Choosing the most effective digital tools for stakeholder engagement
If you read our last post, you’ll remember that we looked at ways of mapping stakeholders according to their levels of interest and influence, and then using that information to find the most appropriate digital tools to engage with them.
To illustrate, we used the example of a local authority wanting to develop a plan to pedestrianise a town’s High Street. We identified key stakeholders and decided whether we needed to inform, consult, collaborate with them, or to keep them satisfied. On this basis, we chose the most appropriate digital tools to engage with them.
Informing stakeholders – with minimal effort
The beauty of digital channels is that you can reach out to stakeholders quickly, simply and cheaply. They’re a low-cost, low-admin alternative to traditional methods such as posting letters, distributing leaflets, paying for posters or booking press advertisements (although these activities can complement your digital stakeholder engagement strategy).
To maximise exposure and awareness about the pedestrianisation scheme, digital channels permit the council to reach many more stakeholders, using a mixture of interactive text, pictures and video. When complemented by traditional methods of disseminating news, the following tools and techniques allow it to provide information-rich resources to stakeholders with minimal effort and cost.
- Public web pages. The council can create a dedicated section on its website containing regularly updated information about the pedestrianisation plans, plus links to other digital channels.
- RSS Feeds. Stakeholders can subscribe to targeted RSS feeds to provide instant updates and news to their desktops and mobile devices. Ensuring relevant online subscription details are included in all disseminated information will give stakeholders the option to engage more actively — potentially becoming consultees or collaborators in the pedestrianisation project.
- YouTube channel. A dedicated YouTube video channel provides stakeholders with evidence of current town centre congestion, disseminate interviews with traders, disabled people, shoppers, cyclist, motorists, families and others who might be affected by any changes. In the interests of transparency and reaching a workable set of proposals it can be used to present both sides of the pedestrianisation debate — and give a voice to stakeholders who support and oppose the plans.
- Twitter. The authority can release news of developments as they happen, and engage with stakeholders by answering ad-hoc queries and providing links to further information. Twitter can become a useful forum of debate, engaging stakeholders in a two-way conversation and gaining feedback from people unlikely to respond to traditional stakeholder engagement methods. Simply create a unique hashtag for your project and start using it in your tweets.
- Facebook and social media. Knowing who might be interested in the pedestrianisation plans is unlikely to be clear-cut. Social and networking tools enable social media followers to ‘Like’ or share your news content, therefore bringing it to the attention of many other residents and local businesses.
- Quick polls. Short online polls give the authority instant snapshots of stakeholder feeling (without the need for in-depth analysis), and chart how it develops over time.
As you can see, there are many digital channels ideal for informing people as part of your stakeholder engagement strategy. They cost relatively little and can reach large numbers of stakeholders instantly.
Furthermore, digital channels open up the possibility of a two-way conversation. Although you may have identified this group of stakeholders to have low interest and low influence, those who actually have high interest should be provided with opportunities to register and make their views known — opening the door for you to consult with them, rather than just the ‘usual faces’.
In the next post we’ll be looking at how you can use digital channels to enhance your stakeholder engagement model. If you’d like this information now, be sure to download our free guide — Transforming Public Sector Stakeholder Engagement: Effective Digital Channels and Strategies.
Have you used digital channels to engage with your stakeholders? Are there any that you would add to our list aimed at keeping stakeholders informed with minimal effort? We would really like to hear from you. Simply post your comments below.