Strategic Evangelizing: New Facebook Insights Data and What You Can Do With It

I love data when it comes to things I’m doing.  Data, when read properly, tells “the story” of something and gives a very unique insight.  It’s great feedback, and often times better in regards to accuracy than what people tell you directly.  My wife and I have a “rule” when it comes to marketing discussions within her business . . . we stop if the conversation gets to “I think people will . . . ”  When we are at that place we are now speculating and really thinking about what we would do.  We want to get to “I know people will . . . “, and we get there through looking at the data.

When it comes to evangelizing we don’t ever speak about statistics or data.  I’m not talking about assigning specific measurables and reducing evangelizing to a mere thing.  It is far larger than that.  I’m talking about using the data and statistics to make your efforts in regards to evangelizing far more effective.  For example, have you ever wondered why that program at Church had very little turn out?  You put it in the bulletin with cartoonish style fun graphics.  You had the Pastor announce it a few times at Masses.  You even had the flier available in the gathering space with a fun looking sign.  But the response is the same as always . . . less than expected.  Here’s why:

  1. Your strategy is simply “throw enough stuff at the wall and see what sticks”
  2. Have you determined who your “audience” the event is geared towards?  It’s not “everyone” all the time.
  3. Is your message crafted to grab the attention of that audience?  Sometimes messages targeted for youth initiatives are better crafted to target Moms and Dads who are the influencers of their children.
  4. Do you know when and where that audience is before and after Masses or outside of Mass?  Maybe a lot of them gather in a certain area.
  5. Have you solicited feedback from random people within your target audience to see if your efforts are effective?  It’s not difficult to ask “Hey, do you see/hear about this?”

These are just some of the questions online data tells us about our audience activity online on things like our parish Facebook Page.  and allows us to use the online tools more effectively for evangelizing.

I personally think Facebook Pages are great evangelizing tools for parishes, and Facebook has been providing us some data with Pages for a few years now.  A few weeks ago Facebook announced a redesign and improvements rolling out to it’s Page Insights.  This has been rolling out by user, and not by page.  So if you have multiple admins on a Page, some may still be seeing the old Insights still.  This new design can be very beneficial for parishes.  The data set and information is far more “granular” than before and we can now see things like “hides” of posts or how likes/unlikes of a page might have been attributed to a particular post or type of post.  We’re seeing when people are visiting the page directly and where they are going.  Far better demographic data with improved location information.

Let’s look at some of this new data from my own parish page and what it tells me:

  1.  75% of our “Fans” are Women and 83% of the women are 35+ years old with 34% being 35-54 years of age.
  2. I know what town within our county the majority of them are from, and I know how many people I am reaching outside of our immediate  community.
  3. I know 79% of my “likes”, comments, and shares over the last 28 days came from women and 39% of them were 35-54 and 30% were 55-65+
  4. I know my best post (a photo) reached 554 (versus the 439 Page fans), gained 54 “likes”/comments/shares, 7 comments, and caused 56 “Other Clicks”.
  5. For post type, I know that my status posts get the greatest average reach of 255, and photos gain an average reach of 196. Photos get double the post clicks compared to status updates and just about the same average “likes”/comments/shares

Insights 2

All that sounds great, but what can you really do with it?  Before moving forward here, I would caution to first decided what direction you want to take here . . . leverage what you are doing well, or increase lower performing areas.  It’s ok to do either in various cases, but the reason I bring this up is because you could choose a path that becomes a huge waste of time and efforts.  Here are example of when each are the best to use:

  1. “Marketing” and event or initiative, or things in the short-term  – This should always be done leveraging what’s already working.  The reason being is that this type of function is about getting response now and you will be far better served targeting the audience you know you have now.
  2. Improving the activity of certain demographics within your parish or things that are long-term – This is about change and change takes time.  So the data you have is key to knowing where to improve and you can leverage the things you are doing well to help effect the change you’d like to see occur.

So back on track.  A lot of our focus with our online initiatives in our parish is to increase participation (like most).  I now know that I have the attention of a key audience (in my opinion) in my parish . . . women over 35.  Why?  They are the influencers.  Guys and kids, you may not want to accept it but it’s true.  Wives and Moms are the leaders and influence the family the most.  I know to really get engaged with them to use photos and videos with our posts and they are less likely to be engaged with links we post.  So my messages should most often include a image/photo and I can tell they really enjoy photos that include our Pastor.  So I can use photos that makes sense theme-wise attached to my message to enhance the message while gaining more attention.

And now that I have a strategy and a starting point, I can assign some numerical goals over the next 30 days and revisit our efforts.  Are my page likes increasing, have conversations developed, is attendance increasing at events (ask some of those ministry leaders), is your website traffic improving, etc.).  All of which plays into helping to effectively evangelize as a parish.  Because a part of those efforts are evangelizing to the people in our pews as much as it is to those outside of our doors.  Online we can do both and is one of the aspects I love about social networks for our parishes.

Are you getting the new Facebook insights yet?  Were you surprised at any of the new information?

How do you measure your social media effectiveness?

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Author:Brad West

I live in Palm Coast, FL with my family and have assisted my local parish with our website and communications. Our parishes today can benefit a great deal from technology. Whether it's improving communications, community building, evangelizing, business operations, and much more; we have the tools today. To help provide some direction and advice to parishes and parishioners, I wrote and published an eBook titled "The Connected Church" which is available through Barnes and Noble (Nooks and Nook apps) as well as Amazon (Kindle and Kindle apps).