Tag: survey

Survey Says: 5 Types of ‘Digital Moms’ Your Church Should Reach

According to a new survey, over 84% of mothers online — some 27-million women —  can be grouped into 5 “digital mom” categories.  However, these tech-savvy mothers use the internet, social media, gaming, texting, and other online content in different ways and for different purposes.  Churches can benefit from the insights of this new study by the marketing company Razorfish, and the world’s largest mom-centric website, Cafe Mom.

The survey discovered these five “digital mom” types:

1. The self-expressor mom.

Typically in her early thirties with one preschooler, and possibly more on the way, this mom is as likely to be stay-at-home as employed.  She balances the most limited household budget of all 5 types, and so needs to shop for value.  This mom is a highly socialable networker, and has a higher than average number of friends in her online social network.  She both creates and participates in online polls as one of her favorite ways to engage with others.  Her social network page is often decorated with digital badges, photos, and playlists which communicate her style.  Marketers can involve the self-expressor in their online brand campaigns by appealing to her artistic and individual sense.  She seeks the advice of real-world friends on parenting, but then turns to her online friends for addition advice and guidance.  40% of moms fall into this category.

2.  The utility mom.

The utility mom is in her mid-to-late thirties and is raising a couple of tweens.  She is likely to have the most children at home, yet spends the most time online in her social networking groups.  Yet, she prefers to bring her own real-world friends into her online network, rather than make new online friends.  She is more likely to join online groups, particularly if they are local school groups or groups providing practical information.  While she will answer other online polls, she creates little online content herself, and has the fewest online photos posted of any group.  She does like online game and quiz widgets, but values information from her real friends over that of her online network.  The utility mom uses her social network time for both monitoring her own children, and her own enjoyment of playing games or answering quizzes.  This mom is 26% of digital moms.

3.  The groupster mom.

This mom is in her early thirties with elementary school-age children.  As the name implies, she is more likely to join groups or start groups than any other digital mom segment.  But she is also not the most social of the digital moms, receiving more friend invitations than she sends.  She is confident and sees herself as a go-to person for advice, but not necessarily shopping advice.  She depends upon her online friends for parenting advice, although she says she is more influenced by brand programs on social networks when it comes to purchasing.  She also ranks the highest in sending private messages online, and values 1-to-1 communication.  The groupster mom is 12% of the digital mom cohort.

4.  The info-seeker mom.

In her twenties with her first baby, this mom is looking for information. She is among the best educated of all the moms, and is most likely to be a stay home mom.  She is interested in parenting information, which she prefers to get from real friends, but she will also turn to online parents in similar situations to hers.  She values the mom-to-mom conversations online, but while she uses social networks, her primary concern is to get product or parenting guidance.  The info-seeker is 12% of the total group.

5.  The hyper-connector mom.

This mom is the oldest, usually in her forties, with the oldest kids, usually teenagers.  Experienced as a parent, she uses social media more to chat with others, and gain information on products she might be considering.  She also monitors her own teens online usage, and is likely to play video games online with others.  She accesses digital news channels more than younger moms, and also blogs, leaves comments on the blogs of others, and is the highest content creator in the survey.  She is highly active, inviting others to join her online community of moms.  She values this online community more than expert opinions, online reviews or print advertising when it comes to purchasing decisions.  This mom is 9% of the digital mom universe.

Other insights into the world of digital moms includes —

  • All of these digital moms value WOM — word-of-mouth — recommendations, especially when the WOM comes from their online network.
  • While all of these moms use digital media, they do so for different purposes and in different ways depending on their age and the ages of their children.
  • From a marketing standpoint, online advertisers should engage these digital moms, rather than just depend on banner ads displaying on social networking sites.  The same might be said for churches and women’s ministries.

You can download and save the full report here.  The report is 36 pages and filled with charts and text explaining how each “digital mom” segment uses Web 2.0 media.  If you’re interested in women’s ministry, the internet, demographics, or social networking, this report will give you lots to think about.

Willow Creek’s Dilemma

After discovering that their church programs did not help people love God or others more…

Willow Creek had two choices —

  1. Reinvent themselves or
  2. Develop a new program to replace the old programs that didn’t work.

They chose number 2 — another program.  Reveal is the new program and has a book, a conference, and is being rolled out to the Willow Creek network.  I can understand their choice because Willow Creek is not just a church, they’re a movement, an informal denomination, a network whose “seeker” philosophy has served them very well if what you want to be is a high-profile “front door” into the Christian faith for thousands.  That is a very good thing, but certainly not all there is to the Christian experience.   Which is why their programs didn’t work after “seekers” became growing “followers.”

Willow Creek should have chosen to reinvent themselves.  Here’s why:

  1. The seeker model is running out of steam.   The baby boomers they attracted are aging.  People are no longer afraid of religious jargon or symbols, and surveys say most consider themselves “spiritual.”  In other words, the seeker philosophy needs rethinking.
  2. Maturing followers need ways to express their faith.  They could have done what Rick Warren did with the AIDS crisis, or his PEACE plan — give maturing believers something to do with their faith.  Not just more stuff to learn.  Hybels said maturing members needed to be “self-feeders” but maybe they need to be “servants.”
  3. The world is changing.  This is related to #1, but different.  In the 1970s when Willow Creek started immigration, AIDS, poverty, global economy, spirituality, diversity, and a host of other discontinuous changes had not rocked our world.  Seems like it makes sense that new challenges demand new answers. 

Small churches have advantages Willow Creek doesn’t have

This is where small churches have an advantage.  As I noted in an earlier post, small churches don’t need millions of dollars to reinvent themselves.  Small churches don’t have a big budget to feed.  Small churches can connect with specific segments of the community better than large churches.  Small churches can experiment with new forms of church.  Small churches can engage people in real conversations about their real lives.  Rather than adopting new programs, we’re trying to reinvent ourselves here in Chatham, and I’ll let you know how it goes.

Willow Creek Study Says Church Programs Don’t Work

The ground has just shifted under the evangelical world.  Willow Creek, that combination mega-church and mini-denomination, has just discovered that church programs don’t work.  Here’s their conclusion —

…increasing levels of participation in these sets of activities [church programs] does NOT predict whether someone’s becoming more of a disciple of Christ.

It does NOT predict whether they love God more or they love people more. 

[thanks to Out of Ur.  Watch the entire 13-minute segment with Greg Hawkins here, and Bill Hybels comments here.] 

Here’s the backstory:  Greg Hawkins, exec pastor at Willow Creek, surveyed Willow Creek members to determine the effectiveness of WC’s programs — small groups, worship, service groups, etc.   Participants had four choices to describe their spiritual lives:

  1. Exploring — not yet Christians, but interested.
  2. Growing — new Christians and growing in faith.
  3. Close to Christ.
  4. Centered in Christ.

The survey results produced what Bill Hybels calls “the wake up call of my adult life” —

Survey Says:  After a person left Stages 1 & 2, church programs did not help them love God or love people more.  And, to make matters worse, people in Stages 3 & 4 said they wanted to “be fed.”  Some even left Willow Creek altogether. 

Conclusion:  Church programs are helpful initially for new and growing Christians, but as people mature in their faith church programs are inadequate and ineffective.  (Watch the videos and look at Willow Creek’s new REVEAL website for their next move.) 

My Take:  People are looking for God.  After a seeker learns the basics of the Christian faith and makes a commitment to Christ, they want to experience God, not just learn about God. 

The survey indicated that people continued to grow, not through programs, but through the practice of spiritual disciplines — Bible reading, prayer, and other expressions of personal commitment.

Small churches have a real opportunity here.  We don’t have or need the “millions” that WC says they have spent on programs.  We don’t see people who come to our church as “customers.”  For those of us in small churches, newcomers have names and faces.  They’re our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and relatives.  They know we have found a community of faith we love.  They come looking for the same thing.  And in that atmosphere, where real people have real experiences, we all encounter God together. 

That’s our strength.  Hopefully we don’t need a survey to remind us.