Understanding your audience: how to use your analytics tools, Huron Church News September 2017

While listening to a podcast the other day (The Pro Church Podcast with Brady Shearer, check it out), I heard a phrase that struck a chord with me. “One of the first rules of social media is always to take a deep dive rather than going wide.”

This is an idea I have advocated for years and it is so well summed up in this simple sentence.
Let me explain.

Social media consists of a plethora of platforms that can help you make and maintain connections and share the story of your community and faith.

It can be tempting to use all of them. We want to be connected to everyone in every way possible, on our websites, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, etc. But by spreading our efforts so thin, it is hard to be effective on any of them. In other words, it is best to do one thing really well, than a few things poorly.

It is easy, however, to figure out where you are the most effective and where you should focus your attention by monitoring the analytics on your social platforms. These analytics offer insights into how your content is received by your audience. It can also help you determine your current audience and evaluate your efforts to reach new audiences. They can also aid you in trimming the number of platforms is use as well.

Most social media platforms come with built in analytics. For websites, my preference is still Google Analytics, which while quite robust is also free.

Analytics on your website will help you determine your bounce rate (how long people stay on your sight), landing page (which page or sub-page gets the most direct traffic), how traffic arrived at your site (whether through a Google search, social media link or other) and user flow (how users navigate through your site). This is all very powerful information and will help you tailor your message to meet current users’ needs.

The same is true for Facebook. Pages come with built in analytics. Simply click on “Insights” at the top of page and you will see all kinds of demographic and behavioural information about your page’s users. You can see the gender and age break-down of your users and their language and location. You can also see statistics about people that were reached and engaged and what content resonated with your audience and what isn’t hitting the mark.

Twitter also offers analytics on its platform and much of the same information is readily available. You can also see the interests of those who follow you, giving you a great insight into the type of content that your audience seeks, will engage with, and will share to their followers.

It is understandable to want to be on social media platform. The more platforms, the bigger your audience, the greater your reach. However, poorly engaging with your users will not grow your audience but will cause your audience to disengage.

By focusing your resources only on the platforms on which you are be effective, you can maximize the reach and impact of your message to help fulfill the Great Commission, to baptize new believers in the name of the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit and to teach all that Jesus taught.

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