Temple Square: Competitive Analysis (1)
After exhaustive research, information about digital marketing tactics employed by the Vatican and Temple Square was scarce. The following information presents details about the publicly available information for each location.
- The Vatican is constantly employing efforts to build a social media presence in order to maintain relevance and engage with its audience. Monsignor Paul Tighe, the former secretary of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications for the Catholic Church, noted that digital platforms allow a different type of communication between the Church and its followers, creating a dialogue instead of the usual monologue.
- He says “We’re learning as a church that even though the digital platforms allow us to put much more material out there to get our information across, if we want to engage people, if we want to actually impact people and change minds and change hearts, we actually have to allow people to question us—allow people to dialogue with what we’re saying.”
- Pope Francis recently declared that the Vatican Secret Archive will now be called the Vatican Apostolic Archive, as he believes the word “secret” has a negative connotation, he also declared that the infamous archives of World War II-era Pope Pius XII will open to researchers ahead of schedule on March 2, 2020.
- Pope Francis has a significant social media presence (18,1 million followers on Twitter and 6,3 million on Instagram), perpetuated by a strategy focused on positive messages of hope connected to the Church’s teachings. Most of the Vatican's marketing efforts are related to the Pope, he's currently twitting about his tour under the hashtag #ApostolicJourney.
- Vatican News, a site dedicated to directly reporting about the Pope, Vatican, the Church, and the World according to the Catholic Church, was launched in 2010 and has more than four million followers across multiple platforms.
- The Vatican is hoping to attract younger generations. According to Mathew Schmalz, a religious studies professor at the College of the Holy Cross, the Church is attempting to “reclaim a generation that is close to being lost because of all the polarization and scandals within Catholicism and the general secularization of culture.”
- The Vatican enlisted the help of digital strategy firms to understand young users and how to engage with them on issues such as climate change, immigration and poverty. It has also direct archdioceses to hire digital marketing teams to spread the message and engage with communities.
- The desire to attract younger crowds was further noted by Pope Francis stating that by listening to young people, “the Church will once again hear the Lord speaking in today’s world.”
- In its efforts to attract a younger demographic, the Vatican released “Follow JC Go”, a free to play mobile game similar to Pokemon Go, where players can collect saints and Bible characters. The app has over 100,000 downloads on Google Play.
- In October, the Vatican released the “eRosary”, a wearable device with a smartphone app. Users can activate the device by making the sign of the cross and then choose to pray a standard rosary. The device keeps track of the user’s progress.
- Temple Square markets its architecture, art and rich history. It encourages people to host private events at the location, besides showcasing its restaurants. The Temple’s blog focuses mainly on wedding and business events, with monthly posts about each topic.
- Temple Square has a brochure on its website called “Top photo spots”, released in 2016. The brochure explains how to take the best photos in each location, what to bring and the best time to visit.
- Twitter and Instagram pages are updated somewhat frequently, but fail to gather a massive following, with 4,364 and 12,100 followers respectively. Its Facebook page has a much larger follower base, with 172,263 followers. Interest in the temple has the same pattern for the past five years, always peaking during Christmas.
- The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square, formerly known as Mormon Tabernacle Choir, is a staple of the Temple and one of its main attractions. It has 542,854 followers on Facebook and 358,000 subscribers on YouTube, garnering over 200 million views.
- The recent changes in the nomenclature of the religion, from Mormons and LDS to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, have reflected on the Temple. Not only was the name of the choir changed, but there is an indication that Temple Square is looking to attract a more diverse crowd as well.
- The change was met with controversy and has yet to be fully implemented. Leaders said that the change is not a marketing effort, but some have questioned the purpose, while others found the new name and URL of the website, churchofjesuschrist.org, confusing. Considering that the hashtag #templesquare is most commonly associated with #lds, #mormon and #tabernaclechoir, the recent changes may affect the marketing efforts.
- Another interesting development concerns the Salt Lake Temple. Temple Square is undergoing a four-year renovation plan, which will change several buildings, including the Salt Lake Temple. The temple that notoriously only allowed members of the Church to visit will open its doors to the public after renovation is completed.
- One aspect of the renovation is regarding Christianity, they want people to think of Christ when visiting the Temple. Research suggests that the Church is seeking a more clear positioning regarding its views.
- Amanda Hendrix-Komoto, assistant professor of history at Montana State University, noted that at Christian bookstores, Mormonism was usually located in the cult section. Some members point out that the change may help the Church to move away from polygamy or racist stereotypes, while others feel like the change will strip away their identities.
- Dean M. Davies, First Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, said “We want everyone to know they are welcome. We want them to come and see and feel why this temple is so beautiful to us.” He adds "Now everyone—people of our faith, other faiths, or no faith—will be able to come to the temple.”
We commenced our research by looking for case studies and reports about the marketing efforts of the Vatican and Temple Square. After multiple industry-related sources, most of what was publicly available was related to religion and not the locations. Next, we performed a press scan for both locations. With this approach, we located some information about the Vatican that was covered by other requests and information regarding the renovation of Temple Square. We also discovered the controversy surrounding the name of the religion and how it affected the choir, a staple of Temple Square.
Finally, we examined the social media profiles of both locations, hoping to find insights about marketing efforts. Although both locations have a fairly active social media presence, information was superficial: Temple Square frequently posts pictures of the location as well as some religious quotes, while the Vatican focuses mostly on Pope Francis' activities, with some posts showcasing events. We also analyzed each location using Google Trends, different social media analysis websites, and analytics to uncover any new patterns that might point out to a new marketing campaign or strategy but our efforts wielded scarce results.
As a last resource, we included our findings concerning different marketing strategies related to the religion associated with the locations, as they are possible predicaments for the locations. After extensive research, we were unable to track successful digital campaigns the locations launched in the past two years. With the current renovations, we assume we can expect to see new marketing developments for Temple Square in the future, including a more inclusive rebranding. Meanwhile, the Vatican is focusing most of its digital efforts on Pope Francis and Vatican News. There is no publicly available data regarding the target visitors, but there is an indication that the Church is targeting a younger demographic in general. There are also signs that the Vatican is not looking to increase the number of visitors, as overcrowding is a recurrent problem.