Strategies for the New Evangelization: Mass Media vs. Social Media

Mass Media vs Social MediaLast week we compared our preferred method of receiving information with how we communicate with our families. Interestingly, but as I had imagined, we still depend on traditional methods for our own communication but have only just begun to initiate the use of social media. Is using digital methods of communication enough, or are there other reasons to consider the use of social media?

Consider these statistics:

  • 39% of churches use social media
  • 62% of churches post homilies/sermons to a website as text or audio (podcast)
  • 28% of church pastors have a blog
  • 25% of churches use social media to promote parish events
  • 66% of churches do not use social media to get feedback from members
  • 50% of churches have a presence on Facebook
  • 68% of local church members want to connect with their church via social media

The last statistic is the most telling of all. Currently, at least 2/3 of our members want to connect to their church via social media! This week we’ll compare Mass Media with Social Media to see what benefits, if any, there are to more widely use Social Media as a viable means of communicating with and connecting to our communities.

Mass Media

Think about it. Not that long ago, Mass Media was the only effective system used for reaching the masses.  It was used on all media such as television, radio, magazines, and newspapers. There were fewer choices for consumers which made mass media very effective. On the top three syndicated networks on TV and radio, people at the top made the decisions for everyone else below concerning programming, access to news, and advertising.

Corporate “Generals” such as electric, mills, motors, and foods dominated the markets, and the little guys rarely stood and chance of reaching the Masses. Consumers were at the mercy of their decisions and products, but didn’t seem to mind.

The system worked, and is still effective, but new demands have arisen as consumers have become more selective. Remember Burger King when they customized burgers with their “Have it your way” campaign?  They recognized the potential for individualized preference and adapted their approach and service to accommodate. Producers since have become much more innovative, and with the Internet, consumers have become much more savvy.

Social Media

Enter social media. Niche marketers now connect with their followers building loyal fan bases at a fraction of the costs! Companies (and churches) are wise to seek consumer feedback. In this sense we have become a bottom up economy. Let’s face  it, social media is here to stay. People use social media to stay connected, so why shouldn’t we use the dominant means of communication to connect our niche groups? By utilizing social media, we can use Social Media to communicate with and connect to our communities.

The Connected Economy

Let’s focus on how we can leverage social media to evangelize the faithful. The good news with such open communication is that like-minded people can find groups. In our roles we should become experts at helping people find the groups within the Church that they need. We may call this the connected economy. Groups connect through the Internet and devices designed to navigate it. And, the economy of our efforts depends greatly on how well we will become at helping people make the right connections within parish life.

An important distinction here is the ability for people to connect, not the technology itself. This is the connected age. And now, we can all become contributors as opposed to the top down, mass media mentality. Considering the majority of parishioners want their churches to connect using social media, how can parish leaders best connect the faithful within their parishes so that they can best contribute as good stewards?

Your experiences and suggestions are encouraged!

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