Consumer Focus have launched a Digital Engagement Cookbook on a website providing a large directory of engagement methods and guidance on what to use in different situations. The press release says that it is:
… to help local authorities, charities, retailers, service providers and campaign groups, amongst others, to explore the new opportunities that the digital world offers for engaging and empowering citizens and consumers. Digital engagement is not only important for organisations in the public, private and not for profit sectors, it also has the potential to change how individuals and communities live and interact. Taking part in local decision-making or discussing future policy can make a real difference to how people think about themselves and their role in society.
The website aims to help users decipher which technology-based methods are best-suited to consumer empowerment activities such as campaigning, consulting and collective action. It is one of the most comprehensive, categorised collections of digital engagement methods on the web and includes over 140 links to examples of them in action.
The website will help public engagement professionals to explore the full range of ways to engage consumers effectively, and think wider than social media or web-only methods. The Digital Engagement Cookbook examines methods from webinars and online forums, to serious games and crowdsourcing, and everything in-between. It offers practical examples and detail on putting the methods into practice. It also gives in
Consumer Focus recently produced a report Hands up and hands on – Understanding the new opportunities for localism and community empowerment which I wrote about here. That explored the (mainly non digital) challenges of local engagement in the context of the Government’s localism policies.
The Digital Engagement Cookbook site has been created for Consumer Focus by Dave Briggs and Fraser Henderson of KindofDigital and ParticiTech. I know both, and have great respect for their expertise in this area, which may colour my judgement! It is certainly a terrific resource, and as someone working in the field I delighted that they and Consumer Focus have done the hard work of assembling, categorising and linking methods.
Having said that, I think the big challenge for anyone seeking to use digital methods and the cookbook is, first, how to plan an overall engagement process, and then secondly how to blend online and other methods: the top message from our recent event.
There are links on the site to others providing guidance on that, but at the moment there isn’t really any integration with overall engagement process methodology. I’m guessing that trying to do that as well would have been quite a challenge.
Maybe the next step is for engagement practitioners to take a look, and reflect on how they could enhance their processes by drawing on the cookbook, and hopefully collaborating on some next stage development if that is planned.
Any ideas on how we might do that as part of our exploration here?