Congratulations! You’ve completed an online engagement project and it’s important to pause, take a breath, and give credit where it’s due.
This is an opportunity to reflect on what’s been achieved and what you’ve learned through the process.
But now there’s both good news and bad news...
The good news? You’ve started growing a database of active online community members!
The bad news? Well, it’s not so bad, but these databases aren’t reliable forever. They say in the marketing world that from day one your list of engaged people begins to decay, and it’s no different in this case. If you don’t start reaching out with new opportunities for engagement and communication, it’ll be harder to reconnect with these people in the future.
We see this with everyone that makes the change and embraces online engagement strategies, so we also know that to keep your good results going and to grow your active database you need an engagement plan for the next 3 - 6 months.
To do this you should consider all the possible engagements over this period and start allocating resources - staff time and financial. Then set realistic expectations that reflect a) your community’s familiarity and uptake of online engagement b) the interest / newsworthiness of engagement topics and c) some wiggle room that allows your organisation to develop trust and skill with the online channel over time.
Here are some recommended ways you can use online engagement beyond this first project:
South Gippsland Shire Council used online engagement strategies to allocate $400,000 in four different towns across the Shire.
- Planning Amendments
City of Monash communicated with their constituents via an online Forum to explain and justify the lastest planning amendments within their region.
- Consultation for Public Space
The Rural City of Wangaratta sourced suggestions from the community regarding what new facilities were needed on the site of a former pool.
- Regional Strategy
The Victorian State Government conducted a massively successful online engagement to inform drought relief policy around the affected regions of Victoria.
Remember - if you haven’t achieved the expectations of success that were set early on, there is no such thing as a ‘failed engagement’, only more opportunities to learn.
It can take time for your organisation to understand how to promote to and engage with your community, just as it takes time for your community to understand, trust, and get involved with online engagement.