The rise of social media, growth in global connectivity and the increase in internet usage have given birth to a new type of audience.
I call them the connected audience.
I spent a lot of time thinking about this new type of audience when I was writing my book The Connected Church. The more I thought about them, the more I realised that this was a new breed of audience unlike any other in history. If communicators, brands, and organisations do not understand how this audience behave, they simply will have no way of communicating any message to them; no matter the quality, the importance or the type of content.
If you haven’t yet read my earlier blog on the 5-types of audience on social media, I suggest you read it before you learn about these characteristics. It will give you a good perspective of what we are discussing here.
Let us look at the 8 characteristics of this connected audience so that you can think about how these characteristics will influence the way you communicate with them on social media.
8 characteristics of the ‘connected audience’ on social media
1. They have access to information
The connected audience has access to all knowledge at the tips of their fingers. In other words, they know how to Google. This ability gives them confidence to look for answers to life’s most difficult questions using their smartphones. They don’t collect books, CDs, DVDs or dictionaries like the other types of audiences. When in doubt, they Google. If you have information or a message for this audience, your primary responsibility is to make that information ‘searchable’ so that you are found when they look for you.
2. They are eager to learn and research
The connected audience is eager to learn. They are inquisitive and curious about things. They will spend hours diving deep into the subjects and topics that interest them. Research is part of their lifestyle. When they hear you speak about a topic in church, they might later Google it or search on Social Media and find more answers if the topic is of interest to them. They will spend hours watching videos, reading blogs and going through online courses. You need to make available a lot of research material, resources and videos to help them learn more about the things you are trying to communicate about.
3. They are always connected
The connected audience, as their name says, is always ‘connected’. They are connected to each other, they are connected to your church, they are connected to your ministry and they are connected to the rest of the world. They become restless when they do not have connectivity. Research says that an average person looks at their mobile phone 110 times a day! Connectivity is the heartbeat of this new breed of audience, and that poses both an opportunity and a challenge. Every time they look at their mobile devices, you have an opportunity to be visible to them, connect with them and communicate to them. But if you do not have the right presence or content, there are 1000 other things that could get their attention and take them far away from your message.
4. They are open to other opinions and points of view
The connected audience is willing to discuss their faith and belief with others openly. They are not shy. They are confident in who they are and what they believe in. They are active on forums and in social media groups. Once they are convinced, they are open and willing to have a discussion even about things they do not understand well. They would rather talk about things and gain clarity than keep quiet. They are expressive by nature. They want to make sure they have had their say in all matters, but they are not judgmental about others’ opinions. They accept them or ignore them, but they do not judge them (most of the time). They read more than one view on any subject.
5. They value convenience
The connected audience wants and values convenience. They look for easier ways to get things done. And if you help them transact conveniently, they will continue to transact with you and stay connected to you. Make their life easier and you will be their best friend.
6. They are willing to be your brand ambassadors
The connected audience has no problem sharing information about you with their network and being an ambassador for your ministry. Jesus called us to be Ambassadors of the Kingdom; ministries need ambassadors – people who believe in the vision of a ministry and can be its brand ambassadors. If you work hard to stay connected to the connected audience and provide value to them constantly, they will have no problem being your ambassadors. They will talk about you in forums, blogs and social media. They will defend your point of view fearlessly, support you openly and stand by you faithfully.
7. They are not exclusively yours
Even though they are a wonderful audience to have, you cannot have them all to yourself. With the connected audience, your view of ministry or church membership needs to change. The connected audience likes their freedom. They are free-spirited and interested in exploring multiple ministries, not because they are disloyal to you but because of their thirst for knowledge. They might be loyal and dedicated to your ministry, but that will not stop them from connecting to another ministry for some other purposes. Open your mind to that reality and develop a magnanimous, sharing attitude.
Many church leaders and ministers are frustrated when members of their congregations go to a different church even for one week. With technology and the internet, there is no way to stop someone from being part of any church and any denomination.
In a way, I think it is something good and a much needed transformation in the Body of Christ. It truly make us ONE BODY in Christ. We cannot operate on our own little islands anymore. Gone are the days when people grew up as a member of one church or denomination and continued to be that all their life. There is nothing wrong with that, but it is a bigger joy to celebrate the differences that exists in different ministries and churches.
In fact, that is how the first Church was built: One person sowed the seed, the other watered it and another had the harvest. The early Church leaders did not consider any congregation their own. Social media and technology are returning us to that open model where people have the freedom to enjoy the gifts of various members of the Body of Christ. I am excited about the possibility that today the audience can be truly free and empowered by learning from various unique ministries. The audience always benefits when it consumes content from a ministry with a special revelation about a particular subject.
8. They appreciate uniqueness and value
The connected audience appreciates the uniqueness of each ministry and individual, so communicate your uniqueness and your calling to your audience. This will help them understand you better and stay connected with you in order to get the most value.
How will the understanding of these characteristics influence your communication strategy? Let me know your thoughts.
If you have any specific questions or feedback please ask them in the comments section below. Thank you.
Stay connected. Stay blessed.