Small businesses and local governments rely on the power of their communities to help them thrive and accomplish their goals. If businesses do not have their community behind them, there's a good chance they won't be around for very long, and local governments would be hard-pressed to get anything done without support or feedback from their constituents. Luckily, these days there are many ways community engagement can be achieved. This engagement can be further enhanced by automating some of these efforts.
4 ways to enhance community engagement through automation
Most organizations nowadays, whether they be businesses or governments, have a website to provide information regarding their products or policies. But are these websites reaching their full potential in terms of collecting vital information that can be used to better engage with the community?
Chances are, they're just sitting there and not providing the owner with anything useful.
The simplest way to gather useful information from a website is to embed a form on it to collect information from visitors. Forms can be used to see who needs more information about available services; who'd like to join a mailing list; who's interested in signing up as a volunteer at an event; or what have you. With automation software, data collection is even simpler as form submissions are automatically compiled into easy-to-read reports an organization can use to analyze the responses received.
Another way to optimize your website in order to improve your community engagement efforts is through the use of tracking links and pixels. These are embeddable links that can be inserted into text and images on a website that will collect data about the number, time of day, and origin of clicks received to that portion of the site. Web tracking can help an organization see what areas of their website are getting the most traffic and whether there are areas they need to pay more attention to or improve.
Knowing how many visitors your website receives and to which specific areas allows organizations to know what these visitors are interested in. They can then focus their community engagement efforts on the most popular aspects of what they do. On the flip side, maybe the organization would like to increase awareness about a less popular item or service.
Social media engagement
Social media is the ever-evolving monster that been becoming more and more vital to engaging people and communities alike. Facebook and Twitter still remain the most popular platforms among users, with Facebook leading the way at 2.19 billion monthly users. With these stats, it's hard to believe that a business or government can be absent from all forms of social media.
Social media platforms are one of the most valuable ways to improve community engagement as it gives organizations the opportunity to connect directly with the masses. Unlike a website or other traditional forms of engagement, these platforms allow for the personality of the organization to shine through in a way that is sure to engage followers and build a relationship with them.
People may think that creating and maintaining a social media presence is difficult and time-consuming, however, with automation it doesn't have to be. With an automation platform, you are able to create and schedule social media posts weeks or even months in advance and they will post automatically without any manual interaction needed. The right platform will even publish posts sometime within a set window of time so that the posting doesn't appear too automated.
Of course, replying to followers is a big part of community engagement. So, while the majority of an organization's social media presence can be maintained automatically, it is still beneficial to check on these accounts every once in a while. It helps to provide a human element that can respond to questions and comments, and otherwise interact with followers in a way that automation simply cannot.
SMS shortcode engagement
Another way to enhance community engagement with the assistance of automation is through the implementation of SMS shortcodes. Shortcodes are shortened, five or six-digit phone numbers that are easy to remember. People can text into these shortcodes to receive an automated response depending on what keyword they text to the number.
Once a business or organization obtains a shortcode number, they can configure the automated messages to be sent once someone enters the designated keyword. For example, a government can encourage visitors to text in the keyword VISIT to the shortcode number and they will receive information about the community and its attractions.
It's not only visitors who can be engaged with using shortcodes, either. Community residents can use it to learn more about local businesses and events. The same shortcode number can have a multitude of keywords configured to provide all sorts of information to the community. Automatic unsubscribe and HELP features can also be configured through the automation platform. Though implementing shortcodes may require a little more work up front, once all messages have been configured it's just a matter of letting the automation take care of the rest.
Community engagement isn't just about the marketing of a business or PR for a local government. It can also be about potentially saving lives and increasing awareness during an incident. Whether it be warning community members about an impending weather event; an amber alert; or a notification of a serious car crash, mass notification can benefit a community in so many ways.
Mass notification is an essential tool for all communities. Local governments especially should have a system in place to engage the residents whenever an unexpected situation arises and give them the proper notification and warning, so they can prepare themselves for any eventuality. Businesses can use mass notification to engage employees and clients whenever their operations have experienced a disruption that has the potential to affect service.
An automated emergency communication platform can help a community remain aware and knowledgeable during any incident and allows community officials to focus on the mitigation efforts. By having the ability to create notification templates that can be sent to pre-configured contact lists, officials do not have to worry about the communication side of the incident as this process can be launched in seconds and carried out automatically.
Want to learn more about community engagement?
SimplyCast provides an all-in-one engagement platform that includes tools for automating any communication process to help with engaging community residents. Check out our automation platform and see how it, along with all our other products can assist with community engagement efforts.
Contact us today if you have any questions, and sign up for a free 14-day trial of the platform if you are interested in learning for yourself just how intuitive and easy-to-use it is!