The real KPIs of Community Engagement
At the heart of any community engagement strategy is the need to connect and engage with people with busy lives. Best practice engagement is about developing meaningful relationships with citizens, and fostering a culture of trust and collaboration.
So how can you measure engagement?
Thanks to digital engagement platforms like District Engage, it’s easier than ever to roll out effective public consultation campaigns, and smart tools and instant reporting enable you to reach your target demographics and get feedback in real time.
Are these the only KPIs that matter?
According to one social media post that went viral, the answer is no. Instead, as the post suggests, the “real KPIs” are Keeping People Interested, Informed, Inspired and Involved.
[caption: Roland Kahn, LinkedIn]
While the original post wasn’t specifically about community engagement, it does highlight the importance of putting people front and centre as a measure of success. So what would this look like for community engagement projects?
Let’s take a moment to consider the International Association of Public Participation’s (IAP2) spectrum of community engagement:
If we are aiming to achieve the “real” KPIs, then it’s not enough to just inform and consult. Our community engagement projects must enable citizens to collaborate and be empowered by the consultation process.
In this article, we examine ways we can harness the power of digital engagement platforms to foster collaborative and empowering relationships with the community, and smash those KPIs at the same time.
Keeping People Interested
In a fast-paced digital landscape, capturing and maintaining the interest of community members is vital. Thanks to digital engagement tools, practitioners can easily reach out to people across a variety of communication platforms, and by using compelling content such as video, eye-catching graphics, and interactive storytelling, you can pique curiosity and attract attention.
Once they’re onboard, the challenge is to keep them engaged. That’s where a community engagement platform like District Engage can help. Once users have expressed interest in a project, you can keep them updated about the project’s progress with regular updates that are sent as notifications. Discussion threads on the project website keep the conversation flowing, while forums and events offer opportunities for face-to-face consultations that encourage a higher level of community input and help build meaningful relationships.
These strategies to keep people interested in your community project help foster anticipation and excitement, which can encourage long-term participation.
Keeping People Informed
Transparent and effective communication are the cornerstones of a successful community engagement project, which is why a comprehensive communication strategy is vital.
If you’re using a digital engagement platform, you’ll have access to tools that provide opportunities to communicate important information promptly and effectively. Visitors to your project website will be able to see a schedule of works and milestones over the course of a project on the Timeline, and project Updates can be posted online and delivered via email notifications.
As part of your communications strategy, use social media, print, newsletters, and community forums to keep the community in the loop about the ongoing initiatives, opportunities, developments, and upcoming events.
Prioritizing timely and transparent communication helps to cultivate trust and credibility, which are essential for effective long-term community engagement.
Keeping People Involved
Genuine community engagement empowers citizens to actively participate and contribute to projects and policies that affect them and their communities. Done well, it can result in improved outcomes for public projects and policies. Long term, it can foster trust and build stronger communities.
While all community engagement interactions are useful, the best outcomes happen when the relationship is at its most collaborative. When an individual gets deeply engaged with an issue, they are most likely to share insights and experiences that can have a significant impact on policy or project design.
So how can you keep people involved in your project and build that active relationship?
The trick is to use a variety of engagement tools. While surveys and quick polls are ideal for attracting interest and attention, it’s important to capitalize on that initial engagement with follow-up devices. Your digital engagement platform will offer a variety of tools to stimulate engagement and build momentum.
Consider how our digital engagement tools could transform your project:
- Forum: A safe interactive space for community members and decision-makers to engage in threaded discussions.
- Geographic mapping: By prompting users to share photos and spatial feedback directly onto a map with a pin drop, you can collect community insights for specific geographic locations.
- Brainstorming: This virtual wall allows the community to share ideas and vote for their favorites, encouraging community contributions and collaboration.
- Quick polls: Perfect for gathering quick feedback when you need instant results, this jumpstart participation tool is easy to embed in your social media campaign.
- Simple & advanced surveys: Our form builder includes embedded media, two-step validation, and question-based logic allowing you to gather sophisticated feedback from your audience.
In addition to the digital tools on the platform, make sure your engagement strategy includes live events, such as webinars, town hall forums, pop-up consultation hubs, or community BBQs, to encourage that deeper connection to the project to develop.
By encouraging community involvement, you foster a sense of ownership, co-creation, and collective responsibility within your community.
Keeping People Inspired
If your organization is committed to community engagement as a long-standing endeavor, you’ll understand the importance of developing strong community relationships and a collaborative and constructive partnership with citizens. Such a commitment requires an organizational and cultural shift towards empowering your community.
So how do you build such a culture of community empowerment? One way is to include the practice of storytelling in your engagement projects. Drawing on individual stories is a powerful way to illustrate the impact and real consequences of a project on individual lives.
Storytelling is an important part of your communications strategy and can be an inspirational motivator to encourage engagement. Along with your communications channels, stories, case studies, and testimonials can also be shared on your digital engagement platform.
As well as storytelling, consider inviting experts, guest speakers, and thought leaders to community engagement forums to provide valuable insights and motivations. Online forums and discussion boards are ideal spaces for knowledge sharing and collaborative projects to keep people inspired and engaged.
For community engagement practitioners, designing projects with the intention of enabling citizens to collaborate and be empowered by the consultation process is guaranteed to deliver powerful results.
By leveraging the potential of digital engagement platforms and innovative consultation tools, we can create dynamic and inclusive spaces where individuals are motivated to actively participate, contribute ideas, share their personal insights, and make a meaningful impact within their communities.
And that is a real measure of success.