by: Colleen Dane, Director
Online engagement has come a long way in recent years. In fact, it came a long way in 2020 alone. Where it started with standard social media outreach – more and more local governments are turning to engagement-specific platforms like Engagement HQ, PlaceSpeak or Ethelo to create hubs of interactivity with their constituents. Participation in these is picking up pace and – perhaps in one of the few benefits of our COVID-19 world – increasing in traction as people look to get ‘hands-on’ with online engagement.
Clear objectives, straightforward content and appropriate participation opportunities are all key to creating your engagement hub. But once you have that all set, here are a few other things to remember that will help make your plan a success:
promote the platform
Along with informing your community about the initiative, remember you’ll also need to inform them on the platform itself. These are still fairly new to people and they will be learning how to use them and maximize them while simultaneously engaging on the content. This is not a case of ‘if you build it, they will come’ – you will need to build it AND find ways to get people there easily.
make friends with your neighbours
Other organizations are using these tools as well, and you can benefit from reaching out and making connections where audiences may overlap. Both of you will benefit from some cross pollination – so looking to neighbours who are using the platform and connecting with them about ways to share updates can be a valuable tool to building your online engagement community.
stick it out to the end
You can’t ‘set it and forget it’ with these online tools. They’re useful and efficient, but they still need your time throughout the process – Right. To. The. Very. Last. Day. And then, after the last day, they need to be appropriately put to bed. This shows respect to your participants and establishes the reliability that will have them coming back for the next project you’re taking online.
What do you ZINC about online engagement platforms? Are there things that have worked or not worked for you? Send us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org with your thoughts/ideas.