Monday, June 07, 2010

R12: Hindsight

So after (what felt like) sprinting through the Living on the Edge book, I wanted to look back at what worked and what didn't. My motivation for structuring this "virtual small group" the way I did was twofold: one, I believe in the message and I wanted to get it out; and two, I wanted to see if this was an effective medium for delivering this message. In other words, I cared about this and I wanted to know if anyone else did either.

Bad news first. What didn't work:

  • Length: It wasn't my intention to rewrite the book, which I effectively did with each post. But I wanted to get more in-depth than just a review. Honestly, I would read a chapter, sit down at the keyboard, and whatever came out was what you saw. There was some early criticism of the length, but I wanted to be thourough enough that someone could participate without having the book and those who were compelled to pick it up, would have an additional perspective to deepen their convictions.
  • Pace: This goes with length. Posting daily thoughts on each chapter might have been more palatible if each post were shorter. I kept the pace I did because each chapter was short, and if I followed the standard one-chapter-a-week pace, it would've taken half a year to complete. Both length and pace were a drain on me and I'm sure they were on the reader as well.
  • The R12 videos: My original plan was to link the videos on Facebook and use that as a springboard for discussion there. Instead, I couldn't embed those videos and Facebook was defaulted as another link to this blog.
  • The LOTE Facebook page: After an initial positive response to the idea, I posted (mostly) regular discussion points on Living On the Edge's Facebook page. I didn't get a single reply once I got started, though I did gain a couple of followers that way.
  • Facebook and Twitter: My experience was that I only got a few "hits" from these social media sites. So I can't say either increased my traffic (which wasn't necessarily my goal, but was a metric of how interested others were in this topic).
  • MOTIVE ME: These were pulled straight from the book and I was hoping they would initiate discussion. They didn't and I am guilty myself of not following through on some of the actions that should have followed each chapter to deepen convictions. In other words, I wrote about it a lot, but I failed to put my own words into practice.
What worked:

  • Facebook and Twitter: While they didn't increase traffic, I had some good discussions on Facebook and I gained several followers on Twitter. What is encouraging was that many of my new followers on Twitter are involved in some form of addiction ministries, which tells me I hit a nerve there.
  • I used to link my posts up on Twitter which would then update my Facebook page. I used Network Blogs to also update my Facebook status so FB got hit twice. But while I didn't get many hits via Twitter or Facebook, I got a lot of traffic from StumbledUpon. I gained over 30 new followers and averaged over 40 hits (which is huge for me) on each post just from StumbledUpon.
  • Most commented: On Facebook, ironically a post that I failed to copy a link to this blog, I asked "Do you blame others for who you are? Do you blame God?" That struck a nerve with a few friends and there was a (by my standards) lengthy debate that followed on nature versus nurture.
  • Most retweeted: From Twitter, What does a Surrendered Life Look Like? And from StumbledUpon, both Are you Ready to See God Do the Impossible? and Will You Let Christ Heal You? (via the clever tweet: cursing the bird does not clean the windshield)
  • Most clicked: Are you Ready to See God Do the Impossible?

So, what's next? I need to back off the daily grind of posting, though I didn't intend to fall completely off the net last week. Expect to see 3-4 posts a week returning to my roots of posting commentary on current events mixed with some "deep thoughts" I gain along the way. I also attended a writer's conference a couple of weeks ago, and I need to take that side of my writing more seriously. Hopefully I'll have good news to share in the future with this venture. I'm also going to take this blog to the next level (step two in my three-year plan) so look for updates hopefully soon.

I'm likely not going to do a chapter-by-chapter study of another book. But I do plan on using books to spring off studies. While I need to catch up on other reading, I also have a backlog of books that I wouldn't have if not for this blog. I owe a review of John and Staci Eldredge's Love and War, thanks to Kevin Martineau I have the book Transforming Church in Rural America by Shannon O'Dell, and thanks to Peter Pollock (a long time ago) I have If God were Real by John Avant. The latter two scratch an itch that will turn into a study series down the road.

Thanks for participating in my study. Hope you stick around. Finally, for you, the reader, what worked for you and what didn't? Please give feedback so our next study will be even better!

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