Community engagement 2.0
You have surely realised that technological innovations are increasingly influencing everyday routine within almost every organisation. The construction and infrastructure sector is no different, and professionals in that industry will soon have to change how they interact with the community. We call this community engagement 2.0.
With a mobile app like SitePodium, community engagement managers can efficiently keep stakeholders informed about both nuisances and highlights. SitePodium also provides the community with a platform for asking questions, raising concerns, and expressing their degree of satisfaction with your work.
How can you use a community engagement app successfully during your construction project? We wrote this article to help you make the right choices, distilling the information from approximately a 1,000 projects that have already used SitePodium.
Why choose an app for community engagement?
Most companies that use a community engagement app do so for the following reasons:
- 24/7 accessibility: Almost everyone has a mobile phone at hand
- Option to send reminders with push notifications
- Accessibility: Community members can ask questions or report nuisance instantly
- Creating an overview; all communication in one place
- Reputation; staying in control of the narrative during all stages of the project
A community engagement app ensures that you can provide the right information to the right target group at the right time. When the work may cause a nuisance, your community will appreciate being aware of this IN ADVANCE.
How do I measure success?
The title of this article is “Successful use of a mobile app for community engagement”. What does success mean to you? The answer will differ for every organisation or project, but we have compiled a list of indicators that most customers use in combination with their own objectives:
- Number of followers
- Number of reports via SitePodium
- Feedback from followers about SitePodium
Various other factors also play a role in measuring success:
- What type of project is it (building/infrastructure/restoration)?
- Where is the project taking place (urban/rural)?
- How long will the project last?
- What phase is the project in (planning/implementation)?
- What impact do the activities have on the community?
With an inner-city project that causes a lot of nuisance, success in community engagement is not guaranteed, even if the project has a 1,000 followers, while a project in a rural area that causes very little nuisance may be successful with only 50 followers.
You should determine in advance what is important for your organization. Reaching the desired number of followers can be futile if you fail to respond to questions or feedback.
Paths to success. How do I get followers?
If you have chosen to use a community engagement app, then success logically begins with attracting followers. You should start this in the planning phase, if possible.
With a community engagement app, you can quickly approach a large group of stakeholders. However, these stakeholders must be able to find you. You should choose channels they are already familiar with, such as social media and the local press.
Ideally, the app would play a central role in your community engagement. During your project, you may be approached through different channels. In such cases, you should always refer the enquirer to your app so that all project-related information runs through one channel. This simplifies communication for both yourself and the community.
By consistently communicating that you use an app to convey all information about your project, the number of followers should constantly increase.
Which other means of communication do I use?
Depending on the type of project and stakeholders, you can choose from various effective means of communication, such as:
- Residents evenings
- Press releases
- Building boards
- Construction fence banners
- Residents letters
- Word of mouth
- Social media
- References from other (online or offline) media
In all of these, you should always mention that your project can be followed in a community engagement app.
You may have heard of the power of repetition—it also applies to encouraging people to follow your project. Don’t miss out on an opportunity to inform the community you are using an app for community engagement.
The 7 rules of thumb for successful community engagement with an app
The following rules of thumb will guarantee success:
- Regularity: Provide regular updates (at least twice a week)
- Transparency: Bringing bad news on time is appreciated
- Timing: Communicate when it matters
- Variation: Communicate both about nuisance and highlights
- Images: An image or video says more than a 1,000 words
- Push notifications: Only use these when the update is really important
- Knowledge: People will appreciate you sharing information about special building materials and techniques
Start with an app for community engagement in construction
Want to know more about how a mobile app can help with community engagement? Discover the features of SitePodium or watch the video below.