Give me that on-line religion!

As I am writing this post on Easter Sunday, I thought I’d take a peek at how religions relate to marketing and marketing efforts.

It has become a point of faith (forgive the pun) that integrated communications and social media are essential to marketing in the modern world. But does it make sense for selling that old-time religion?

Brandon Vogt thinks so (Schaffer, 2015). Vogt, who blogs at www.brandonvogt.com, uses his blog as a way to share his Catholicism in the online sphere. He noted in in an interview (Schaffer, 2015) that doing so allows him to reach a wide variety of people and start to engage them in discourse, whether they Catholics, Protestants or atheists.

“Look at any comment box and chances are you’ll see a panoply of characters: angry teenagers, joyous mothers, radical socialists, immature zealots, and more,” he said. “Blogging allows a probing skeptic who would never darken the doors of a church to stumble into a conversation with a priest.”

Josh Steimle (2015) noted in a Forbes article that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly known as the Mormons or the LDS church), has worked hard to become a strong user of social media, search-engine optimization (SEO) and other strategies to spread the faith. The church leaders actively seek to use established best practices for SEO, noting that doing so makes it much easier to both serve the needs of people looking for information on the church and also to spread information to people who might be curious about the church. (Steimle, 2015).

As with so many other organizations, it’s a growing way to spread a message. The Pew Research Center (2014)  noted that 20 percent of U.S. adults had expressed their faith online – a number comparable to the number of those who watched religious programming on television (23 percent) or listened to religious programming on the radio. (20 percent). On the other hand, 40 percent of Americans shared their faith somehow in person.

But though, as Vogt noted (Schafer, 2015), the online environment can allow a skeptic to engage with believers in a less public environment; the Pew study showed that people who view religious material online and share their own faith online also tend to be the people for whom religion plays a strong role in their lives – Half of those who attend religious services weekly have viewed religious materials online and 31 percent have shared their own faith; on the other hand, 39 percent of those who say they seldom or never attend services said they have viewed religious content online, and only 8 percent have shared their own beliefs online.

Steimle (2015) suggested that one key element for religious organizations working in social media is to remember the social element. No matter how well the LDS church organizes its own online presence, he said, it gets the most engagement and the most response from people who find their way to the church via the sites and discussions of individual believers.

That is the key takeaway for me – it’s the discussion and the real human contact  — that seem to make the difference.

REFERENCES

Pew Research Center (2014, November 6). Religion and electronic media. Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life. Retrieved from: http://www.pewforum.org/2014/11/06/religion-and-electronic-media/

Schaffer, N. (2015, August 27). Ancient religions and new media: A match made in heaven. Maximize Social Business website. Retrieved from: http://maximizesocialbusiness.com/religion-and-social-media-5086/

Steimle, J. (2105, April 24). How Mormons use the Internet to spread the Good Word. Forbes Online. Retrieved from: http://www.forbes.com/sites/joshsteimle/2015/04/24/how-mormons-use-the-internet-to-spread-the-good-word/#1b3591a62866

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Give me that on-line religion!

  1. Kimberly says:

    Very interesting post! I personally think in this age of digital media, religious organizations should definitely be on social media and have up to date websites, if not just to provide support for current members. I think that the days of going door to door are a thing of the past!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Interesting post, James!

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormon) myself, I started reading your blog and thought of my church and then saw you mentioned it.

    The LDS church has an awesome online presence and shares uplifting messages. I go to church each week, but it’s nice to see uplifting and inspirational message all week long on my social media. And then, I am able to tag and share the message with my friends and family and it then turns into them being inspired and uplifted themselves. It has been a great way to spread the message of the religion and not only help members but to share messages to those who are not members.

    Interesting post and thanks for sharing!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Interesting post, James!

    As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (aka Mormon) myself, I started reading your blog and thought of my church and then saw you mentioned it.

    The LDS church has an awesome online presence and shares uplifting messages. I go to church each week, but it’s nice to see uplifting and inspirational message all week long on my social media. And then, I am able to tag and share the message with my friends and family and it then turns into them being inspired and uplifted themselves. It has been a great way to spread the message of the religion and not only help members but to share messages to those who are not members. But the online social media is an extension of church on Sundays.

    Interesting post and thanks for sharing!

  4. huanlin says:

    Hi James,

    I agree that religious organizations should definitely use social media to spread their believes because that’s where everyone is in the digital era. Social media would allow them to communicate with people all around the world without time and space limits. However I also have some concern over the increasing persuasion power religious organizations may get through social media. There are some religious organizations using social media to suppress other religions or believes which could be pretty upsetting. Hope to see more and more positive online religions in the future.

  5. Yvonne says:

    Jim this is an interesting post and a very relevant one as I see religious institutions trying to come into the 21st century and embrace media. I even saw it at my own church in our leadership discussions of how to market our church more and reengage a younger generation. But you’re right, at the end of the day, the church is the people and the reason come back, besides wanting to be enlightened, challenged, encouraged and comforted is for the community and no amount of sophisticated social media or marketing will ever replace that. If the people are terrible, that will soon be discovered because the overly polished, beautifully marketed programs and website will fade if the people are not what was promised.

    Great points there!
    Yvonne