7 Signs It’s Time to Upgrade Your Community Engagement Platform
- Caitlin Ryan
- January 2, 2023
- 6 minute read
If your organization already uses a community engagement platform, you’ve most likely had time to build an understanding of the opportunities, challenges, and risks of online community engagement.
You may have observed that simple online engagements can quickly boost public participation numbers, but building meaningful relationships requires a more sophisticated approach.
As your community engagement practice evolves, you might find that your needs are growing and your effectiveness is being limited by your existing platform.
Here are seven signs it might be time to upgrade your community engagement platform:
- Your tools are limited
- You take the same approach every time
- Your engagements lack the ‘wow’ factor
- You don’t understand your participants
- You’re not getting meaningful insights
- Your team is avoiding the platform
- You’re not getting enough support
1. Your tools are limited
There is a saying that when you’re a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
If the tools you have used to collect data are limited in number or not customizable enough, you may be forced to use them even when they’re not quite right for the job. And, if you’re limiting your engagement approach to your tools, rather than adapting to your community, you could be missing out on valuable public input.
You also shouldn’t have to plug the gaps by purchasing additional tools that don’t easily integrate with your existing platform. If you aspire to be more effective at community engagement, you need a platform with a diverse and customizable set of tools.
2. You take the same approach every time
If you’re caught in a cycle of rinse and repeat, it might be because your platform is too rigid. Highly flexible platforms allow you to respond to the circumstances and requirements of each use case.
They let you mix and match your engagement tools, change the layout of your content, add supporting pages, and more. This allows you to experiment with your approach, find what works best in your community, improve your practice over time, and unlock your creativity.
3. Your engagements lack the ‘wow’ factor
Are you sick of sharing dry text, long documents, and repetitive surveys with your community? If so, your community and stakeholders are probably just as disengaged as you are. Your community engagement tools should make providing input enticing and rewarding. They should bring your content to life in highly visual and interactive ways that capture attention and invite participation.
The right platform empowers you to create well-designed, on-brand engagement spaces that deliver a wow factor that strengthens relationships and encourages your community to re-engage.
4. You don’t understand your participants
Do you understand who has participated in your engagements? If you have no idea where they live, how old they are, or whether they are residents or visitors, then your current engagement platform is not giving you enough insight.
Anonymous participation is appropriate at times, but it increases the risks of misinterpreting your results and making biased decisions that favor certain groups of stakeholders with vested interests
Effective engagement platforms provide tools to collect, track, analyze, and segment spatial and demographic information about your participants so that you can spot biases in your data and adapt your approach to reach underrepresented groups.
5. You’re not getting meaningful insights
If you’re drowning in data but still unable to unlock meaningful insights, it may be a sign that your platform is holding you back. Your reporting and analysis tools should enable you to summarise information in visual formats like charts, graphs, and maps so that you can spot trends and present your results in digestible ways.
Processing open-ended, qualitative data is incredibly important, but it is also time and resource-intensive. For example, if you collect 500 responses to a survey with five open-ended questions, your team already has 2,500 responses that must be reviewed and classified.
In these cases, you need tools that automatically classify sentiment (positive, negative, neutral, mixed) and keywords so that you can quickly get a sense of what people are talking about in real-time.
Your platform should also help you evaluate your success. For example, do you know what percentage of your visitors completed a survey, voted in a poll, or shared an idea? Do you know what documents were downloaded, how people found your site, or which emails you sent were opened?
A good engagement platform will help you measure and benchmark your performance to improve over time.
6. Your team is avoiding the platform
If you’re an engagement professional, you might not consider yourself a digital expert and may have never even built a website. Online community engagement requires a diverse range of skills and can be a steep learning curve.
If your platform is clunky or difficult to learn, it’s likely that your team will revert to more familiar patterns of doing things and resist digital approaches. Your system won’t get used to its full capacity and it will be harder to secure funding for future community engagement efforts.
A good engagement platform should be intuitive for non-technical people to use.
7. You’re not getting enough support
Have you ever needed technical support and found that the person at the other end knows less about the product than you do? Is it taking weeks or days to get a response to your requests? If you’re experiencing these issues, it’s a clear sign that you need a more supportive provider.
A good provider will teach and empower you to use the platform effectively and promptly address technical issues as they arise. They go beyond the software and act as trusted guides, helping you navigate potential pitfalls and opportunities while improving your engagement practice over time.
Level up your online community engagement platform
If you’re experiencing any of these signs, it might be time to upgrade your community engagement platform. Social Pinpoint is a comprehensive online community engagement platform that provides a diverse suite of sophisticated tools and features to help you succeed.
It is also supported by our team of passionate digital engagement experts who help you get the best outcomes, so request a demo if you’d like to start imagining new community engagement opportunities.