How Churches and Their Members Use Social Media

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Using Quill Pens in an Internet Age

"Thousands of churches are not walking through the unprecedented number of open doors social networking has provided them," Says Hutchins

A just released National study by BuzzPlant, a leading internet marketing firm focusing on the faith-based market segment, shows that churches across America are not taking advantage of the social networking phenomena that has revolutionized interpersonal communications in the 21st Century.

"Thousands of churches are not walking through the unprecedented number of open doors social networking has provided them," says Bob Hutchins, Owner of BuzzPlant, the Franklin, TN firm that has executed on-line campaigns for such clients as The Chronicles of Narnia movie series and developed marketing strategies for the likes of Sony, Zondervan Press, General Motors and Twentieth Century Fox. "American churches have millions of people on their rolls who do not feel connected today because churches, as a whole, have failed to effectively connect with them as the times dictate." Hutchins further likened church's languid pace of contemporary communication to a continuance to use quill pens after the advent of the printing press. "To not be proactive in wireless communications today is to not be communicating", says Hutchins.

The BuzzPlant Study entitled, "How Do People of Faith Use Social Media?", surveyed churches across the country exploring their levels of involvement in the social media explosion which is not only becoming a marketing powerhouse but the point of connectivity between people of all generations. The study showed that while almost half of surveyed churches have some sort of social media presence, such as on Facebook, the vast majority use it poorly or are not committed to maximizing the effectiveness it offers the church to connect with its members and promote the connectedness that people need and are increasingly turning to social networking to satisfy.

"Sixty-two percent of churches have their sermons on a website or do a pod-cast," Bob Hutchins reports, "but that is not much better than an upgraded xeroxing of sermons for people to pick up at next week's service." The BuzzPlant study shows that only 28% of the churches surveyed post a blog by their pastor, that only 32% use social media to get feedback from the membership and only 25% always use social media in the promotion of special church events and activities.

The study shows that the larger the church, the more likely it is to use social media to stay connected with its members. The 1,000 member and larger churches use it for small group and friend connections, special event promotion and youth activities. The smaller churches, 150-300 members, are most prone to use the medium to obtain feedback from its members.

Hutchins found the blogging results of the survey interesting. Relatively few of the surveyed churches have blogging pastors yet fully half of their congregations follow the blog of nationally prominent pastors, such as John Piper and his http://www.desiringgod.org/blog. The survey also showed that 68% of local church members would like to connect with their local leaders through blogging or other social media.

The message to churches from these results is clear: put the quill pens away and get with the times. As Bob Hutchins puts it, "There has never been a better opportunity to connect with large numbers of people on a personal basis as is being offered the modern American Church.

To download a copy of the survey, please use
http://www.buzzplant.com/site/surveys/survey_results_church_sm.pdf

For more information about BuzzPlant, visit http://www.buzzplant.com.

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BOB HUTCHINS

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