Lesson #1: Use An Online Engagement Platform To Build Your Community
I recently shared a presentation giving my top 10 lessons for online citizen engagement with a group of engagement professionals in Vancouver, Canada and thought there may be value in sharing them more widely.
These are lessons learned in collaboration with over 300 clients and more than 4000 online engagement projects in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the USA, using the EngagementHQ platform to reach out to the community and engage them at different levels.
I’m going to publish these one lesson at a time to make them bite-sized and consumable.
– Matthew Crozier, CEO
This is central to our philosophy as a business. We help our clients build a community around their online citizen engagement processes. Using a platform like EngagementHQ to do this is important because it allows you to build and keep your audience rather than starting afresh each time. It also means the community become accustomed to what is expected.
There are many engagement ‘tools’ available that typically lend themselves to a single use. A project might need some community feedback so you deploy a survey. When the project is finished you switch it off again and have your results. Simple and effective for the immediate needs of the project, but this does nothing to help with all your future projects and as such represents a wasted opportunity.
If instead you use a platform like EngagementHQ, all the people that contributed to a project then join your community database to be notified about future projects or opportunities to engage. They effectively become your online community and as this community grows you will find it easier to get meaningful and diverse feedback across a range of projects and issues.
I have chosen the Sydney Your Say site to illustrate this because of the range of projects the City of Sydney talks to their community about at any one time.
Depending on when you are reading this article, you will find a whole range of both small local and large strategic projects on this site. Each one builds their online community and in so doing contributes to the reach of future projects.
Read our case study examples about a couple prior City of Sydney consultations including:
The Crescent Skate Space
Sydney City Centre Public Art
What’s more, is that over time, the community comes to know you care about their feedback and that this is a safe space where they can come to influence what is happening in their community.
Evidence shows this sort of platform-based approach to online engagement can significantly increase the audience you are reaching in a relatively short time.