Moving beyond physical services through online community engagement

Many community service organisations, such as libraries and archives, have been working through a significant sea change as many of their customers seek more and more digital services. These customers are experiencing a new world on line through various social platforms like Facebook and are frustrated when they are offered a digital representation of traditional services.

The challenge for organisations is to repackage their services online in a meaningful and engaging way. 

The Digital Environment

The digital environment is constantly presenting new ways to engage people and offers many benefits to organisations.

  • In the physical sense, it is expensive and time consuming to develop deep individual engagements, while online this can be automated with limited impact on resourcing.
  • You can reach the diaspora not just the locals.
  • Engagement can happen any day, any time.
  • It becomes inexpensive to collect history, knowledge and ideas from individuals.

Social media platforms, like Facebook, Flickr and Twitter, are a useful starting place for online communication but lack many basic tools to create and manage deep engagement.

Community Engagement Platforms

Community Engagement platforms are online tools that enable organisations to create and enhance meaningful relationships with individuals and organisations within their community of interest. Community Engagement platforms leverage the physical connections and extend reach and services to the online realm, enabling organisations to work seamlessly across the physical and digital worlds.

Increase your Relevence

Tweet: Organisations find that adding online community engagement to their physical services increases their relevance often find that by adding online community engagement to their physical services they increase their relevance to both customers and parent organisations.

Once effective engagement with the community has been established, non-traditional services can be added to extend the reach of the organisation and its parent.

For example, local authority libraries, community groups, museums and archives can leverage digitised collections of heritage artefacts to attract more information and content from the community. This creates a deeper and richer sense of place and identity for residents, and reinforces the community as a desirable place to live.

Support Current Activities

In addition, organisations use online community engagement to support current activities through promotion, capturing events, opinions, emotions and artefacts in real time. These can then be communicated back out to the community in real time using the platform in connection with social media, developing a depth and richness to the participant experience.

Planning for the Future

An important part of engaging with any community is planning for the future and an effective online community engagement platform lets organisations seek ideas, gather feedback and even vote on concepts. This could range from town planning matters, to event organisation and so on.

We believe in lasting online engagement within a community, and recognise the principles that need to be considered for capturing past and present information with a view to building identity as well as informing and perhaps setting future direction. Read our blog post titled “The Principles of Community Engagement” for ideas on how to create a lasting community engagement model.

Contact us if you would like to know more about establishing a platform to support meaningful online services and develop an effective online community engagement strategy.