Why People Do or Don’t Go To Church

Interesting stats about the reasons Americans attend or do not attend church regularly…

“For instance, two-thirds of people who cite logistical reasons or that they “practice their faith in other ways” as very important factors in keeping them away from religious services identify with a religion (primarily Christianity), as do 56% of those who dislike features of particular congregations or religious services. Roughly half of those who say they practice their faith in other ways also report praying every day, as do 44% of those who name logistical reasons as key factors in keeping them away from church and 36% of those who dislike elements of services and congregations. By contrast, just 15% of those who do not attend religious services due to a lack of belief say they pray daily.”

via Pew Research Center Religion and Public Life

Churches Should Realize That Branding is Dead

As with many things to do with marketing and messaging, churches are way behind the curve when realizing that relationships are much more powerful than advertisements or fancy branding.

Marketing data points have already moved larger brands to this realization but there’s still a large vacuum in the world of nonprofit and religious org marketing that keeps outreach trapped in the pre-internet days.

The Best Marketers Will Realize That “Branding” Is Dead And It’s All About Community Activation And Relationship Building. David Minifie, CXO & Executive Vice President, Centene Corporation

As a CMO, I wanted to elevate from Advertising (like personal injury lawyers) to Brand Building (like Harley Davidson).  As a CXO, however, my perspective has changed.  I want to take Transactions (like glancing at the newspaper sports scores), turn them into Engagements (like reading Sports Illustrated) and then elevate them into Relationships (like being a Cardinals fan in St. Louis).  Manufacturers that focus on branding and not relationships…beware!

— Read on www.forbes.com/

Video at every stage of the customer journey

Holistic marketing campaigns that are based on customer journeys and utilize a mixture of text, video, and image based ads have always been the vehicle for real results if you had enough budget.

It’s great to see Google (YouTube) helping to make this reachable for nonprofits, community groups, and religious orgs with a limited budget as well…

Increasingly, video is also leading people to take action. In fact, globally, conversions generated by YouTube ads are up 150 percent year over year.1 Using TrueView for action, you can drive any action on your website that’s important to your business, like booking a trip, scheduling a test drive or requesting more information.

— Read on blog.google/products/ads/results-on-youtube/

My Experiment With Digital Nomadicism

I’m technically on family holiday vacation this week, holed up in a lovely cabin in the mountains north of Asheville.

We have wifi here, but I decided to opt for the Touch and my Blackberry (and Kindle of course) over lugging up the Macbook Pro. I’m actually writing this on the Touch with the fantastic WordPress app. Honestly, it’s pretty smooth and I need to do this more frequently.

What I’ve realized this week is that I can do most everything that I do on my laptop with just the Touch and the Blackberry. Tweeting, reading feeds in Google Rader, answering email, playing in Facebook, and now blogging are almost more enjoyable on the Touch over the laptop.

But what about “business stuff” like checking stats, reading and writing Docs and spreadsheets or FTP’ing into sites? All are (easily) doable and smooth in this sort of a mobile scenario. Actually, I’m really enjoying stretching myself and learning the new skill of mobile aptitude.

Of course, much of the content I create and consume is based in cloud computing rather than relying on a desktop. I make heavy use of all the Google apps. When I have needed a doc, I just access it in either Dropbox or on drop.io since I keep things sync’d on those places anyway. It’s worked out well.

So, my grand experiment in digital nomadicism is going surprisingly well. I could easily see myself just bringing the Touch and Blackberry to Affiliate Summit this month and leaving the Macbook home. 8 of my text books for the coming semester are in the Kindle, so my load for school will def be the Touch (Bible software apps are tremendous), blackberry and Kindle.

Digital nomadicism isn’t for everyone, of course. I unabashedly rely on web and cloud apps over desktop bound software and I’m not tied to an enterprise infrastructure that requires any special software. But a lighter load in a new year is always a good thing!

68D41E4B-511A-40F2-AE65-F67218650E40.jpg

Fallacy of Twitter Authority Based on Followers

DF926E7C-BCCC-44B4-A238-DBE6833A36B9.jpg

Michael Arrington backing up Loic Le Meur’s call for something akin to a Twitter PageRank algorithm with authority based on the number of followers:

Should Twitter Add Authority-based Search?: “I’m with him on this. Most of the time I just want to read everything people are writing about a topic to more or less take the temperature of the masses on whatever I’m researching. But sometimes it would be nice to hear what just the top users are saying on a particular topic, too, since so many more people hear their message.”

I have 3,000 or something followers but I think this is a terrible idea with the following logic:

1) Pagerank sucks (now) for blogs and isn’t a true measure of a blog’s worth, value or credibility.

2) Even then, Twitter is not blogging. Ranking people according to something as transient and flimsy as the number of followers is a worse idea than ranking blogs according to their number of inbound links. Oh, and imagine the gamers.

3) Twitter is a not only a micro-presence platform, it’s a micro-community platform. What purpose would such a “follower algorithm” serve?

Some (most) of my favorite and most “valuable” people I follow on Twitter have under 1k followers. Calling them less credible or their tweets less substantive based solely on the number of followers is silly.

4) I agree with Arrington that it is nice to hear what “top users are saying on a particular topic” rather than crowdsurfing. However, there are already great tools for that. It’s called the follow function combined with RSS or Summize or Yahoo Pipes or Google Alerts, etc. The “top user” on a particular topic such as Hebrew Bible or some niche realm that I’m interested in is not necessarily going to have thousands of followers.

The best metric here is individual intuition and discernment.

5) This isn’t an argument for “wisdom of the crowds” or the “power of the conversation” etc. I’m not a big fan of that mentality, either. Those types of 2006-esque arguments are annoying at best.

Instead, my point is that it would incredibly difficult to institute something like a “worth quotient” on all users of Twitter (even more so than blogging). Putting something like a rank or worth based on the (easily gamed) number of followers a person has makes it even worse.

There Has to Be a Better Way

Don’t get me wrong, If Arrington or Le Meur or Twitter could come up with a ranking or worth algorithm based on something inventive and truly reflective of value, I’d be all for it. If Twitter could put together something revolutionary for determining authority akin to PageRank back in the ’90’s, I’d be the person yelling the loudest from the mountaintop for adoption.

However, this ain’t it.

This seems more like A-Listers grasping at straws to me.

68D41E4B-511A-40F2-AE65-F67218650E40.jpg

AOL Opening Up to Growth

D44778BB-711F-4DB7-846C-BC9A2052E420.jpg

Bill Wilson, AOL’s EVP of Programming, emailed me a followup to my post on AOL’s recent successes to let me know that the new comScore Media Metrix reports were out.

AOL had significant growth both in the passive page view metric as well as the more active attention metrics. New visitors and users were also both up 9% this year over last.

AOL.jpg

The corporate press release with all of its statistical goodness can be found here:

AOL Sites Hit Record Audience Reach and Engagement in October | AOL Corporate: “AOL programming sites hit all-time high traffic numbers and marked the 21st month of consecutive year-over-year growth for unique visitors, according to the October 2008 comScore Media Metrix report. Unique visitors to AOL’s programming content sites grew 7% year-over-year to 54.3 million in October, and page views more than doubled, up 101% year-over-year to 4.2 billion. Engagement (total minutes) grew 51% year-over-year in October. Total minutes reached an all-time high on AOL.com, http://aol.com, growing 27% year-over-year. Additionally, AOL.com page views grew 27%, and unique visitors and total visitors were up 9%, year-over-year, as the site further opened up to third-party content, services and features. In addition, AOL Webmail, http://mail.aol.com, reached an all-time high of 3.5 billion page views marking a 31% year-over-year growth. “

As I wrote in my post last week, AOL is on the right path with their decision to open up and allow existing and new users to leverage the AOL.com homepage as their home base for the web. We’ve recently seen Yahoo and just this week Microsoft’s Live.com follow in similar paths as well as Google with the iGoogle platform.

I don’t think we’re in a return phase of the “power of the portal,” but we are seeing the metaphor of the portal being expanded to encompass social media and social networks and real time (AIM) data deliverability and consumption.

Pay attention to AOL and Platform-A.