Engagement in the digital age

Published on by Ben Lowndes


We recently hosted a workshop at the RTPI Wales Planning Conference about the importance of digital engagement. This blog covers the key points from the workshop along with the slides delivered on the day.

Social media has brought profound changes to the way we work, and opportunities to our clients over recent years.

There are some excellent examples of organisations building networks, gathering insight and improving their operations as a result.

In many ways, the principles of good engagement – particularly the need to listen and respond meaningfully – are evident across the digital landscape. This makes digital a critical part of what we do.

Why digital matters

You don’t have to take our word for this: there is plenty of evidence to demonstrate why digital matters.

The overwhelming majority of people’s media interactions are screen based, according to recent research by Google. Meanwhile, trust in business and civic leaders, journalists and other influential pillars is falling. Authenticity, even when spun, has become a core currency.

Used properly, digital can help organisations reach that fabled ‘silent majority’ who are so important to consultation activity.

Five tips for great digital engagement

Here are five things you should consider to bring some real value to your digital engagement activity.

#1 Listen to what people are saying: Social listening platforms enable you to systematically collect online conversations about a specific phrase, word, or brand. This can be done on a local area if required.

#2 Build links with key networks: New patterns of influence are emerging beyond our traditional stakeholder groups. These groups could be people with big social media followings, bloggers, Instagrammers or YouTube artists. Make sure these people are part of your engagement plan. 
#3 Let real people tell your story: Some organisations are giving those who are trusted tools and training to engage in genuine, human conversations. Make the most of this if people are willing to do this for you.
#4 Use data to inform your approach: Analytics platforms can answer questions which inform your content and messaging approach. They can also help you identify influencers around a topic or geographical area and provide context around visibility and reach of a piece of content.

#5 Post frequently and target your content:  Posting frequently will help your content be seen by people who matter. Paying to promote posts by postcode, age and area of interest will ensure your content is more visible.

Here are the slides from the session


Ben Lowndes

Ben Lowndes about the author…

Ben heads up the South West and Welsh offices and has been at the sharp end of major communications and media campaigns for more than a decade, working local and national government, developers and politicians in that time.

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