Who goes to The Catholic Spirit website? And why?

| April 13, 2012 | 0 Comments

You may be surprised at what a survey of Internet viewers found

 At times people are looking for a specific story or specific information when they click into TheCatholicSpirit.com, but many also come to the main Internet presence of the newspaper of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis “surfing or browsing to read/view whatever grabs my attention.”

That’s not an unexpected finding from a survey of web viewers conducted last month.

What may be surprising, though, is the age of those Catholic Spirit web viewers.

While the Internet used to be thought of as a young person’s media vehicle, nearly 90 percent of those who come to The Catholic Spirit site are 35 and over.

Moreover, nearly half are 55 and older.

The research comes from a SurveyMonkey.com survey conducted during the month of March. It drew 437 responses. The survey had a margin of error of + or – 5 percent, and a 95 percent reliability factor.

(If you’re curious, right about 5,000 unique visitors have been coming to TheCatholicSpirit.com each week lately, some weeks a few more than that, other weeks slightly less.)

 Survey says…

Here are highlights of the survey results:

  • Much like the readership of the print Catholic Spirit, on the website women viewers out-number men 2-to-1.
  • 60 percent usually see TheCatholicSpirit.com from a home computer, and another 31 percent from work.
  • Three-quarters of viewers are from the Twin Cities metro area; nearly 15 percent are from outside Minnesota.
  • Half of web viewers have yet to watch a video on TheCatholicSpirit.com.
  • One-out-of-three people shared a Catholic Spirit web story with someone else via email; 1-of-10 have done so through Facebook, even though 93 percent of our web viewers have a Facebook account, and 34 percent say they use social media like Facebook or Twitter every day.
  • On the other side of that story, 1-of-4 never use social media.
  • When asked if they would be willing to pay for viewing TheCatholicSpirit.com, 88.8 percent said no, nor would they be willing to pay for an app to more easily access the site on a Smartphone.
  • However, just over half of respondents (52 percent) said they would be willing once a year to make a donation to keep the Catholic Spirit online.

 Our divided church

The ideological divide among Catholics found its way into the open-ended questions in the survey.

In answer to the question, “TheCatholicSpirit.com would be more valuable to me if,” representative answers included comments such as:

  • “Stronger catechetical content.”
  • “There was more commentary on ‘both sides’ of issues….”
  • “More on apologetics.”
  • “I expect it to be 100% faithful to the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.”
  • “Less emphasis on Social Justice. More emphasis on church teachings, and theology.”
  • “It focused on how we can better serve God through helping our neighbors.”
  • “It featured more FEMALE WRITERS, INCLUSIVE TOPICS, and PROMOTED THE LAITY in our Church.” (Emphasis the respondent’s)
  • “It were Catholic.”
  • “It wasn’t a blog for the Repug (respondent’s word) party.”

 Bevy of good ideas

There were helpful comments about what would make the site more valuable, too, such as:

  • “There were kid-friendly/family-friendly activities to share.”
  • “Coupons and discounts for Catholic merchandise and programs.”
  • “Broader list of authors recommended reading.”
  • “If it carries more diverse info.”
  • “Mobile app?”
  • “It had a place to ask for prayer.”
  • “If it had a deeper intellectual side to it…say if professors posted on deep theological issues.”
  • “Tell more stories about what is happening in the churches that usually don’t get press, especially outside St. Paul.”
  • “There were more links to other Catholic resources (bloggers, general articles on Catholic teachings, etc.).”
  • “There was more interaction than just reading.”

 Reason to chuckle

Many respondents took the opportunity to comment that TheCatholicSpirit.com was fine just as it is, and a couple added a bit of humor to the 20-question survey.

Completing the sentence, “TheCatholicSpirit.com would be more valuable to me if,” one person wrote, “it took care of the kids while I read it. :)”

Another’s response was, “if it could do my job for me so I can spend more time reading The Catholic Spirit.”

Thank you to all who participated. And, by the way, constructive criticism and suggestions always are welcome.

Bob Zyskowski is The Catholic Spirit’s associate publisher. Email him at zyskowskir@archspm.org.

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