Informations and abstract
Keywords: Catholicism, Marketing, Branding, Market Share, Demographics
Digital media use by religious organizations is often associated with evangelical Christians. In cities with multiple churches, however, Catholic parishes are increasingly employing digital marketing and branding strategies to differentiate themselves from other religious organizations. The study presents an ethnographic case study of St. Mary’s Catholic Center, a student-oriented parish in Central East Texas with a strong social media presence. Investigating the motivations, rationale, and strategies behind St. Mary’s social media use three key themes were discovered: functional tool use in which media are evaluated as neutral tools for reaching a specific target demographic, experiential marketing in which media are used to advertise St. Mary’s as the ideal religious experience for local university students, and morally justified branding in which clergy and staff believe that they have a moral imperative to market Catholicism in the local community. The study recommends replication through a further investigation of these themes in larger geographical regions in order to better understand their effects.