What goldfish can teach us about effective community engagement

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_post_title admin_label=”Post Title” title=”on” meta=”on” author=”off” date=”on” categories=”on” comments=”off” featured_image=”off” featured_placement=”below” parallax_effect=”on” parallax_method=”on” text_orientation=”left” text_color=”dark” text_background=”off” text_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0.9)” module_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0)” title_all_caps=”off” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_post_title][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”http://www.thepopupco.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Goldfish_Community_Engagement.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

In the last 15 years our attention span has become shorter than that of a goldfish (yep, that’s 8 seconds to be exact). It is little wonder therefore, that it is difficult… ooo shiny… to attract and engage people in community consultation… SQUIRREL!… when there are “so many other important (note: interesting) things to do”.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Poor Little Goldfish

From recent conversations with some of our government clients, it is evident that the community engagement sector is stuck in a rut, or a fish bowl, if you will. It is struggling to increase participation rates in community consultation activities and in empowering communities to design and solve future challenges.

Swim around in the sector for a while and you end up implementing the same community engagement ideas again and again – banging your head against the bowl as most of your community continues to ignore you, not wanting to make eye contact, feed you or [shudder] “take 5 minutes to complete a survey”.

Google the term “community engagement” and the first 2 pages of websites listed are government agencies providing you “innovative” tips for effective community consultation including;

  • brainstorming with sticky notes, dots or anything that sticks to something;
  • conducting an online or offline survey; or
  • hosting a community audit.

Audiences have become sceptical of institutionalised, traditional community engagement activities but this does not mean they have switched off entirely from designing the future of their community.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

It’s Time To Find A Bigger Pond

Marketing, PR and media outlets also utilise community management and engagement techniques to promote their message and sell product. Termed “experiential marketing”; this technique immerses consumers in a unique and memorable experience with the aim of creating positive emotional associations, and therefore connections, with a brand or product.

Although marketing a widget is slightly different to consulting with the community on a council masterplan, government policy or property redevelopment, the desired outcomes are the same. Active participation and feedback.

Here are three examples of how experiential marketing could be applied to the principles of community engagement…

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” padding_right_1=”2px” parallax_2=”off” parallax_method_2=”off” padding_left_2=”2px” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”1_4″][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”15″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_image admin_label=”Analog-pop-up” src=”http://www.thepopupco.com.au/wp-content/uploads/Analog-American-Greetings_sxsw-2016.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” module_class=”pizza-making”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”165″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_image admin_label=”The-Pop-Up-Co-Community-Engagement” src=”http://www.thepopupco.com.au/wp-content/uploads/The_Pop-Up_Co_ACC_Laneway.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” module_class=”pasta-making”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”180″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_image admin_label=”human-walking-program” src=”http://www.thepopupco.com.au/wp-content/uploads/The_Human_Walking_Program.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” module_class=”knitting-vintage”] [/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”3_4″][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Public Art Participation 

Idea 1: Use accessible and fun art activities or installations to encourage people to contribute and express their ideas.

Street art inspires creativity, but public art participation encourages the expression of ideas. American Greetings recently utilised an interactive public art to disrupt, slow people down and increase engagement at their Analog installation as part of SXSW. The company invited passers by to use new technology to create, produce and write their own printed cards, letters or notes to friends and loved ones. All cards featured American Greetings brand and encouraged the audience to share images of their physical card on social media.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”50″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Pop-Up Activations

Idea 2: Utilise the element of surprise and interactive digital or written voting systems to attract people to sharing their opinions.

In April 2016, The Pop-Up Co. worked with the Adelaide City Council to increase awareness and gather ideas for its future CBD Laneways Masterplan. We installed a miniature pop-up Adelaide city in a high foot traffic area of the CBD for one day. Passers by were encouraged to write down “how they like Adelaide’s laneways” on their own mini-me poster and stick this onto the pop-up Adelaide installation. This activation received 200 times more responses than all of the previous year’s on-street engagement activities combined. 

 

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”25″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Festivals & Events

Idea 3: Events can create media buzz and excitement around an initiative as well as provide a chance for genuine face to face engagement with your community.

Simple, effective and affordable events immerses its audience in a unique, memorable experience and builds an emotional connection with the space they are in. The Lost Dogs Shelter has held “The Human Walking Program” in Flagtsaff Park in Melbourne for three years running. Office workers are encouraged to come out in their lunch break and be taken for “walkies” by a Lost Dogs Shelter pup that is up for adoption. The event went viral on social media and media news outlets nationally and internationally; attracting over 175,000 media views in Australia within the first year. The event was an engagement success too, with all pups being adopted every year within a week of hosting the event!

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”20″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

We’re not suggesting you throw away the community engagement tools that you have, but that you learn from the goldfish in all of us and consider trialling new digital, experiential and marketing techniques to your next community consultation.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”20″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section admin_label=”Section” fullwidth=”off” specialty=”off” transparent_background=”off” background_color=”#f7f7f7″ allow_player_pause=”off” inner_shadow=”on” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” padding_mobile=”off” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” make_equal=”off” use_custom_gutter=”off” custom_padding=”20px|20px|20px|20px”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” parallax_2=”off” parallax_method_2=”off” parallax_3=”off” parallax_method_3=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on” custom_padding=”|||20px”][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_sidebar admin_label=”Sidebar” orientation=”left” area=”et_pb_widget_area_1″ background_layout=”light” remove_border=”on” body_font_size=”13″ body_line_height=”1.4em”] [/et_pb_sidebar][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_sidebar admin_label=”Sidebar” orientation=”left” area=”et_pb_widget_area_2″ background_layout=”light” remove_border=”on”] [/et_pb_sidebar][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

4 event alternatives that trump a VIP launch

[et_pb_section admin_label=”section”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_post_title admin_label=”Post Title” title=”on” meta=”on” author=”off” date=”on” categories=”on” comments=”off” featured_image=”off” featured_placement=”below” parallax_effect=”on” parallax_method=”on” text_orientation=”left” text_color=”dark” text_background=”off” text_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0.9)” module_bg_color=”rgba(255,255,255,0)” title_all_caps=”off” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_post_title][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_image admin_label=”Image” src=”http://www.thepopupco.com.au/wp-content/uploads/VIP-launch-event-alternatives.jpg” show_in_lightbox=”off” url_new_window=”off” use_overlay=”off” animation=”left” sticky=”off” align=”left” force_fullwidth=”off” always_center_on_mobile=”on” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”] [/et_pb_image][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”center” text_text_color=”#515151″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid” text_font_size=”12″]

As featured on Eventbrite Australia’s weekly blog.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” text_text_color=”#515151″ use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

At a glance a VIP launch is a perfectly sound idea. You invite a bunch of people over, toast your success and ask guests to #socialmedia so their FOMO friends rush out and buy what you’re selling. Unfortunately, you aren’t the only one inviting “pro bloggers” over for a cheese plate and champagne darling. VIP launches are now as common an occurrence as the opening of a toilet seat. The only measurable outcomes are headaches, and leftover hashtags on Instagram the next morning.

In 2014/2015 the ABS reported twenty one thousand new ABN’s were registered in Australia. That’s an average of fifty-five new businesses launching every day. It is no longer a phenomenon to launch a business in a competitive global marketplace. So how do you remain top of mind and attract new customers?

Don’t put all your champagne bottles in the one ice bucket darling…

Develop a 12 month calendar of events and invite your customers to regularly interact with your product or service. Unique and engaging events will build rapport and maintain brand visibility with your customers.

Here are 4 event ideas to put in your calendar that will trump the outcomes of a VIP launch every time…

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Workshops:

Interrupt the daily grind and slow customers down with an interactive workshop in store or offsite. Position yourself as a specialist and build appreciation for your product or service by teaching others how to do what you do.

Adelaide retail cafe, Brick + Mortar Creative, connect customers with exhibiting artists through workshops and events. Check out illustrator, Doris Chang’s, watercolour and calligraphy workshop in store next month!

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Collaborate and innovate:

As mentioned in my Eventbrite “Collaborating on cool: partnerships that create event success” article, collaborating with brands on events will introduce you to new customers.

Check out Flow Athletic’s After Dark Silent Disco Yoga in Sydney in July. This event re-energises existing customers of Flow Athletic and attracts new clients looking for a unique experience.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Festival and Market Stalls:

Bring your product to the people and take your business on the road with a festival or market stall. Go beyond the trestle table set up and design your stall as if it were a mini-event. Design opportunities for interaction and tell your product’s story with signage, demonstrations, competitions or activities.

Bottle Shop Concepts‘ Game Of Rhones events showcase some incredibly unique activations. Wineries will dress up in costume, provide barrel tastings and design their stall to stand out from over 20 other wine producers.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][et_pb_text admin_label=”Text” background_layout=”light” text_orientation=”justified” use_border_color=”off” border_color=”#ffffff” border_style=”solid”]

Behind The Scenes Tours:

Reward customer loyalty with a secret squirrel behind the scenes tour of your business.

Sensory Lab in Melbourne host free roastery tours to “demystify the roasting process” for loyal customers. Events like this are a powerful opportunity to turn loyal customers into brand advocates.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”30″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row”][et_pb_column type=”4_4″][et_pb_divider admin_label=”Divider” color=”#ffffff” show_divider=”off” height=”20″ divider_style=”solid” divider_position=”top” hide_on_mobile=”on”] [/et_pb_divider][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section admin_label=”Section” fullwidth=”off” specialty=”off” transparent_background=”off” background_color=”#f7f7f7″ allow_player_pause=”off” inner_shadow=”on” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” padding_mobile=”off” make_fullwidth=”off” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” make_equal=”off” use_custom_gutter=”off” custom_padding=”20px|20px|20px|20px”][et_pb_row admin_label=”Row” make_fullwidth=”on” use_custom_width=”off” width_unit=”on” use_custom_gutter=”off” padding_mobile=”off” allow_player_pause=”off” parallax=”off” parallax_method=”off” make_equal=”off” parallax_1=”off” parallax_method_1=”off” parallax_2=”off” parallax_method_2=”off” parallax_3=”off” parallax_method_3=”off” column_padding_mobile=”on” custom_padding=”|||20px”][et_pb_column type=”2_3″][et_pb_sidebar admin_label=”Sidebar” orientation=”left” area=”et_pb_widget_area_1″ background_layout=”light” remove_border=”on” body_font_size=”13″ body_line_height=”1.4em”] [/et_pb_sidebar][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type=”1_3″][et_pb_sidebar admin_label=”Sidebar” orientation=”left” area=”et_pb_widget_area_2″ background_layout=”light” remove_border=”on”] [/et_pb_sidebar][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]