Last time, I explored the idea that we are in a “post-website world.” Because of this, it is important that we learn how to get our message in front of our audience where they are. And the data show that they are on social networks. But this sometimes leads ministry leaders to the wrong conclusion, as I discuss in my book:
Many will look at these data and this shift toward more interactive and social online activity and draw the conclusion that their ministry should build its own social network or other interactive site. This is absolutely the wrong conclusion! If you knew that your potential au- dience went to Starbucks every day and you wanted to engage with them, would you first build your own coffeehouse down the street and then tell them, “Come to my shop; I’ll be waiting”? No. Your best strategy would be to go to Starbucks yourself and interact with them there. There are very few situations in which creating your own environment for interacting with your audience makes sense.
In order to successfully reach your audience, you must go where they are. I call this “getting in the stream.” Every one of us has a digital stream of information that we immerse ourselves in every day. Think about it, when you get in front of your computer or mobile phone, where do you automatically go? Facebook, email, text messages, Twitter…these are just a few of the “streams” that are out there that pass in front of our eyes every day.
To effectively get our audience’s attention, then, we must understand what streams they use and then develop a strategy for putting ourselves into those streams. And we cannot just assume we know which streams they use! Your audience may favor Twitter over Facebook, text messages over email, or videos over all of them. Research is such an important step in understanding our audience. In my next post, I will discuss some methods for researching which streams your audience uses and how you can best insert yourself into those streams.
Do you think that it is futile to build your own social network? In which cases might it make sense? Share your thoughts with me in the comments.