Although it might seem like things are getting better, we are still amid a global pandemic. We’re all stuck with a little less socializing and a lot more anxiety about the world. Regardless, it is crucial to keep your residents safe, happy, and healthy. As such, reaching out to the public to keep them engaged and informed is perhaps the best way to ensure that your organization and your residents are on the same page. There are a plethora of benefits that community building and engagement could bring. Here are six actionable strategies that you can start implementing to keep your residents engaged and informed.
6 Actionable Steps to Keep Your Residents Engaged & Informed
1. Give Your Residents a Platform to Express Themselves
Firstly, a community is nothing without its residents, and unsurprisingly, your residents are a critical factor in your community, whether you work in a nonprofit organization or a municipality. In the public sector, you work to improve the lives of your residents, and giving them a platform to express their opinions, share their experiences, and talk about the things that matter to them is vital for a healthy dialogue that will earn their trust and satisfaction. The more your residents feel like they are being heard, listened to, and valued, the more likely they are to remain in your community and on your platform.
Strategies like employing user-generated content are a handy way to bolster your online presence. It is also a foolproof way to demonstrate to your community that you care about their ideas, ideals, and values. Send out an email newsletter encouraging residents to share photos or posts through Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook to win a prize. You can utilize Zoom or Skype to officiate a town hall meeting digitally, keeping the health of your residents in mind while also allowing your constituents to level with you with upcoming legislation or regulation. With your residents getting participation and engagement and your brand getting content, it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book and a win-win situation. Furthermore, this allows you to pinpoint your residents’ problems, annoyances, and worries, giving you the chance to identify and fix them.
2. Utilize Community Moderation
With any community, online or offline, the residents in that community will probably have varying opinions on any given issue. However, with the anonymous nature of the Internet, it’s essential to keep your community safe from offensive, inappropriate behavior.
Moderating your community is vital in preserving a healthy outlook upon your community. While online, toxic behavior can spoil the atmosphere of your community and make your residents feel uncomfortable, as seen time and again through the many social media networks that have tried and failed to combat this behavior. Once a few bad apples are given free rein to post offensive comments under the guise of “free speech,” then it is almost inevitable that your residents will be affected negatively.
Therefore, to minimize the chance of that happening on a digital platform, it is best to have a hands-on approach to community moderation: be sure to plan a moderation policy. What language do you consider inappropriate? Should specific topics be off-limits? Be clear in your approach, with clear, understandable rules that use clear, understandable language, and enforce it. Perhaps you could even automate part of the moderation process, automatically detecting spam or setting specific keywords to delete or ban. Offline, however, is a bit different, as there is no automated system in an in-person meeting, for example.
As such, if you’re moderating in-person events such as town hall meetings or panel discussions, you can ensure that the conversation goes smoothly by implementing these tips. Do thorough research on the topic(s) at hand. Meet the speakers before the panel. Manage time effectively by starting and finishing on time. Mix in audience questions throughout the discussion to ensure a conversational, more engaging dynamic. Most of all, don’t be afraid to cut the panelists off if they end up hogging the microphone.
3. Identify Your User Base for Community Development
Using community engagement strategies is not a one-size-fits-all process. Given the state of the world and your organization concerning it, it’s a safe bet to say that your user base is probably very diverse—a great thing, as it means that your reach is far and wide. However, as a previous article suggests, it can be challenging to approach a broad audience and ensure that everyone is receiving helpful information that matters to them. Therefore, identifying your main user base is one of the most important steps you can take when deciding how to keep your residents engaged.
It is crucial to operating as an organization rather than a business. Knowing your residents allows you to create a better service and increase awareness of your organization and its mission. You can do this easily by collecting data from focus groups and surveys and utilizing different media types such as radio and television to determine which reaches your core audience best.
Gamification serves as one of the best, most engaging examples of resident engagement strategies that we have ever seen. As we grew up, gaming incentives hooked us throughout our lives, and that element often follows us into adulthood. Even in the short term, adding a gamified element to your marketing will encourage positive competitiveness. It will ensure the bonus of keeping your residents coming back for more. One of the main goals of gamification marketing is to increase user interaction. You can implement strategies like running contests or a loyalty reward program. These are all simple ways to “gamify” your marketing.
5. Talk With a Community Manager or Leader
Working with community leaders is a viable strategy to help engage the residents in your community by working with a person they trust. However, like most residents, you’ll want to start by identifying your community leaders by asking the following questions:
- Who do you already know?
- Who does your staff, trustees, friends, or even foundation groups know?
- Which organizations have you developed personal and professional relationships with?
- Who are the busiest and most visible residents in your community?
- Who is already an advocate for your community?
- Which organizations and people share the same values and mission as your organization?
This is what we call “mapping out your community.”
After answering these questions, you can identify these community leaders and, more importantly, why the residents in your community elected them as a leader. After, you can evaluate how you want to contact these leaders—either through email, letter, or a personalized visit. You can even set up an interview with them to help gather information about the target community’s needs. From there on, you can build relationships and identify potential partners and collaborators to help you achieve your goals.
6. Welcome New Residents to Your Community
Welcoming newcomers isn’t exactly a new idea. Housewarming parties and neighborhood get-togethers had come up with it first. Regardless, welcoming new residents is an excellent way to make them feel valued. With this validation comes a much higher likelihood of engagement and involvement with your network. Something as simple as setting up a welcome email will do the trick. Your organization needs to acknowledge people for engaging and participating in your organization. You could also explain your organization’s mission and your community’s purpose. You could even give them ideas for their first piece of user-generated content. Simple, yet very effective.
Whether a nonprofit, a municipality, or a traditional marketing group, your organization must engage, retain, and inform your residents. Either way, it’s crucial for your group’s success. That’s why you should contact PivotPath today to see the latest tips, tricks, and guides to bolster community engagement and more.