Constituent engagement is often grouped with general communication efforts. However, engagement, when given the opportunity, can encompass not only a larger group of communicators, but also a larger audience of message recipients. We’ve organized a few attributes of a strong engagement strategy:
Understand your technology. We’re technology consultants so you knew this one would be the first point we make! Until you know what technology you have and what it’s capable of, you won’t be able to confidently determine what outlets your engagement strategy should utilize. Do you have live streaming capability? Do you need registration functionality? Also, and maybe most importantly, do you know how to fully utilize the technology you have? It’s not always about having fancy or expensive software, but more about knowing how to utilize what you have. Your team can invest a lot of money in a tool and use it very poorly or, someone on your team can know all the ins and outs of a free platform and use it really well. Finding the right balance of functionality for your institution’s unique requirements is the first step to an effective engagement strategy.
Keep logistics in mind. Recently, organizations had to make quick changes to how they were delivering content. In order for adjustments (like going 100% virtual) to go smoothly, try and consider if what you’re putting in place can be updated once you receive feedback, need to reach other audiences, have to quickly change outlets, etc. Always think about creating reusable messaging that can span various channels such as live streaming, pre-recorded video, email, as well as on-campus presentations. Getting used to communicating and engaging with constituents through a variety of methods means you’ll be ready for anything.
Be careful with segmentation. Tailoring your message to reach a target audience can be highly impactful. However, the more you segment what you’re communicating and to whom, the more work you create for you and your team. Generalizing isn’t always the best route but perhaps sharing where to find information vs. only sharing specific content can drive traffic where you need it and keep constituents informed.
Stay action oriented. Last but certainly not least, if you’re going to put effort into building an engagement strategy, place a lot of emphasis on the desired outcome. Always come back to this point when building a plan. At each step, ask if what you’re implementing supports the overall goal and measure the results. Did a live-stream webinar drive more completed applications than last year’s pre-recorded youtube video? How much did your conversion rates improve after you added live chat to the webpage? If you can’t answer these questions, then you don’t have a complete engagement strategy. Understanding impact is just as important as understanding how to implement and execute.
Especially within universities, various teams or departments will need to share audience-specific communication. When an overarching strategy is in place, technology capabilities and standards are implemented through all channels to create consistency in methods and messaging. To learn more about creating an engagement strategy and the benefits associated with a strong strategy, reach out! We’re always happy to have a conversation.