A recent Sensis report showed that 87% of Australians are accessing the internet on a daily basis.
With 9 out of 10 Australians active online, and social media platforms now the central marketplace for ideas, our capacity to engage the community in targeted and effective ways is unprecedented.
However, community engagement strategies must be more than setting up a Facebook page and harvesting likes. The space is crowded and noisy and our audience quickly tires of broadcast messaging.
With that in mind, here are the four key trends that we see shaping public sector capacity to build effective community engagement campaigns in 2017.
Trend #1: Increasing reliance on visual content
Statistics show that content marketing is vastly more effective when paired with videos or images. Visual content conveys a message more quickly and concisely and with greater emotional impact.
A recent article by INC.com showed that the majority of people only skim the content they read online. Posts that included images produced 650 per cent higher engagement rates than text-only posts, and they estimate that 84 percent of communications will be visual by 2018.
How can you make your content more visually engaging?
Trend #2: The popularity of social media platforms is never fixed
Social media is a marketplace that attracts innovation and disruption, and the popularity of different platforms waxes and wanes.
It should come as no surprise that Facebook is still the #1 most-visited social media site in Australia. Recent statistics show that over 9 million Australians check their Facebook account daily. Instagram and LinkedIn are also established platforms with a loyal user base, however Twitter’s star seems to be waning. Interest-specific platforms like Yelp! and Foursquare seem well past their hay-day.
Where are your precious resources best focused?
Trend #3: There are reasons people are using social media
The reasons Australians are using social media are as multiple and diverse as the users themselves. As you’ve probably guessed, very few people are using it for the purpose of engaging with public sector agencies! However, this does not mean social media isn’t an effective tool through which to reach out to your community and increase participation.
The point to keep in mind whenever sharing your content is why people are on social media in the first place – primarily to connect with friends and family and share interesting content. Framing you messaging in this way, delivering rich content in a friendly and familiar way, will increase your impact.
Does your messaging connect with user motivations?
Trend #4: Different people engage on different platforms
People use different social media platforms for different reasons. Understanding which platforms your audience is spending their time on, and how they are using them, gives you the advantage of pitching your message in the most effective way.
There are some interesting splits that emerge in the table above. You’ll see that the best platform to reach the over 65’s is Facebook – an astonishing 95% of users of that age group are to be found there. It is also interesting to note that Twitter is favoured more by males than females, and Pinterest is primarily female based.
Which platform is most popular with your target audience?
Focus on User Experience
This means there are four key questions for building effective community engagement campaigns on social media:
- How can you make your content more visually engaging?
- Where are your precious resources best focused?
- Does your messaging connect with user motivations?
- Which platform is most popular with your target audience?
Essentially this boils down to making the community the focal point of your engagement strategy, and tailoring your messaging and choice of mediums around your audience’s tastes and preferences.
Of course we are only scratching the surface here, and if you’d like to know more about increasing participation in online engagement, please download our free Online Insights Guide to Increase Participation in Online Engagement.