Now, having learned what I’ve learned over the last 18 months, I’ve twice this week found myself flashing up this slide at a conference to describe the elements of the digital engagement puzzle as I’m thinking of them currently:
It starts with listening – not just monitoring – but actually getting people aware of and plugged into online conversations. But it’s also about listening in the old-school ways too, through user research and feedback, intelligent use of analytics and comparative data.
It’s about doing more than putting documents out there. As an organisation that’s rich in hundred-page strategy documents, we need to use the medium of the web to communicate better, explaining our key policies and services in accessible and interesting ways, and showing the connections between initiatives. Not necessarily YouTube with everything, but using multimedia where it helps to introduce a topic. Providing layers of background, analysis, data and context, so our audiences (some expert, some casual) can explore the topic in as much detail as they so choose. The trusty hyperlink is the building block here.
We need to look across and beyond our platforms, engaging audiences with our material and our people, taking them out into the places people go online, including magazine sites, blogs, forums and social networks. That takes skills, sensitivity and humility, but can be hugely rewarding.
Perhaps the least familiar item in that list is convening – the position that government has, as an often neutral, influential force aiming for positive social outcomes, to bring people together in the service of common challenges. Where communities don’t already exist, our digital communications can help connect and enable them to collaborate online. But crucially it means not always doing it ourselves online – sometimes the partnerships and the communities we can support are better placed to meet the need efficiently and sustainably themselves.
How does that model compare to your approach?
p.s. No evaluation? That’s not to devalue reflection and analysis: I see it as running through the four elements above, but it doesn’t quite fit the model of how we approach the task as an element in its own right.