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Who is your digital church?

Knowing who is watching when you are communicating online is vital. Understanding your digital church means you can better serve them.


When you can see your congregation in front of you, it's easy to figure out who they are. When you consider your digital church, knowing who is watching online becomes much more challenging. But it’s important to understand who they are – your digital church congregation.

Jesus is our example.

Jesus is the best example of why this is important. He didn’t communicate the same way to everyone He encountered. When He was with His disciples, His communication differed from when He was preaching to a large crowd. It was also different when speaking to the “authorities” – the Pharisees and Sadducees, the High Priest, Pilot, etc. – Jesus spoke to them differently. We also instinctively communicate differently to different people in everyday life. We talk differently to our family than friends, work colleagues or acquaintances.

Why, then, as a rule, do we communicate the same way online, irrespective of who might be watching as our digital church, and expect everyone to “get” what we are saying?

Start with this question.

One of the most critical questions you need to answer when reaching people through media is WHO you want to reach. Without knowing who you want to reach, it is impossible to measure the effectiveness of your media outreach. This could mean you may be spending money and time creating content that doesn’t match your goals and is irrelevant to your digital church.

Establish who your digital church is now.

You will only know which of these categories are watching your content by undertaking some research.

Finding out who your digital church currently is and who is watching your content online is easier than trying to find out who watches a more traditional television broadcast, but are you using the tools you have available to measure and track your audience?

If we don’t know WHO is watching, we cannot develop an effective way to communicate with them as individuals. I am thus surprised that “audience research” isn’t a major priority for those seeking to grow their online presence and reach a broader digital church. One quick caveat here: if your focus is mainly to use online to gather your congregation who can’t (for whatever reason) meet in person, so effectively, your digital church is the same as your gathered church; this isn’t as important. However, it is vital for those seeking to grow their audience and online impact and expand their digital church. Even if you are in the former camp, I would still encourage you to delve into discovering who your audience is. You may find it surprising.

So, how can you research who is watching?

This is one of the things our Digital Ministry Assessment focuses on; it helps you consider questions about who your digital church is and how you can improve this aspect of your digital ministry. If you have not taken the assessment, that would be a great starting point.

Digital Ministry Assessment

Here are some other essential things that you can do as well:

  • Use the tools they provide on platforms like Facebook or YouTube to ask questions that will help you understand your audience better.
  • Track your metrics on the platforms you stream on – even to the extent of looking at when people turn off during a broadcast – then you can know what content doesn’t resonate with your audience (it can be sobering when you delve into these metrics, so you might want to be sitting down).
  • Ask your existing audience, who is your digital church, for feedback (and make it easy for them to give it to you). Questions like where they are watching from, whether they are regular viewers, and others can help you understand who your digital church is. You can use many tools to carry out a survey; here is a helpful article on how to go about it.
  • Keep track of the people who interact with you, contact you, etc and start creating audience profiles based on this data. Go back through the interactions on your broadcasts to better understand your audience and what they are saying.
  • Work out ways to capture more detailed audience data – offer an incentive for people to connect with you and then look at the data that gives you.

You mustn’t assume you know your digital church without conducting proper research.

    Surveys and Qizes
    Carry out audience surveys.

    Finding detailed data on your audience should become part of your routine as a content creator. Then, you can utilise the data and information to tailor your content towards your audience(s) – the reason I pluralise this is that you may well need to consider creating or re-purposing your content to be more appropriate for other audiences; you may end up with more than one digital church. Church planting in the digital world is MUCH cheaper and easier than in-person church planting. This article is a good overview of what it takes to do in-person church planting, and here is a resource “bank” for those looking to plant in-person churches.

    Even if you don’t start other digital churches, getting detailed data will enable you to relook at how you provide content and where and to whom. This article delves more into WHY this is important to know from a production and technology standpoint.

    Your starting point, though, must be finding out who is watching.

    What do you already know about your audience? I’d love to hear your thoughts; please add a comment below. 

    Do you want to look deeper at this? Then, our Digital Ministry Assessment will help you do so. 

    Take the assessment here.

    Categories: audience, Broadcasting, Platforms, production, Strategy

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