Online community and stakeholder engagement are fundamental components of any comprehensive engagement strategy. They provide access to a broad and diverse range of demographics that often go unheard and, in many cases, bring a voice to the forefront that better represents the views and aspirations of the community.

Why then, have approaches to online community and stakeholder engagement remained unchanged for so many years? Think generic content, hastily thrown on a website landing page with a bland feedback form attached somewhere at the bottom (ugh, we shudder just thinking about it). Fear not, you forward thinking innovators – revamping your strategy is easier than you think, and we have 3 ways to help you get started.

Start a community research panel

A community research panel consists of citizens and stakeholders that sign-up to give feedback on request. Panels can range in size from a few hundred, to many thousands of people, and new panel members can be automatically enrolled from a web signup page, survey, email or by providing an SMS opt-in. Ideally, each panel member also provides their demographic information during signup, so you can filter and segment panel contacts to ensure you’re directing feedback campaigns to the relevant audience (a win for you AND a win for them).

Here’s why feedback panels are so effective, and why we love them so much: you have a group of highly engaged community members, who are ready to give feedback at a moment’s notice! This means less time (and let’s not forget money) has to be spent finding people to get feedback from. Furthermore, it lets you push surveys to specific demographics, allowing you to ask more meaningful questions and get more meaningful insights. What’s not to love?

Harness the power of continuous feedback with pulse surveys

Have you ever stopped to notice how often you give feedback? It’s continuous. If I forget to take the trash out (which I’ve been known to do on occasion) my wife doesn’t wait 6 months to let me know that she’s not impressed. Neither does she wait patiently for me to solicit feedback at a time that’s convenient for me (which, once I’ve realized my mistake, is probably going to be never).

So why, then, when it comes to engaging with local government and businesses, do we usually find that requests for feedback are few and far between? Good question, and if you’re one of the many who’s gotten themselves into the routine of pushing out a single feedback campaign once or twice a year (or perhaps even less frequently) …it could be, no it IS, time to rethink your strategy.

Here we’re going to introduce pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are designed to be fun, simple and frequent – think questions asked every few days or weeks, rather than months or years. By asking less questions more frequently, we’ve found that you get higher engagement rates (and therefore more feedback), enabling you to get a more accurate snapshot of the community, and ultimately better insights and benchmarking data to work with.

The keys to leveraging pulse surveys effectively are quite simple. First – remove the barriers to giving feedback. This means dropping the clipboards and “one size fits all” surveys, and using communication channels that people engage with every day including SMS, email or mobile app. These channels allow you to push dynamic surveys and content directly to your respondents, in a way that’s meaningful to them and encourages engagement.

Second – the way you ask questions and design surveys needs to be carefully considered. Fortunately, ntropy provides access to thousands of pre-designed questions in its questions library – something that’s shared, and added to, by its customers from around the world. Leverage these expertly phrased questions in your campaigns to quickly begin benefiting from pulse surveys and insightful, engaging questions.

Provide an interactive engagement portal

As you start seeking feedback from your community and stakeholders more frequently, it can become ever easier to overwhelm your audience with information. It’s therefore essential that you provide them with an online portal where they can go to view all engagement activities, track progress, find out more and get involved.

ntropy makes this easier than ever before, with an out-of-the box solution that you can customize with just a few clicks of a button. With an easy to use drag-and-drop website builder, dedicated project pages with predefined layouts, optional widgets (comments, contacts, surveys, questions, ideas, timelines), and much more, you’ll be up-and-running in a matter of hours. And if that weren’t reason enough to get started, our online portals comply with industry standards and regulations including GDPR.

If you’re one step ahead of the pack already though, and you have a dedicated community and stakeholder engagement website (or are looking to launch one soon), consider these tips provided by some of ntropy’s customers:

  1. Allow visitors to sign up and subscribe to project updates
  2. Ensure project pages allow visitors to give feedback through comments, reactions or questions
  3. Ensure your website is mobile optimized (since we anticipate that most users will visit from a mobile device)

So, now that you’re equipped with this knowledge…which strategy will you implement next?