How to know if what you are doing is working

Explore our recommendations regarding the general world of social media, especially if getting into it for the first time. Or return to the Recommendations page for more. Explore the Findings tab for more information about the rest of our work.

  1. It is helpful to learn online analytics. There are a number of tools including Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, etc. But this information is just a baseline. It’s not the end result of your evaluation of an online application or tool. Or at least we don’t think it should be.
     
  2. Instead you should also evaluate social media initiatives by the quality of the relationships that they encourage, or establish, or nurture. Ask qualitative questions instead of quantitative ones, like “Did you learn anything about the people in this Facebook Bible study group that you didn’t already know? Did it contribute positively or negatively to the body of Christ? Did you meet a new person, or deepen a connection?”
     
  3. Find ways to evaluate transformation rather than an increase in numbers. If your social media use is in line with the purposes of your ministry, then use those tools to evaluate the purpose and the social media tools you employed.
     
  4. Keep theological questions in front of you as you evaluate. Consider using the six C’s of Verity Jones’ theological essay: Does your use of social media serve to Collect people, Connect people, Convert people, or Conspire them? Does it Cultivate their formation as people of faith, and does it Change the social structures around you for the better?
     
  5. Evaluate how much time you spend online and the quality of that time. Does it match your mission and purpose? If you set a goal of building an online group of people who pray for each other, then you’ll spend more time online trying to reach that goal than if you set a goal of empowering others in the church to Tweet.
     
  6. How you measure and what you measure depends on the kind of ministry model you have. For example, if you are a service-oriented church, you might look for connections between social media use and how people found out about the services you provide. You might not be so interested in whether they came to worship or not. Stay mindful of the ecclesiological commitments and assumptions of your church tradition. Ask “How does our understanding of how the body of believers is structured relate to how our church body uses new media?” Need help? Explore this theological essay on models of church.
     
  7. Consider measuring “success” differently. Don’t base it on numbers, but on who was moved by an online interaction, or who became involved and how did they participate? We at the New Media Project wonder if social media analytics help us measure what we actually care about.
     
  8. Show your human side to achieve social media success, suggests one of our guest bloggers. Ask how much of yourself is in this initiative.
     
  9. Finally, don’t think of the way the church behaves digitally in the world today—morally, spiritually, or ethically—as if it is different than any other mode in which the church is manifest. Evaluate for consistency in witness and deed.
The New Media Project is a research project helping religious leaders become theologically savvy about technology. To request permission to repost this content, please contact newmediaproject@cts.edu.

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