On July 1, 2011, I volunteered myself for a month-long social media experiment (see Social Media Lab Rat). My not-so-diabolical plan was to follow the instructions laid out by Chris Forbes in a post called Pastor’s 10 Minute Jump Start Guide to Social Media. So, for the last month I’ve been trying to do the following things:

  • Participate by finding “at least four ways to participate each day” in my social networks, “and only comment or respond with sincere participation”
  • Network by doing my “research and find [one or two] new people to follow each day”
  • Share by taking “some time each day to share something, at least twice, with those in [my] networks” and
  • Create by sending tweets, updating my status, posting candid shots, “or other original content.” And “about three times per week, write a blog post and link to individuals and pages in [my] networks.”

Before I check in with the results, I want to point out while the title of Forbes’s post implies that one need take only ten minutes a day to do these things, he’s really talking about 10 tasks a day. What I’ve been doing over the last month took much longer than 10 minutes a day. (I’ll say more about the implications of that in a future post.) At any rate, here are the “metrics” I was tracking during this experiment:

For this blog: blog hits per day; blog hits for the month; number of posts over the month; number of subscribers; number of “shares.” (I also added the average number of comments per post at the suggestion of a regular commenter). On Twitter: number of people I’m following; number that are following me; number of “tweets” per month. On Facebook: number of followers. On Klout: my overall score.

So here’s out everything shook out (first number is from the beginning of July, second number is from July 31):

  • Blog hits per day: 52/52
  • Blog hits per month: 1558.5/1623
  • Number of posts per month: 10.83/14
  • Number of subscribers: 12/12
  • Number of shared posts: 37/46 (9 shares in July)
  • Comments per post: 1.82/2.5
  • Twitter following: 452/587
  • Twitter followers: 359/418
  • Total tweets: 2,518/3844 (1326 tweets in July)
  • Facebook friends: 359/397
  • Klout score: 55/62

I plan to blog more about this soon, but in the meantime, suffice it to say that it’s definitely possible to build one’s online presence by being attentive to the four areas Forbes mentions: participating, sharing, networking, and creating. The end results depend on how much time and energy one puts into the enterprise. Truth be told, I found it a bit exhausting to keep up with all four areas, which leads me to believe that for religious professionals serving in congregations, developing this kind of online presence will require a social media strategy that’s totally integrated not only with congregation’s website, but with the congregation’s mission, vision, and values as well. More later (including a rundown of some nifty tools that make this much more manageable).