Month: January 2016

Online community engagement for land-use planning

For a land-use planner community engagement is generally undertaken in a traditional form (an ad in the local newspaper, notification on Council’s website and or a public hearing) because it is a necessary, legislated part of the process. In the past it has seldom been seen as a crucial part of the process that leads to better decisions and better outcomes for all stakeholders. However, effective community engagement should be both expected by the community and built-in to the project plan at the start of any project.


As we move into an online world the mentality of a land-use planner needs to change. The traditional methods of community consultation are becoming insufficient and the need to engage through alternate methods, including online tools, is a crucial part of the planning process. Effective community engagement is starting to be seen not just as a legislated part of the process, but a necessary part of the process due to the value it adds to a project.

For the community, online engagement provides  a platform for a wider cross-section of the community, who are traditionally difficult to engage with, to easily access correct information 24/7 and get involved at a time and location that is convenient for their lifestyle. It allows a realistic representation of the community, which ensures the best outcome for all stakeholders, and not just a vocal minority.

For the land-use planner, online engagement tools give a platform to provide project information to the wider community and manage misinformation. It ensures that costly negotiating with a vocal minority, which can often lead to budget blowouts and timeframe delays, to be minimised. Importantly, it provides a level of job satisfaction for the planner, knowing that they have prepared their plan with their plan with input from a wide cross section of the community.For the elected representatives, it provides transparency for their decisions.  The decisions made by elected representatives often come under scrutiny. Online engagement not only provides decision makers with an insight into what a large cross section of the community is thinking, but also  enables them tomake decisions based on real data. Such decisions are less likely to come under scrutiny.

For the council (or agency, or consultant, or state department), making a sincere effort to engage with a wide cross-section of the community and actively seeking community involvement in decision making is likely to promote a positive relationship between the two stakeholders.

Original source:




N.B. Socialpinpoint is based in Australia  – but if you are based in the UK of other parts of Europe do contact Peter Bates for more information on online engagement public consultation tools.

Tools Don’t Build Online Communities – People Do

Online strategies aren’t just about setting up accounts on the right platforms – your strategy needs to involve true engagement. Engaging and driving online communities requires planning, risk management, and a cohesive objective that is clearly stated to all of your key staff members.


1. Word-Of-Mouth Only Goes So Far

You need a plan. Simply signing up for an account on any given social platform does not mean your organization has fulfilled its obligation. Social connections via your chosen networks are not obligations but opportunities to engage directly with your members, prospects, fans, or clients.

As your message spreads and your community grows, how will you feed the appetite for more? Will you be equipped as an organization to create and disseminate your message?

This direct connection requires a clear plan with regard to infrastructure, integration, and, most importantly, a set of rules and policies for disseminating your message. There is nothing more important than a planned and coordinated process for responding to inquiries, comments, and requests.

2. Identify Your Advocates and Feed Them

The key to any community is the full engagement of its members. Early on in your campaign you will discover those advocates who are willing to share your message and push that message to their respective networks. With every Facebook post, tweet, or blog post your advocates wait to share what your campaign is providing. Gaining the trust of your online advocates and providing them with a continued stream of shareable content provides ever expanding reach; in turn pulling in more campaign advocates from their respective networks.

Reward their efforts. Recognize and identify your advocates publicly. Thank them whenever, wherever, and however you can. These individuals are the backbone of your campaign’s success.

3. Trust Your Community

Astute observers of successful online campaigns understand the nuances of online communication. Well planned, effectively executed online campaigns have assessed the risks at hand and understand how to mitigate those risks when required.

Just as your community trusts and advocates your campaign, you in turn must trust your community when negative comments or posts arise. Well-fed advocates who have been provided with the right tools will assist in regulating your community – most times without direct intervention.

Ask yourself before you begin: Do you understand how to mitigate risk? Can you identify those in your community who are your advocates? Can you identify those in your community that are Influencers?

4. Rules Of Engagement – Rules / Fears / Clarity Over Control

The rule of online engagement has shifted, placing the power of the message in the hands of the viewer, consumer, or visitor. The intention of a Rules Of Engagement policy is not to handcuff those posting and engaging online. The intention is to provide a set of guidelines for disseminating content, insuring all messaging is on brand, on target, and true to the core message. Direct brand connections create deep inherent value and keep visitors and advocates coming back.

Engaging in social media requires a shift in the way organizations view themselves and their relationship with the public. The shift is happening on a cultural, organizational, and individual level. Before committing resources to a social media program, organizations need to know how to mitigate the risks while maximizing the rewards.

The first step is to create a safe space for staff, volunteers, and other stakeholders through clear, effective social media policies. Clarity over control.

When everyone involved knows the purpose of the organization’s social media initiatives—if each individual is clear about his or her role in achieving that purpose and the parameters in which they can participate—those social media initiatives will be that much more successful from the start.

Do you understand the nuances of your community? Have you provided your key internal staff and your community manager with a clear objective?

5. Tools Don’t Build Communities – People Do

Many times online social engagement continues to fall back on the tools an organization commandeers to share their brand message. However, those tools don’t drive themselves. It’s the people that organize and implement the campaign who are the key to a successful campaign.

Your community manager, the advocates, and the influencers will make or break the success of your online initiatives. Can you identify those in your community who are your advocates? Can you identify those in your community that are Influencers? Have you empowered your key internal staff with the tools they require to create a successful online campaign?

Original Source:Momentum Marketing

Why being Mobile-Friendly is so Important

According to Dave Briggs, the Chief Engagement Officer of MetroQuest, in recent years we have witnessed the explosive growth of internet users on mobile devices around the world.


In 2015, there were more Google searches on mobile than on desktops for the first time. 47% of Facebook’s 1.55 billion users only use it on their phone.

According to Forrester Research, 75% of US adults use 2 or more devices connected to the internet and 67% have switched devices while completing common tasks. In addition, 62% of US online adults expect a mobile-friendly website.

Pew Research found that in 2015, 99% of smartphone owners use their phone at home, 82% use their phones while in transit and 69% use their phone at work each week. As more and more people use their phones and tablets as a part of their everyday life, you need to make sure that you’re not left behind.

In order to reach out and engage with harder sectors of the community in public consultation, there is a need to reach them where they spend their time – on their smartphone. This means a consultation website to be a mobile-friendly website.

Full article

N.B. MetroQuest is based in Canada – but if you are based in the UK of other parts of Europe do contact Peter Bates for mobile-friendly online engagement public consultation tools.