Get Beyond Just Marketing the Church

According to this article, “Google searches for churches are 15% lower than the first half of this decade,” and, “searches questioning God’s existence are up.”

The bad news pours in. “Many [search] behaviors that he [God] supposedly abhors have skyrocketed. Porn searches are up 83 percent. For heroin, it’s 32 percent.” says the article.

What can we do with this information?

We can be more pro-active. A website online is only the first step for a church. The next should be to create an online team similar to what Focus on the Family have in their Digital Engagement Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Trained counselors are online looking for people who are searching for answers.

“This newly constructed, state-of-the-art social media command center uses cutting-edge technology to help our family-help specialists directly reach families searching online for advice to life’s challenges. In the past, we were only able to help people who came to us for help. And while hundreds of thousands of people do come to us for help every month, we’re also very excited about being able to proactively seeking out people who may not know Focus offers this kind of support.” From here in 2013.

Googling For God continues to point out God is on the downward trend (2015) according to social media. Whether the numbers are biased or not, this article gives us useful information. Combine this information with listening software, we may be able to reach people who are Googling porn, heroin, or things that God abhors.

Listening software is something businesses use to trace the use of their brands by other people with or without hash tags or the @ symbol. The Huffington Post said brands should be using these five social media listening softwares:

Google Alerts: Google Alerts is a basic way to discover when a website is posting about you. However, it doesn’t capture everything and it certainly doesn’t cover social media or most blog sites. Still, it’s a good, automated, entry-level way to get some feedback about any kind of search query emailed to you. Sign up (if you want instant results, mark “as-it-happens” under “how often”).

Hootsuite/TweetDeck: Both Hootsuite and TweetDeck offer some tools to consolidate and manage your social media accounts. You can also add search columns that are scanning Twitter in real time. Not everyone who tweets about you will be using your hashtag or tagging you so this is a convenient way to spot what is being discussed and reply immediately.

Icerocket: Icerocket specializes in blog searches. Their “big buzz” option also captures activity on Facebook, Twitter, and image sites such as Flickr too. It’s free, easy to use, and does not require registration of an account.

Social Mention: Social Mention collects aggregated data across multiple platforms. You’ll see results from Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, photobucket, etc. and there are some basic analytics that help you determine if the sentiment is positive or negative, how many different sources are active, etc. It’s also free and doesn’t require registration.

Topsy:Topsy is similar to Icerocket and Social Mention; the main focus is around social media, especially multimedia and blogs. You don’t have to register, but you do have the option of creating an email alert (it ties into your Twitter or Facebook).

Interestingly enough, Googling For God said Sundays showed an increase search for Bible most Sundays and when the Boston Bomber caused chaos, looking for God’s Word decreased as searches for information on the Boston Bomber increased. The author goes on with graphs and numbers detailing his find about God and social media.

So Cataclysm is going to conduct an experiment using these listening softwares and keyword searches to see if we can toss a net into the world of social media to seek out and talk to people.

We’ll be posting along the way as we learn and navigate the internet. Stay tuned.

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