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. SurveyMonkey.com, and Emailmeform.com 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.