Case study

Analytics

The purpose of this series was to serve as an experimental platform for Alternative Christian Media that could compete with mass media for the attention of consumers without “watering down” a Christian message. As case studies were requested, a case study is provided.

Method

An Anglican Millennial, the author targeted older clergy to express his fear that the Church will suffer demographic collapse within his lifetime, and his hopes for an Anglican Benedict Option. He projects that either outcome will be accompanied by societal instability and the growth of churches with fringe beliefs and corruption issues.

To that end, an undergraduate thesis about anomie, rejected by a university committee as politically incorrect, was re-purposed as a WordPress blog, updated six days per week. Clergy were consulted to ensure consistency with the mind of the Church. Each installment was less than a 15-minute read, and built on previous articles. While diction was usually formal, academic language was avoided. Lapses into vernacular were used to impress a point or express the Millennial zeitgeist.

Readers were solicited through a Facebook group, The Second Catholic Revival, joined by 41 people, half of whom regularly saw posts. All join requests were accepted save one, sent by a liberal Old Catholic from a vagante jurisdiction. A second Facebook group invited the author to post updates, expanding the audience to about 200 potential readers, of whom 40 were likely to see posts. Members were disproportionately highly-educated males, often clergy, some polyglot.

Outcome

Actual readership was between five and 18 visitors per day. As few as one views are recorded when the site was still under construction. Occasional readers came from every English-speaking country except South Africa and some non-Anglophone nations as well.

Readership was lower than expected; analytics suggest that even engaged readers did not always read the entire series in order. The number of group members who saw posts had no relationship to the number of site visitors.

Commenting on Facebook was expected, but not solicited; this expectation was rarely realized, but of help when it was. A prescient bishop pointed out the need of a “transitional narrative” for an Establishment faith now treating its base as a mission field.

This attempt at conceptualizing an ACM platform has had narrow, limited success. The series succeeded in articulating its author’s warning about the future of Anglicanism to an (admittedly small) target audience, and avoided mass media tendencies toward novelty and shallowness in the process.

At the same time, reach was seriously impeded by the private nature of the Facebook groups and their limited audiences. Future attempts to formulate ACMs would do well to actively seek greater attention and rely more on standalone articles.

Thanks to all who have participated. I hope you will continue! Please continue to pray for the ministry of all Anglican churches, and also for protection for those effected by Hurricane Florence.

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