Over the past couple weeks, in both my practice with congregations and with small businesses, I’ve encountered the same question from three very different organizations. Can the switch to online communications be iterative, of do we just make it at one time?
The answer, of course, is “it depends.”
In this blog, I’m going to explore the factors to weigh when a congregation is facing this situation.
- Be clear-eyed about your facts: Nationwide, the move toward social networking sites is unmistakable. In most categories (race, education, income, and urbanity), the percentages of social media adoption are nearly equal.
Lesson: Despite the cries of some, social media is no passing fad. You will have to make the switch eventually.
- Be clear-eyed about your facts (Part 2): While social media adoption is consistent across many categories, in one important area, a yawning gulf remains–age. For people age 18-29 a staggering 90 percent are on some sort of social media. But for those 65 and over, the percentage is still (slightly) below 50 percent.
Lesson: Look carefully at your demographics. If your congregation is older, pay attention to that fact.
- Are You Ready?: The time required to establish and perfect protocols for going to social media as your prime means of contact with your congregation should be carefully considered. Just because it’s online doesn’t mean it can be done quickly. In fact, moving to social media will require training in technologies and developing content for your staff, even if they’re experienced with social media. And, moving in this direction will fundamentally change the way you and your staff work together. I will argue for the better, but make no mistake, it is a significant transition.
Lesson: Don’t gloss over the difficulties involved in making this transition.
- Do Your Members Want It?: Listen, the fact is there are some communities that will never be comfortable moving to social media. Smaller churches with older congregations and little new blood coming through the doors can be a difficult sale. We all reach a time in our lives where we’re tired of keeping up with Joneses.
Lesson: You can’t force change.
- Are Your Ready to Teach?: Even if your congregation is ripe for the change, there will need to be clear communication about how things are changing, why they’re changing, and when the changes will occur. Failing to do so will leave even power-users perplexed.
Lesson: Just because people are savvy about social media, doesn’t mean they’ll understand how social media is being implemented and how you intend to use it. No more that those who love to read paper will understand how to find information if you don’t have pre-set, determined, and known locations for the print publications you now produce.
Have you detected a theme? The onus for any such switch is on the leadership. Not the people in your congregation.
So educate yourself, seek advice on how to understand how social media will affect your workflow, and be prepared to walk patiently beside your community as you take this next step.
Sacred Language Communications is here to help. Questions about making the switch from print to social media? Call (540-498-5994) or write us!