Drive Engagement Using Powerful Calls-to-Action

Dave Biggs of Metroquest has identified that one of the most important aspects of driving participants to take action is crafting powerful calls-to-action. He considers that strong messages are those that are concise and connect with people on a deep level. Here are some of his ideas to help create powerful messaging to drive engagement for a project.


Try Different Calls-to-Action

Your campaign is competing against the short attention spans of your potential participants. It’s critical to use the right language in order to motivate people to participate. Some things to keep in mind:

  • Different demographic groups will respond to different messages
  • Connect with people emotionally
  • Stories and images are more powerful than stats
  • Ask questions to engage people
  • Calls-to-action need to register in about 7 seconds

Listen to your target market early in the process to identify what their priority issues are and the language they use to describe them. From there test multiple options and see what works for each target audience.

Make It Front and Center

Your calls-to-action are key ingredients to any piece of marketing collateral you create. Make sure your message is highly visible and not buried under a pile of other text or images.

For online campaigns, use buttons and eye-catching graphics and images. Utilize a larger, bolder or different colored font. You should make it obvious to potential visitors what they should be doing. This also applies to positioning in e-mail blasts and social media.

Create a Sense of Urgency

A successful tactic is to let people know that there is a limited time for public input. When a website is up, people will assume it’s around forever. Start a countdown. In your calls-to-action and your marketing, let people know that there’s only a week left. Create urgency.

Be Concise

Your calls-to-action and even the messaging in your online engagement tools itself should be as brief as possible. For example, a MetroQuest Ranking screen title should be something like “Rank Your Top 5 Priorities”, not “Please Let Us Know Which Potential Community Directions You Would Prefer”. Be clear and use action-oriented instructions – don’t ramble on.

Relevance + Value = More Participation

Ultimately, everything boils down to one simple message: the more value and relevance you can convey in your call-to-action copy, the more people will participate. Time spent honing this message to attract your target audiences will pay huge dividends for your project. The strongest calls to action lead to dramatically higher conversion rates, and ultimately more participation.

Original source: Metroquest

Consider open feedback, not Just online surveys

Matthew Crozier, CEO of Bang the Table considers that it is important to provide engaging ways for community members to provide feedback. By engaging, he means not just asking people to fill out long online surveys, but giving them the opportunity to view other participant feedback, to interact with each other and to enjoy the process of being involved in the discussion.

matthew Crozier online surveys

He considers that whilst online surveys have their place, just as we don’t use one technique all the time in face-to-face citizen participation events, nor should we have only one method in online citizen participation. It’s important to pick the right tools for the right circumstances and the more a community can participate in a discussion in an open manner, the more inviting participation is likely to be.

He offers some examples of engaging feedback tools.

The first is from a site run by the City of Montreal and is an urban planning project. The city has invited the community to leave comments in the form of pins on a map. As you can see the consultation has received a large degree of participation. If you go to their engagement site you may also note the high amount of information provided about the project.

montreal - urban planning project

The second is the City of Perth in Australia who used the Brainstormer tool to collect ideas from the community on how to work together for a more sustainable future.

brainstormer tool

And thirdly, another Canadian site, “Shape Seniors Care,” uses storytelling to build community understanding around old age care. Storytelling is a particularly powerful way of increasing knowledge around an issue.

sharing stories

Read the full blog


No one wants to come to your meeting

Nicole C. Turnbull – an online engagement professional and social media expert had some useful tips in a recent blog.

online engagement

She considers getting anyone to attend any event even with an incentive is hard. By giving people options to engage on their own time and their own pace, everyone gets what they need.

Here are some of her tips for when no one wants to come to your meeting:

1) Try doing asynchronous activities
Don’t let schedules and conflicts stand in the way of a great conversation. Start a group or a discussion thread on  your Facebook page or group, on your website, or blog.

Try a survey if you want direct feedback that doesn’t require a dialogue., and offer both free and professional versions, and Google Forms is always free – all you need is a Gmail account. You can create awesome reports by exporting the results to various file formats.

2) Do it Live 
You could also consider broadcasting meetings online via free software like Skype or Google Hangouts on Air. This way busy parents don’t have to travel and can view from any device (even while holding a baby!)  Be sure to experiment with a test run before you go live to make sure you are comfortable with the interface. Remember to give users 5-10 minutes to log on and test their audio and video capabilities.

3) Put it On Demand. 
You can then edit and post the recorded video on YouTube for those who have missed it and host it on your web page and/or blog using the embed code.

If you’re not adept at video editing, a great option is to also do a more polished, pre-taped recording of your event or lecture. Sometimes live events can have dead space or slow moments that would make it boring for someone watching on-demand. Also, you may want to break it up into chapters or shorter segments in case people don’t have time to watch longer videos (or let’s face it, have short attention spans). 2-3 minutes is plenty.

Looking for feedback?  Invite  people to comment directly below the video or privately by posting a survey link or contact email in the description.

4) Foster Civility 
Online discussions are notorious for getting out of control if there is a disrespectful comment or opinions vary widely. This is especially true with anything involving parenting decisions! My advice is to set ground rules for civility and kindness. My favorite one is a simple acronym that can be used for any age group:

THINK before you speak. Is it…

Also note that you will not tolerate discrimination or bashing of any kind and be sure to moderate comments and report and ban users who act inappropriately.  But ask yourself: are they just being negative but maybe have a point? Don’t delete their comments as it can make you look like you have something to hide. Acknowledge their opinion and offer to take it offline so the potentially tough conversation isn’t public and doesn’t get out of hand.

5) Build Relationships
Don’t forget that you are building relationships with your audience, not just using them for feedback. Use your own authentic  voice, interact like you would face to face and get to know people through your responses.  Be sure to provide contact information and website  for follow-up interactions and future engagements. Use every live or asynchronous event as a chance to build your brand and cultivate your social media following. Taking the time to build a relationship will keep them coming back for the next event or feedback opportunity.

Read her full blog here

Aim for a five minute Engagement Experience

According to Dave Biggs, the Chief Engagement Officer of MetroQuest, attention spans are shorter than ever. In order to engage people who are in a rush or those who are less motivated, aim for a 5-minute experience.

5-minute experience

He considers it may seem counter-intuitive. but the shorter you make it, the more information you’ll collect when consulting online. It only needs to seem like it’s going to take 5-minutes when people arrive. Visitors will look around and do some quick math to estimate how long it will take before deciding to engage.

Interactive elements like putting comments on a map have a way of looking fast and then sucking people in because they are so engaging. They might spend a great deal more than 5 minutes after they get hooked. A boring 35-question survey will likely scare most people away but 3 or 4 interactive exercises that allow people to engage briefly or deeply will allow people to engage at whatever level they feel comfortable.

Original Source: Metroquest

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