The emergence of the social web and the changing expectations around public participation in decision-making are coming together to create the online public engagement ecosystem. The confluence of these forces is changing the practice of public involvement and public participation.
As you prepare to consult or engage on a public issue, here’s a quick overview of the pieces of the online public engagement ecosystem and some thoughts on the implications for practitioners and communicators.
The pieces of the online public engagement ecosystem
I would propose that the online public engagement ecosystem is composed of:
- face to face consultation events (f2f);
- your consultation website;
- stakeholder and community websites;
- news media websites and blogs; and,
- social media websites and tools – Twitter, blogs, Facebook, discussion forums, and more.
The pieces are connected
The pieces of the online public engagement ecosystem are interconnected. What happens on one channel will impact and influence what happens on another channel. Understanding these connections and interactions will provide unique insight into people’s perspectives and attitudes.
Here’s an example of how this works in practice. Your local newspaper posts a story about your issue on its website. People use Twitter to share the story and a short thought on it. Someone engaged in your online consultation learns about the story on Twitter and posts a comment about the story on your consultation website. This comment sparks a conversation thread that sheds insight into one of your consultation issues. You then use the insight generated to help your consultation and communications team prepare for the next evening’s f2f public forum.
What does this mean for practitioners?
These connections are changing the practice of public involvement. Here’s what this means for you and me:
- public involvement planning must plan for the ecosystem;
- listening to and engaging with the ecosystem provides opportunities for intelligence, insight and advice; and,
- the ecosystem is “blurring the lines” between communications and public involvement;
Next up, thoughts on planning for the online public engagement ecosystem
I’d welcome your thoughts. Please post a comment, or reach out to me online.
What’s wrong with today’s online consultation platforms? They don’t reflect the social experience we have elsewhere on the Internet.
Too often, they seem like they were designed by a pollster. “I ask. You respond.”
That’s not the way we expect to be treated. We want to participate in discussions in which we are all created equal. In which followership is earned by strength of ideas and clear thinking. In which we can take the conversation where it naturally leads.
At the same time, a conversation that’s simply stream of consciousness isn’t very helpful. We want to have purposeful conversations. Discussions that crowdsource ideas and then test them against what is feasible in order to obtain actionable results. We don’t want our time wasted We want our efforts to lead to real results.
And that’s where Corum comes in. A new kind of platform for citizen engagement. A social platform. A platform for purposeful discussion.
We’re in private Beta testing now. If you’d like to participate in the Beta or obtain more information about Corum’s public release, contact us using the Contact link at the top of the page.
Posted in Corum App