At OurSay, we are frequently asked about the best way to promote a community engagement project: traditional approaches like local newspapers, or social, such as free or paid posts on Facebook.
While both traditional and social media each have their merits, there’s one thing you need that is absolutely, and we mean absolutely necessary for your community engagement:
You need a way to measure the return on investment for your engagement.
Our experience shows that for many people their community engagement promotion is still a mysterious black box - newspaper ads and Facebook promotions go in, and some engagement pops out the other side. In 2017, this just isn’t the way to get value for money, and the only way you’ll find the right mix of promotions to suit your community is to start measuring!
Here is a neat example which came across our desk this week:
Building on their experience mixing traditional media promotion with social media posts, our friends at Rural City of Wangaratta (RCW) were able to see serious jumps in engagement during their latest community consultation.
Here's a screengrab of the Engagement Data from Nov 2016 - Jan 2017
Wanting to understand the big jump in engaged individuals around late November/early December a little better, RCW cross referenced their promotions calendar with online data about how people arrived at their Forum page
It’s clear that the spike was largely due to an unpromoted Facebook post made in early December. From that post, RCW connected with 63 new people who posted an idea or voted on their Forum page.
63 people. From a free post! Now we’re talking about value for money.
Given that the other paid activities (traditional media) did not see anywhere near as much engagement, it’s obvious that social media was the winner for this campaign.
So while you can argue about whether using social or traditional media is better suited to your community, there is no way you can get by in 2017 without being able to measure your return on investment every time you promote.
Note: While the rest of the Facebook posts didn’t get close to that same response, this may come down to RCW reaching their maximum reach on the platform before needing to pay to promote their posts. A little extra budget in this department could go a long way in future campaigns.
For another interesting example of measuring engagement, read how Cardinia Shire Council used targeted promotions to consult properly with young families and youth.