Disorderly and unruly. That's how community engagement forums used to be described. With little time for all voices to be heard, many public forums digress into shouting matches. Unfortunately when your community cannot voice their discontent, their frustrations manifest themselves in other ways. A community issue can stream onto the streets by way of demonstrations. Unhappy customers can post negative reviews online.
Online community engagement platforms are providing a way for all voices to be heard, issues raised, and problems resolved. Although the tools are easy to set up and use, they are often misused. Following are the most common ways online community forums fail to engage their users.
1. Failing to Collect Actionable Online Polling Data
An online poll can be set up in minutes. But without the pulse of your community, all your information dissemination efforts could be on deaf ears. Short polls with yes or no responses often only tell the pollsters there is a problem.
By applying professional polling data collection practices, you can ensure detailed, highly segmentable polling data is collected. This data can then be studied in multitudes of ways by slicing and dicing your demographics by issues. This forethought makes your data actionable.
2. Ignoring Online Polling Biases
The advantages of online polls also create disadvantages. An online poll will allow you to:
- Reach more people by making use of print, audio, and video media to communicate information. But each form of media can attract different numbers and types of respondents, and types of responses.
- Cast a wider net and receive more responses. But some groups will not be adequately represented (e.g., the elderly, the poor) on an online community engagement platform. Professionals, for example, may have less time to respond to an online poll, while the at-home spouse may answer many polls.
3. Failing to Ask the Right Questions in the Right Way
How questions are asked influences the types of responses received. Polls seek to measure how opinions and attitudes change over time. You may consider it harmless to throw out a few questions to see how people respond. How you frame your questions and the order in which you ask them can produce different answers.
Online public participation platforms are valuable tools for engaging communities online. Webinars and online forums provide a medium for in-depth information sharing and debate around the issues. By taking the time to properly design your questions and engagement tools, you can better understand and engage your community.
If you are interested in learning more, contact some experts such as, Stepherson & Associates Communications - InfoCommunity.