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Thirty-Two Percent of Influential Churches in the U.S. are on Facebook A Glimpse into Why Churches are Embracing Social Networking Sites (April 7, 2009) According to a recent survey conducted by Sojo, Inc. (Sojo), 32% of the country’s most influential churches surveyed are using Facebook. Companies and brands are not the only ones noticing the creativity and interaction benefits that the mainstream social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace offer. Many organizations, especially religious affiliations like churches, have begun to experiment with Web 2.0 technologies. Why have churches been slower to embrace these cost-effective marketing initiatives? For one, social networking sites were often seen to challenge the traditional church, temple or synagogue’s culture. The adoption of these sites is seen as grassroots and is usually introduced to the churches from the bottom up, rather from the top down – in other words, the church’s youth membership introduces it. And second, social media can be unpredictable. It encourages interaction, thus brands and organizations may fear or be intimidated by this uncontrolled environment. However, there are specific social networks available for some industries. Tangle (originally GodTube.com), the world’s largest faith and family-based social network, has 550,000 registered users. Of the churches Sojo surveyed, 13% currently have a profile on Tangle for their church itself or for some of their church’s ministries. One example of a church embracing mainstream social networking sites is Pastor Taffi Dollar of World Changers Church International (WCCI) in College Park, Georgia. Her early adoption to MySpace with her ministry, Prestige, has proven to be successful. She recognized that many individuals of her target audience were already on MySpace. Prestige’s MySpace Page is reaching out to women in the sex industry, the basis to her ministry, to empower them and help build their self-esteem and self-worth. WCCI partnered with Sojo to create these social networking sites. There are other religious organizations doing the same throughout the nation and making a big difference. They are connecting with their audience where they go instead of waiting around for them to reach them. Buckhead Church, a campus of North Point Ministries in Alpharetta, Georgia, is one of the fastest growing churches in the country. The Buckhead campus is also the campus that uses more mainstream social networking sites than any other of the North Point campuses. Second Baptist in Houston, Texas says that they are on Facebook to stay “relevant” and that it’s not necessarily their first method of choice in connecting with the youth (they prefer face-to-face interactions), but that it is effective because the youth are already on it. -more-


Rod Pearcy, the director of media at Calvary Chapel Church of Fort Lauderdale, requested every person on his 30-member team sign up for a Facebook account. “I wanted us to see and experience how the next generation was communicating,” he stated. Calvary Chapel now has a presence on Facebook, MySpace, Tangle, and they are looking into joining Twitter as well. It’s not just the youth and college age members on Facebook now. Many churches revealed that they have seen church members above the age of 35 adopting Facebook. In fact, InsideFacebook.com recently announced that in the past two months alone the number of new members over the age 35 has doubled, making the median age now over 25. Even more interesting, the fastest growing demographic on Facebook is still women over 55. Bottom line, social networking sites are giving churches more presence and a better way to interact directly with their members within their own communities, while reaching a global audience. For more information on Sojo’s survey, visit their blog at www.sojolounge.com. About Sojo, Inc. Sojo, Inc. is an award-winning leader and single-source provider of brand strategy, marketing, creative design and web services and solutions that uses its experience and knowledge to solve challenges and establish opportunities for businesses, organizations, and government agencies. We are equally intuitive and inquisitive in always implementing the best solutions for our clients. We are dedicated and passionate in our endeavors and work with the upmost integrity in regards to our practice, and have done so since our inception in 2001. Find out more at www.sojoinc.com.

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For Further Information: Nicole Galletta | Ph: 770.360.6330 | Cell: 770.639.1521 | nicole.galletta@sojoinc.com www.sojoinc.com


Churches Embracing Social Media