Guidelines for Tracking Online Attendance & Engagement
posted on May 12
Now more than any other time in history the church is faced with unprecedented change and opportunity. More than one billion hours of video are watched every day on YouTube. Every. Single. Day. YouTube reaches more U.S. consumers between the ages of 18 and 49 than all cable TV networks combined (see stats here).
The simple adage “what gets measured is what gets changed” is just as true now as it ever was. Numbers, whether good or bad, can help gauge what is working (or not), and should be your greatest motivator – driving you to greater action, prayer, humility, visioning and innovation – helping you to dream “what’s next.”
But if you’re like many of us, what to count is the question? Here are guidelines to use when deciding what to measure as online attendance for VitalSigns Reporting.
ONLINE WORSHIP ATTENDANCE BENCHMARKS
There are many online metrics inside apps like Facebook and YouTube. However, we recommend two analytics that can help you chart the story of your church’s online ministry and will allow you to see how effectively you are engaging people. Use for reporting your VitalSigns Online Worship Attendance.
- Number of one-minute views on Facebook, YouTube and LiveStream service. Eliminating the 3 and 10-second views gets rid of the people who randomly scrolled into you and left. The people who watched for one-minute or more, likely meant to watch you. [YouTube Instructions | Facebook: Where to Find Insights ~ Page Insights Guide (How to Evaluate Insights)]
- Use an attendance multiplier.** Since one computer or phone might have more than one person watching, you use a multiplier to reflect that. We recommend you use a 1.7 multiplier (multiply your total number of one-minute views across all platforms by 1.7).
- Review your numbers (Facebook, YouTube, etc.) every Wednesday and report to VitalSigns.
- Be consistent – use the same analytics and day of the week.
In the “Note” section of VitalSigns, please note the use of a multiplier and the dates/services measured.
IMPORTANT: Whatever metrics you pick, use them consistently and benchmark them. That way you have a consistent way to measure trends.
Click here for some helpful resources to help you get started or expand what you're already doing:
- A Beginners Guide to Facebook Analytics and Insight
- Tips, Tools and Resources
- Guidelines to Tracking Attendance & Generating Growth
- Basics of Facebook for Churches
- Visit the MS Conference Digital Discipleship page
- MyCom: How Many People Are Watching Your Videos?
- Vital Signs Online Worship Reporting
- Basic Facts of Facebook for Churches (Why do we need a Facebook page?)
- How to Create a Facebook Page
While views matter because people matter, the larger goal is engagement. In the physical world, your church counted the number of baptisms, professions of faith, small group participation, etc. All those metrics in some form or fashion are signs of engagement – a decision to take a deeper step-in faith and get involved in the mission and vision of the church. That can also happen online.
Start monitoring some online engagement metrics:
- Decisions (POFs, etc.)
While it can be overwhelming to track all of them, setting up a few key engagement metrics is important to seeing how well your online audience is engaged with your message and will help you track and gauge growth; adjusting and adapting when indicated or needed.
And finally, don’t go it alone! Ask your staff and/or volunteers with good people skills and a willingness to work on connecting with the people who engage your online platforms, to welcome folks who ‘like’ the page, respond to comments, etc. This is especially important for the future of your church. If you, as the pastor, are the only one managing your church’s digital media (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, church website, etc.), what happens when you itinerate? Empower your staff and volunteers so any transition is seamless!
Questions or need help getting started? Contact the Faith Community Formation Team:
- Rev. Tim Thompson, email@example.com
- Jane Horstman, firstname.lastname@example.org or 769-243-7072
- Rev. Dr. Jason Zebert, email@example.com or 769-243-7073