This is the first in a three part series about effective online community engagement by Bang the Table CEO Matt Crozier. Matt is hosting a webinar for ELGL on Wednesday, May 25 – register today to learn more from Matt! (This webinar is free for ELGL members).
I want to engage my community online – but how?
Let’s assume that you have recognized the benefits of reaching out beyond the ‘usual suspects’ and connecting with the broader community in your engagement activities. You’ve decided that online tools offer a great way to do this but you are faced with a plethora of choices.
You’ve got marketing material from eight companies offering different platforms and tools. You’ve got an IT manager who insists she can build something from scratch, your intern wants to use social media and your boss doesn’t understand why you cannot just use a simple survey plug in like the last project did.
So how do you choose?
The first thing to recognize here is that your project might need more than one engagement tool to get the right result.
Think of this in terms of the normal face to face engagement processes you have been involved in. If you’ve worked with a citizen engagement practitioner you will most likely have noticed that they have more than one technique they deploy. They do not plan every community meeting or drop-in session to be exactly the same, rather they deploy a variety of techniques, as the situation requires.
The same is true of online engagement. When it’s done well, the tools used are selected according to the needs of the project not according to what the IT manager can throw together, what’s the latest special offer or what Facebook has the capacity for.
So spend a little time planning out your engagement and what you want to get from it.
Also spend some time thinking about the needs of the community. Will they be satisfied just being able to learn about the project during a 4 week consultative period or is the project significant enough that people will become interested in it at other times?
I’ve done some thinking about what online tools you might want to deploy at different stages of a project. Obviously this will vary from project to project but it might serve as a useful rule of thumb. I’ve included a link to an example where some illustration might be needed.
Stay tuned for Part II, “Project Commencement,” publishing on Thursday, May 19, 2016!
And, don’t forget to sign up for the “Bang the Table” webinar on Wednesday, May 25 at 10:00 a.m.
More information about Matt and Bang the Table:
Community Engagement Vs. Civic Engagement