Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

Looking At The 'why, Who And What' Of Our Online Content

By Tim Lilley The Message Editor


Why do we post Catholic content online? Who are we trying to reach? What’s our goal?


I remember reading last fall about research conducted by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate. Catholics surveyed told CARA that they got most of their news from parish bulletins, followed by the print editions of diocesan newspapers. In fact, the research suggested that one in four Catholics had read at least one edition of a diocesan paper – in print – during the three months preceding the survey.


Given today’s “got to have it now” mentality – especially when it comes to news and information – that number is impressive, and a bit surprising. Even more surprising is CARA’s report that a mere 13 percent of Catholics who attend Mass weekly read Catholic blogs, and only a few percent more watch religious content on YouTube.


Clearly, then, our goal with online content should not be “preaching to the choir” or otherwise focusing on those we see at Mass every weekend. CARA has told us they’re getting their news from their church bulletins and from the print edition of The Message


So, why are we posting online?  That question – and the other two – must have two answers in this column: one for The Message accounts and another for my personal accounts.


Posts to The Message Facebook and Twitter pages occur to share news with folks online who otherwise might not have a chance to see it. Think about it – if CARA tells us the people it surveyed use parish bulletins more than any other tool for Catholic news, there’s a good chance most of them attend Mass regularly. From here, The Message Facebook page and Twitter feed, we hope, will capture the attention of people who haven’t been to Mass in a while.


When it comes to my personal Facebook page and Twitter feed, I post Catholic content in order to help people understand more about me and my faith. I have many non-Catholic friends, and it’s gratifying when some of them “like” or retweet faith-based posts I make. It’s no surprise that many of those actions relate to posts about – or shared from – Pope Francis.


Those last two paragraphs really answered the second question, too. Who are we trying to reach? With The Message accounts, the focus primarily is our Catholic community across the diocese – in particular those who don’t make it to Mass regularly. Although CARA’s research suggests that not a lot of them are looking for Catholic content online, reaching even one represents success.


My personal accounts target family, of course; and friends and business acquaintances from more than three decades of work in a variety of positions.


What are the goals of the online content?


With The Message accounts, the goal is to engage people in such a way that they will be moved to learn more about something. Maybe they decide to Google Pope Francis. Maybe they decide to check out The Message online. Maybe something they read will open their hearts and minds just enough for the Holy Spirit to move them closer to Him than they have been in a while … possibly a long while.


Personally, I hope my Facebook and Twitter posts help people to see God in their lives. He is there; always. Often, the most difficult part of feeling His presence is simply acknowledging it. We have that chance this Sunday – Trinity Sunday. Come Holy Spirit.


So … what about you? Do you post online? If so, why, and for whom? What do you hope your posts achieve?