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Principles of Digital Engagement

1. Digital Thinking is at the Core.

It's crazy to not have digital thinking at the core of any campaign; irrespective of the organisation type. Digital Engagement is marketing: digital marketing

All organisations must attempt to emulate the phenomenal success digital has had in the corporate sector.

2. Digital Transformation is the Means.

It is, by and large, pointless to pay lip-service to a digital approach. The "let's get a Facebook page" approach is wrong on so many levels.

A digital team is not the online bolt-on to a marketing department. A digital team IS the marketing department.

3. Organisational Management must Believe.

A serious digital engagement campaign will not succeed unless at least one of two conditions is true: Either senior management fully understands the digital approach (lip service won't cut it); or two: senior management has complete faith in the digital team's abilities (and gives them the resources and support to get on with the task).

Failure to effectively achieve the above, will lead to failure.

4. A Knowledge Base of Content is Essential.

The foundation of any (ongoing) campaign is a knowledge base of compelling content. Simply put, a website must have stories that people can post, for example, onto their own social media. The website is the database. It is the repository where people must find engaging content.

The structure of the website, and its associated knowedge base, must be both informational and welcoming.

5. Social Media are only Channels.

Let's knock on the head the idea that social media is the centre of the universe for digital engagement of the type that organisations require. It's not.

Social media sites are channels for people to post stories, and add value to, information derived from the website's knowledge base. They are channels that begin (and help perpetuate) the process of spreading the word, virally.

Social media sites often turn toxic and/or create their own bubbles which give an impression of false success. Social media posts are one-way peices of information. Newsletters, surveys, and other interaction is necessary.

6. Expanding Participation is the Goal.

The principal driving force of any community-based organisation is to increase membership, and ongoing engagement in the organisation's activities.

Connections must be established between an organisation and its members. People need to be able to feel that their involvement can make a difference; and effect change. That action creates movements. Physical involvement is, primarily, the result of digital engagement; not the means of achieving it.

7. Integrated Technology is Critical.

Because people browse websites and use smartphones, there is a belief that technology is straightforward to utilise. For serious digital engagement, nothing could be further from the truth.

Every successful organisation that leverages digital engagement has an impressive technology platform at its disposal. Off-the-shelf website building tools just won't cut it. Databases, online stores, websites, social media accounts, integrated research tools are but a few components.

8. The Right People must Drive the Process.

As a bare minimum, a digital team comprises researchers (with domain knowledge), along with digital engagement people of significant technical and marketing management abilities.

The Digital Engagement Officer leverages technology to drive engagement with more people; not simply to gain followers

9. A Sustainable Revenue Model is Necessary.

The organisation leveraging digital engagement often relies upon public fundraising activities. A digital campaign must support this.

In addition to asking for donations, organisations can leverage online commerce to expand revenue earning possibilites; everything from subscriptions to product sales are possible. Thinking outside the box becomes a reality.

10. Effective Engagement Paradigms are Key.

This is the bit that drives effective engagement (and that requires an advanced software platform).

A digital campaigning platform provides informational stories that educate, offering hope and change. Primarily, education on a topic should lead to the reader declaring "that’s not right!". That then leads to stories relating solutions for an issue.

Informational stories that drive a reader to want to know more, and that demand a response, are the objective. The ultimate objective though, is for the person to want to be physically involved with the organisation. First engagement is made digitally. A story must cause a reader to want to tell others; typically sharing over social media channels.

Good quality content must be accurately researched, and written-up well.