Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! If you know what those two phrases mean and where they come from, you are from my generation or you have found a late night cable channel that shows old time television. Those two phrases come from the opening of the television show "Superman," which, when I was a small boy, was all the rage. Today's youth might ask, "What's a locomotive?"
I thought of that phrase as I sat down to write about recent statistics on the growth of social media and the rise of mobile access of the Internet. If you have not been paying attention, both continue to grow at a speed thatwhile not as fast as a bulletis none-the-less fast. If you doubt that it is more powerful than a locomotive, you might ask Hosni Mubarak about that. If you have to ask who that is you were not paying attention to the overthrow of Mubarak as the president of Egypt. The riots and protest that played a huge part in his downfall were fueled in part by social media tool Twitter.
I am currently in the finishing stages of a new book entitled, "The Digital Church." I am trying to get it to the printers in time for a summer release. Yet every time I think I am done another statistic pops up that I think simply must be included in my book. I have finally gotten to the point that I recognize that social media is so fast and so changing that the minute my book is published it will be out of date. That is sort of like any computer you buy.
Jeff Bullas, on his blog, posted the following
What are 2 key factors driving the social web in 2013?
According to a Global Web Index study it is:
Mobile with the number of people accessing the Internet via a mobile phone increasing by 60.3% to 818.4 million in the past two years.
Older users adoption On Twitter the 55-64 age bracket is the fastest growing demographic with [a] 79% growth rate since 2012. The fastest growing demographic on Facebook's and Google+'s networks are the 45 to 54 year age bracket, at 46% and 56% respectively.
Read more at http://www.jeffbullas.com/#VWrcEhmDHCD55COr.99
Don't look now, but your grandma is following your Tweets. While that should not be the only take away from these statistics, it none the less should give us a reason to think about our own social media use. We can no longer assume that things like Twitter are simply tools to connect with the younger generation.
What is also of note is the rise of mobile. I find that many churches are ignorant of how important this is. We will soon reach the tipping point where most people access the Internet through a mobile device. Tablets will soon replace standard computers and laptops as the most purchased tool. Don't look now, but the world around us is changing. Has your church changed to meet these changes?
Why it matters that your church is current with technology
Let me share why all this should matter to you and your church. First and foremost, if you want to be relevant then you need to have an online presence. If you want your message to be heard then you had better be where the audience is. You might not be on social media but millions of people are, many in your neighborhood. With so many people of all generations using these tools, why would you not be there?
Go mobile or get lost
Next, not only should you have an online platform but it needs to be accessible to how people are viewing online material today. The statistic stated above should cause you great concern if your church's sites are not mobile-friendly. This includes every platform that you serve up. The reason why is so abundantly obviousmore people are connecting to the Internet via tablets and smartphones.
There are at least two major areas where NOT being mobile can cost you. The first is in search optimization. If your sites are not mobile search engines will not rank you high on the list when people type in, "churches in my zip code." Even if they somehow find you on their mobile device and it is unreadable they will leave within seconds, studies show. Again, you have lost out on an opportunity to connect with your community.
The second area is one that is often overlooked but can be extremely costly for a church, and that is if your online giving is not set up for mobile access. Again, studies show that people quickly leave sites that are not mobile-friendly.
So, let's say that you have put a QR code to your giving page in the Sunday bulletin encouraging people to give easily. The problem is that if the giving page is not set up for mobile then giving easy is not available to mobile users. Non-mobile sites mean you have to use your fingers to enlarge the screen, which makes it harder to read and type in information. People will leave without giving. Again, you have lost. This time the loss is dollars.
So, you see, if you are not mobile, you really are losing out. Mobile set up is not difficult and most online firms now offer this with little cost to you. Whatever it costs for mobile set up, it is more than worth it to be able to connect to your community.
A church concerned about its lost community had better not get lost to that community. It is time to get mobile.