What is the best way to market your engagement project and increase participation rates?
Let’s start with an example of what doesn't work... Subscribing to an online engagement platform, creating a beautiful project site with icons, images and content. Then simply putting a 'click to have your say' text link to it somewhere on your organisation's website.
Don't be surprised when people are not finding the link or clicking through to your project page.
Luckily, we've seen what does work. Try creating a tailored marketing strategy for your specific project, defining your target audience, determining how you are going to reach them, understanding what information you want to collect from them and what participation rates you need to achieve desired results.
Depending on your audience there are a wide range of tools and techniques available to reach your stakeholders and communities, such as traditional media, paid advertisements on social media platforms and promotions on high trafficked areas of your existing website.
And let’s not forget the importance of combining online engagement with traditional offline methods. Get out there, meet the people face to face and personalise their experience – and be armed with technology; bring tablets to public meetings, set up kiosk style stands, add QR codes to printed material and show them the benefits of using the technology. Bringing the technology to the people, teaching them how to use it, is particularly useful for less tech-savvy communities.
Regardless of what method you use, it is vital that you track and
measure the results and refine the strategy as necessary to reach your target participation rates. There is no secret strategy that works every time but tracking your engagement, learning what works and continually fine tuning will help to get the desired results.
A big budget doesn't necessarily mean that you'll get big results. The best results are achieved by creating an upfront community engagement plan created with a thorough understanding of your project, the community / stakeholders and the technology available to help get the best outcome. And of course, effort - you can't expect to get results by sitting back and waiting.