In today's rapidly evolving digital landscape, local authorities find themselves at a crossroads, facing the dual challenges of engaging their communities effectively and adapting to the ever-increasing demands for transparency and participation in decision-making processes.
The answer to these challenges lies in the power of social media, a dynamic platform that has transformed the way we communicate and interact. As we move towards a more connected society, it becomes increasingly imperative for local authorities to harness the potential of social media in their consultation efforts.
This article explores the compelling reasons why local authorities should embrace social media as a tool to foster engagement, inclusivity, and transparency in their decision-making processes, ultimately building stronger, more resilient communities.
From widening the list of stakeholders, you can connect with, to providing feedback on the outcomes and consequences of a consultation, online engagement can enrich the methodology on what you can deliver in your pre-consultation, dialogue (live) stage and post consultation.
Using social media in consultation processes offers a multitude of benefits for local authorities and the communities they serve. Here are some key advantages:
Increased Accessibility and Wider Outreach: Social media platforms are widely accessible and user-friendly. They break down geographical barriers and can be accessed from various devices, allowing a more diverse and broader audience to participate in consultations. This inclusivity ensures that a more comprehensive range of voices and perspectives are considered in decision-making.
Convenience for the consultees: Delivering the consultation to where your audience already is a huge bonus. There is a good chance they will see the post if they are following you already. This is also allowing people with busy family lives to see and participate in the consultation.
Connecting with the existing communities: These communities often provide diverse and passionate set of stakeholders, dependent on the topic being discussed.
Data Analytics: Social media platforms offer robust analytics tools that help local authorities track engagement, gauge public sentiment, and analyse data in real-time. This data-driven approach enables authorities to make informed decisions based on concrete insights.
Cost effective methodology: You should already have at least one audience at your fingertips. For example, social media pages your local authority already have to communicate with the residents. A targeted paid marketing approach is also available on a low budget if organic reach doesn’t work.
In summary, integrating social media into consultation strategies empowers local authorities to engage with their communities more effectively, promote inclusivity, and make data-driven decisions.
Let’s look at how social media can be used during different stages of your consultation.
The uses of social media for a consultation
Explore existing conversations and provide insights on the topic you are looking to consult.
Run stakeholder mapping exercise and identify digital communities and online influencers that could act as advocates during a consultation.
Publicise the upcoming consultation to warm-up the community.
DIALOGUE (LIVE) STAGE
Helps you monitor the progress of your live consultation.
Allows you to continuously promote your consultation and identify any groups that aren’t responding.
Enables you to support consultees during the live consultation stage.
Allows you to address and correct any ‘fake news’ or misinformation swiftly and effectively.
Social media can provide statistical analysis of the audiences that have engaged with your posts, breaking them down into useful categorisation, e.g., demographics.
Complete the consultation loop and share the results of the consultation.
Explore the sentiment of the results in your consultation.
Share the consequences and outcome of your consultation as well as next steps.
In conclusion, the integration of social media into consultation processes represents a transformative leap forward for local authorities seeking to engage their communities in a more meaningful and inclusive manner.
By harnessing the capabilities of social media, local authorities not only bridge geographic divides but also enhance their ability to listen to, understand, and respond to the diverse voices within their communities. This, in turn, cultivates a culture of transparency, trust, and active community participation.
⚡️ Your 3 key takeaways to consider in your community engagement when leveraging social media
Social Media Enriches Consultation:
↪ From expanding your reach to new stakeholders to offering real-time feedback, it's a game-changer in terms of how you conduct pre-consultation, dialogue, and post-consultation phases.
Not a Standalone Method:
↪ While social media opens up new avenues, it shouldn't be the only tool in your toolkit. It's crucial to integrate it with your existing methods rather than treating it as an entirely separate channel.
Early Integration is Key:
↪ Planning is vital. Social media engagement should be thought of from the get-go, and it should complement, not replace, traditional consultation methods. This approach allows stakeholders more ways to engage and gives them the freedom to choose what suits them best.
Remember to optimise your online community engagement efforts and let technology be a bridge, not a barrier
GoCollaborate is an affordable online consultation and engagement tool, that helps to create better, more prosperous and more sustainable places to live, work and play.
Book a demo to learn more about how our online consultation platform can support your community now and future generations.