Who am I Trying to Reach? Glancing at Stats

by Cowboy Bob Sorensen

There is quite a bit happening in the realm of creation science (I have posts scheduled for over a week ahead right now!), but once in a while, people like some personal glimpses and behind the scenes information, so here you go.

The other day, the pastor and I were discussing my online creation science ministry. He asked, "Who is your audience?", and, "Who are you trying to reach?" The easy answer would be, "Anyone who wants to read it", but that is rather simplistic. I pondered these questions and realized that there are several answers.

Some people use the Web as an occasional information and communications tool. They send out e-mail, newsletters, Weblogs, and they look up information when they need it. Then there are those of us who spend a great deal of time online, trying to make information available in our areas of specialty to the first group, and to people who "live" online. (There are also blogs where people write about whatever they feel like for friend, family and followers, such as my first blog.)  The social media aspect of the Internet has people with different priorities.

Who is my audience? That is actually difficult to say, since people can pretend to be someone else, being bold and beautiful behind a keyboard. Statistic recorders for sites are famous for being inaccurate and incomplete; some "hits" on the site are simply not recorded. (I have had friends write to me to discuss specific things I wrote, but their visits did not show up on the stats report.) These counters cannot be entirely accurate for various reasons including changes in software, browsers and so on. Another reason my stats are incomplete is because I make this blog available through RSS feeds so people can subscribe and read it without actually visiting the site. (Some sites will use RSS more like an announcement service, only give you a sentence and a link because they need people to come to their sites for revenue and other purposes. Since the only revenue here is mine going out, I am more interested in getting the information out there than in getting site hits.) Site stats cannot give much information about people, but I can keep track of stalkers and other regular visitors, and have fun seeing where all people come from. Perhaps the major online ministries can obtain better user data, but I am just a guy running an online ministry out of his apartment using an unregistered assault keyboard.

Facebook is a bit different. Page owners are furnished with "Insights" that break down the audience into groups. I have no idea if they are accurate or not, and have not spent time learning the intricacies. It is my understanding that a Page can have thousands of "Likes", but few of them regularly visit the Page. For The Question Evolution Project, there are over 3,200 Likes right now. The potential audience is large, but the Insights for last week said that it had 2,600 in the "Post Reach". There were only 461 "People Engaged" (yet that same column said 1,400 "Post Clicks", which seems to contradict the engagement part). By the way, the Likes rise and fall. In fact, I'd rather that people who click "Like" for the Page and then realize that it is not for them after all would be honest with themselves and un-Like it.

I have numbers. Big deal. Those statistics that may or may not be accurate. What about people? It gets more interesting here (but Facebook's numbers are subjected to what people furnish about themselves; that 22-year-old college girl from Kalamazoo, Michigan could actually be a 34-year-old truck driver in Austin, Texas). What I see on the report supports what I've heard about trends in general, that young males are more interested in origins material than females. 32 percent of my audience appears to be males between the ages of 18-34, with only 11 percent of females in that age range. Still, 43 percent from 18-34 covers quite a few people. Add in the men and women in the 35-44 age range, and it goes up to 66 percent.

The overwhelming majority of Page readers are from English-speaking countries, and most of those are from the United States. But I have readers from countries where English is not the official language, but they speak it quite well (as can be evidenced in their comments).

But this does not really tell me that much about people, it tells me about groups. Such material may be useful for retail marketing purposes, but those of us in creation ministries (hopefully most of us) have higher goals. Am I communicating? I am uncertain. As I said before, people will Like a Page and then forget it for the most part (some people will Like literally hundreds of Pages). Ever heard of "Lurkers"? They were given that name in the early days of the Internet, reading bulletin boards, Usenet and such but seldom being active. Lurkers exist today, reading various things but seldom speaking out.There are lurkers in social media (or is that anti-social media in their case?), and this applies to Christian and creationist groups as well. I know that there are regular readers and supporters who have seldom or never contacted me, but I have seen their electronic footprints — thanks for the support!

Many people are motivated to only speak out to be negative. When I asked to speak to a store manager a while ago, the manager had a tense look when I said, "I'd like to mention the cashier on lane six." "Oh?", she said tensely. "Yes, she was very skilled and personable, and she saw a problem with something we were buying and had someone bring us another one". "Oh, thanks!" Similarly, I started to talk to the apartment complex manager about the head of maintenance. The same look of dread that the store manager had, then the relief when I said that the maintenance man really knows his stuff. No, I'm not special, but this illustrates the fact that people are mostly motivated to speak out in the negative.

When I mentioned that people get bold behind keyboards, this is especially true of anti-theists and anti-creationists. People will say things online that no rational person would dare say to someone's face. Many do not know what creationists and Christians actually believe and teach (and many anti-creationists do not understand evolution very well), but they "know" that we are wrong, and must tell us so.

By the way, I do have a Twitter account, but have no idea how many people read it.

Who is my audience? Because of the psychology of people on the Internet for giving feedback and writing letters, it is difficult to tell. While I've had some enthusiastic support, I've had to deal with theistic evolutionists badgering me to compromise on the written Word of God, militant atheists going on barrages of ridicule, Christians who do not know the importance of our foundations in Genesis, cultists, Moslems, Hindus, creationists who think this is a competition — quite a variety. My readers are all sorts of people, but I can only guess as to who comprises the majority.

The other part is something that I have refined since this Weblog began: Who am I trying to reach?

As I said another time, I began this venture by believing that if I simply present links to creation science articles, people would see that creationists do have something to say after all. But this is not about intellect, it is a spiritual battle. If it was simply about intellectually examining the evidence, evolution would have been abandoned long ago and everyone would be biblical creationists. I keep saying that for every evidence, there is an equal and opposite rescuing device (excuse to deny). The hard truth is that people want to believe in evolution. Not only is Genesis the foundation for all major Christian doctrines, the main principle is there: God is the Creator, he makes the rules and we have to find out what he has said in his written Word.

There are several kinds of people that I want to reach.

First, I want to help equip and educate Christians so they can understand that evolution is intellectually and morally bankrupt, and that science is on our side despite the protestations of Darwinists. Christians need to rely on the authority of Scripture, and see the foundations of our faith that go back to Genesis. These in turn can learn more about what and why they believe the Bible, and teach others the truth for the glory of God.

Second, I am hoping this site will be a resource for homeschoolers. There is a tab at the top of the site with links to creation science and Intelligent Design materials (though I tend to disagree theologically with ID proponents, who generally do not go back to the Bible).

Third, I am trying to plant seeds in the minds of unbelievers. Sure, they rail against creationists and many even resort to outright libel, but they cannot honestly deny that creationists do use science and have support for our position. Perhaps one day they will begin to question evolution and seriously examine what has been presented as "science" and "truth", realizing that evolution is seriously lacking.

People who are curious, bored or whatever can feel free to read along (heh, as if I could stop anyone if I wanted to). Perhaps they will learn be educated about biblical creation as well.