Now it’s time to get back out into the neighborhood and ask your questions. Get creative, get offline, and make sure people have a way not only to answer your questions, but also to let you know how best to get back in touch with them. SMS is ideal.
Meeting people where they are is a crucial part of good engagement. One way to do that is partner with established and trusted community groups. The Listening Post project in Macon, Georgia was looking to grow participation in its community media initiative. It decided to team up with one of the city’s most beloved annual civic events, April’s Magnolia Soap Box Derby, and pitch a mutually beneficial engagement collaboration.
Thousands of locals come to see fellow residents race homespun cars. The Listening Post project wanted to tap into that audience, so they offered event organizers the opportunity to use a cell phone based platform to facilitate voting via text message for the Best in Show prize. As Derby goers voted via their phones, they also received a text message asking them for their feedback on the event. The Listening Post Macon team shared that valuable information with the Derby organizers. Participants then received a short text description of the Listening Post and were asked if they would like to participate in the ongoing project. 400 new participants joined via the Soap Box Derby event, and stayed part of the project, giving them access to conversations on topics ranging from education to gun control.