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Part 3 - Engagement metrics for live streaming

Over the last 10 years our church has been producing short 5 minute videos that we use in our small groups so have learnt some lessons about producing video content.

We’ve taken the chance to provide some help cross the following areas in 4 separate posts to try and fast track your set up.

3. What engagement metrics matter for church content online (this post)

In this post we’re looking at how we measure engagement of our services, as we move into a more permanent online world for the time being.

When you first kick off, the number of viewers may seem high - but what do the metrics really mean? If they start dropping off, how do we focus on what really matters. So here’s some ideas to track with, as you have more and more online services.

We’ve written why you want to track the metric and what your action could be depending on what the trends are telling you.

1. Live Attendance

So that’s easy enough in a physical sense but hard to know in an online sense. Hopefully you are using a platform that gives you a live viewing count (like YouTube or Church Online Platform. In many cases a whole family will be watching on one computer so one viewer stat may represent 4 or 5 people. We’ve decided to use a multiplier on viewers, of the average household size in Australia, to get an estimate of what it might be.

In Australia (and similar for the OECD countries) this is 2.6. Our first live service had 70 viewers so we’ve estimated we have about 180 attendees on our live stream.

This number is worth tracking to see whether your live engagement is increasing or decreasing. You won’t know the trend over a few weeks, but over a few months you’ll want to respond in the same way you do with your physical attendance – if its working let's keep going, if its declining let's try something different.

2. Total Views

Once the live content has played you may put that up for further viewing, so you can compare live attendance to total views.

This gives some interesting intel like:

  • How many people in your congregation are happy to just watch later and not engage in the live content. In this case you may need to consider either improving the quality of your live stream or add elements that are only available during the live stream. As an example we’ve found the live chat really helps with this.

  • It may be that the difference relates to people engaging with your content that wouldn’t otherwise normally do that. In this case the question is how can you create a call to action to connect them with the church.

3. Play Rate

This stat relates to how many people came to your webpage to look at the video content, versus how may of those actually played the video.

If this ratio is low your conversion from site landing to video watching needs to be considered. You can look to improve the thumbnails you are using (and maybe the set design as part of that) or you may need to make the video more prominent on the page.

4. Average Engagement

This is the most relevant metric you want to track - even more than those above. This is calculating what the average viewing time was of all viewers on your video. So if your video went for 10mins and the average watch time was 5 minutes then you have a 50% metric. Youtube Analytics has an Engagement tab that lets you see this as well some other cool stats.

Warning – these numbers are probably gong to be lower than you’re expecting and if you look at the stat to see how many people make it to the end it may not be great. I’m saying this (a) because it is probably sobering and it why we’ve written these posts to try and help and (b) because it is common and don’t lose heart – by measuring we can improve.

This is the ultimate view on whether people are engaging well with your online content. They may come and take a look out of curiosity, but if they don't stay we've missed the opportunity.

5. Sharing

How many time has your video been shared. If it is low this may be an opportunity to start asking your viewers to share it. We ask people to invite others to church, why not ask them to share your church content.

6. Call To Action

How do we know if our service has actually had the impact we were hoping for? One way is to create a call to action and review how many people have responded. I think this is really important to create social connection at a time of physical isolation. If people can still participate in something together there is a great sense of belonging.

I’ve put some calls to action in our final post in this series on creative content to add to your live streaming service.

Here's a snapshot of some of the metrics that are tracked with the Church Online Platform:

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