This guest post is by Anthea Robinson-Shaw, Engagement and Client Account Manager with Bang the Table
Now, more than ever, tighter budgets and fewer hands-on-deck may require spending justification when considering online engagement. However, when truly investigating the value of online engagement, this cost-benefit relationship goes far beyond numbers. While in-person consultation will always be present, there are limitations that make the inclusion of online engagement beneficial to both your projects and stakeholders.
Throughout the lifetime of any project, as a constant presence, and for community engagement projects to continue during COVID, online engagement is essential.
Consider these 10 points when evaluating online engagement for your organization:
- Allow citizens to engage 24/7 on matters of importance to the individual living in that community. By maintaining a constant presence, the individual can engage when it suits them, and organizations are able to hear from more of their citizens.
- Help citizens to connect with each other, so more voices can be heard and understood. Through open dialogue, citizens can have conversations and share input in a safe transparent way. Engagement platforms with a combination of automated and human moderation services can take the stress away from your administrative team while maintaining a safe space for participation.
- Citizens can work towards collective solutions. By seeing peer input, community members can build on each other’s ideas. Build trust by allowing the community to provide input that will help work towards better solutions.
- Save time and resources compared to in-person engagement. By combining in-person and online engagement, costs are reduced per participant. Online engagement will drive traffic to in-person engagement, as will the reverse.
- Less effort required to yield higher participation levels online. Increase participation at a fraction of the cost per participant and increase the capacity of your engagement team. In-person meetings are costly and often require travel and a great deal of preparation and time. Including online engagement helps reduce the number of meetings while increasing your reach and participation rates.
- Increase team’s efficiency to collect, analyze, and report on both qualitative and quantitative feedback with access to data at your fingertips. An online database offers reporting on an entire engagement project, analysis of text responses, as well as sentiment and survey analysis without hours of data input. Capture and process informed input faster, and more in-depth, with fewer resources.
- Improve transparency. By using online engagement, citizens can easily see the transparency in process and participation while enabling organizations to promptly facilitate and provide updates. Online engagement projects allow ample time for participants to gather information and participate as informed cohorts. Providing information that is easy to absorb, in interesting formats, is readily possible online.
- Mitigate risk by building trust. Lack of community partnerships and relationships may lead to public pushback on community decisions, project delays, and lost funds. Building transparency and trust between your organization and stakeholders can mitigate these risks.
- Mitigate risk by reducing misinformation from spreading. Ensure diverse, disenfranchised voices in a community are heard, no matter their constraints. Empower those who cannot attend in-person events by offering more ways for community members to provide input on their time. Rather than only hearing from the same few voices who always attend events or may be the loudest, online engagement allows you to collect a greater population sampling for your decision-making process.
- Grow an engaged citizen base that you can regularly reach out to, at a fraction of what it would cost to start fresh each time.
On October 22, 2020, join Bang the Table’s Anthea Robinson-Shaw, Engagement Practice Lead, and Meghan Ruble, Head of Client Services-North America, for an in-depth look at the broader ROI and some insights on the cost benefits of bringing online engagement into your organization.