply connected to Part III – The Ripple Effect, but that will come in a few days. In the meantime, come back tomorrow for Part II – Keeping Up with Your Peeps and then the next day, we’ll hit on The Ripple Effect.

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