Tag Archives: engagement

Digital Engagement Cookbook launched: how might we use it?

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?

6 ways to use digital tech to support marginalised young people to engage socially and economically in their communities

Imagine you’re a young person of the future.
Imagine you’re a young person living right on the fringes of your society.
Imagine you’re a young person who’s spent the last 12 years in traditional schooling, has had enough and can’t wait to leave, even though you’ve no qualifications and only a handful of life skills.
Easy? Difficult? This post is about what any one of these young people might need to be able to engage and make a contribution.
1.    Inspire and believe in them
Stoke the fires of their interest and cultivate their enthusiasm for using digital tech to express their views, open or anonymously. Invest in them as producers of content and as each other’s consumers. The web’s already given many people a platform to do this and young people are leading the way in adoption of new tech that will tomorrow be commonly used.
2.    Ditch traditional approaches to education
Focus on unshackling them from institutionalised approaches to learning and the process you’ve got to go through to earn a living and be successful. Apps4good show us how to do this, taking a new approach into mainstream settings and showing young people there are ways to learn less conventional approaches to earning. It’s not just about taking new approaches into traditional places though, the web (and video in particular) offers anyone the ability to teach anyone else anything, in your own time, in your own place free from dogma. You can even earn money teaching other people useful stuff.
3.    Build for them
Relentlessly create new platforms that allow people to connect with one another. The Facebooks and Linkedins of 5 years will connect people in even smarter ways than they do now. Imagine being a young person on a bus and being able to look around you and view the social media profile of other travellers. Imagine being a successful business owner and being able to view the real time profiles (skills and talents) of young people travelling on the same bus as you. Barriers come down, new connections are made and partnerships are formed.
4.    Teach them how to engage others
Teach them user centred design. Teach them co-design.  They’ll be the one’s working with tomorrow’s youth to develop inclusive online and offline services for youth. Get this done now and we won’t be asking the same questions in five years time.
5.    Cherish the value of those on the edge
Value what young people on the fringes have to contribute. No one else can give their perspective as the rest are all ‘in-the-box’, not out of it. By people on the edge I mean the real minority groups within minority groups:  unschooled young people, young runaways, young people who’ve grown up in multiple countries, the ludicrously talented… Letting people on the edge lead can feel very risky but it’s often where the best ideas are born.  Edgeryders are a great example.
6.    Teach them to use tech to make tech
Teach them how to learn to use tech quickly. Develop their confidence in using tech to build tech. If you can learn rapidly and have support to believe yourself and make use of what you learn then you’re on your way to creating a living for yourself and connecting economically with society. If footballers can create apps then anyone can use tech to earn a living.
This article has been inspired by David Wilcox and Tim Davies’ call to contribute to a provocative post to their exploration into how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities.
About the author: Joe mixes words and tech for social good. He’s a children’s advocate turned copywriter and digital innovator who’s learnt both the hard and easy ways the values and pitfalls of using technology to engage young people as users and stakeholders. He most recently co-led the Innovation Labs project. Find out more about him here and connect with him here.

Engagement requires blended facilitation: many methods, co-design, and time

Katie Bacon, director of Online Youth Outreach, has been delivering social media training for over four years across the UK, and responded to a request for a contribution to our exploration into how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities. Katie advocates co-designing any processes, and a blend of methods. One size doesn’t fit all.
Each person attending the meeting has been invited to pre-pare a blog or questions to share. I wanted to blog about – Blended facilitation: Participative engagement of target audience (young people, colleagues, stakeholders, or community members) in highly productive conversations, whether face-to-face and remote, by applying the right facilitation technology and tools at the right time.
So in simple words – involve people who you want to talk to in the planning, development and delivery stages. Offer training and TIME to allow people to gain, rehearse and feel confident in co-facilitating. Be creative and realistic about what appeals and engages your audience i.e. music, drama, quiet space to talk, art, blogs, reports. online forums. voting, sharing comments under pictures, capturing film content. Again you need to offer training, guidance in bite size portions to allow people to ‘play’ and then express themselves. Need clear boundaries to keep everyone safe physically and psychologically.
In my view, blended facilitation is a continuous process. It starts at the point of an idea and or conversation taking place during a youth work session, staff meeting, conversation in a coffee room or in a work car park. Capturing the offline dialogue and translating that online (tweet, audio or mobile recording , facebook status update, photo or scribbled notes, sharing a web-link of an article that sparked the idea) to share with other people who may be interested or know someone else or an organisation who may have information, contacts, funding or training opportunities to help the idea flourish and grow.
Being consistent in uploading and sharing content along the journey to the end goal. Supporting people to micro-blog, create a photos storyboard, capture a discussion on camera and/or posting extracts from tweet #tag feeds. Throughout this process ‘reaching out’ to the people who can make change in local communities ie. Parent(s), community members, local MPs, District council members, senior managers of local educational boards, head teachers. Again, you need to share, show and support people how to access, use and be creative with digital tools i.e. parent(s) may not know how to tweet, a MP may have never logged onto a forum and posted a response, a head teacher may not know what a popcast is.
The key element in my view is not to impose new ideas or change but to understand the ‘starting point’ to the situation/challenge for the young person, young people, community members, colleagues, managers, council members, funders etc. Currently we are facing huge challenges that we as a collective need to deconstruct, understand and collaboratively form responses to high unemployment rates, sexual abuse of children and young people (NSPCC), isolation and negative portray of young people by main stream media, escalation of self harm & poor mental health in young people.
Blended facilitation requires me, you, us to ask:

  • What questions are they asking?
  • What is value base/boundaries for each person? Group? Community?
  • What conflict, misunderstanding have or could take place?
  • Are they interested?
  • What does success look like for each person? Group? Community?
  • What elements are capturing their interest?
  • What are their concerns/worst case scenarios going around their head?
  • What training/resources do they need?
  • Who do they trust?
  • How do they want to express their views?

I have been delivering social media training for over 4 years across the UK and typically organisations and practitioners are seeking a ‘one-fit-for-all’ solution to using social media. That is unrealistic and is discriminative to those who need different digital communication models, support or information. As practitioners we need to reflect and critically analyses our interpretation(s) and understanding of young peoples views and aspirations to build inclusive healthier and economically viable society. The challenge is have any of us lived or experienced that society. What is nirvana to a young person?
I am excited about the upcoming meeting and spending time listening and hearing various ideas that will bounce around the room to tackle the complexities that young people across the UK are experiencing.

What engagement may really mean

Jonny Zander is an engagement specialist and one of the founding director of Kaizen Partnership, a training and consultancy company that specialises in the community sector. Here Jonny expands on his contribution to our ideas and messages document, which will frame our meeting next Thursday. Overall process here, exploring how digital technologies can support young people to engage socially and economically with their communities.
I think this enquiry, commissioned by the Nominet Trust is both timely and important, and I very much like the inclusive approach being used by David and Tim to crowdsource thoughts and ideas ahead of the event this week.
Here are a 3 background areas that I think worth considering in the framing of this discussion about engagement. I am really looking forward to the discussion on Thursday and hope that this contribution adds to the thinking and planning process.
What is meant by “engage”?
I think it will be important to define what is meant by “engage” as this will radically determine what support is needed and how digital technologies can facilitate this. To some people, engagement is about sharing info and sourcing views, to others it is about action. The working definition we use in Kaizen is:

“Engagement is the process by which an opportunity is presented so that it reaches and appeals to the targeted people, who make a choice whether to take advantage of it. Needs and barriers are identified and addressed so that they can participate effectively.

I realise this is a bit long, but then again I do think engagement is a complex concept and each element in bold plays an important role. While on the subject of definitions, it would also be helpful to clarify what age bracket is being included in the term young people, and what is meant by community.
What will young people do when they are engaged?
If engagement is a process leading to some kind of action or participation, then I would suggest it could be helpful, for thinking and design, to cluster the different types of action, as different technologies can support different types of activities. In our work on engagement within Kaizen, we cluster into archetypes of participation, and these could be a useful place to look from in this discussion (or not!). We have identified 5 core archetypes as summarised in the table below:

Here are some examples of websites that link to different archetypes:

Recognising diversity and complexity
Young people are not a cohesive group, any more than old people, British people, men/women or any other demographic. There is incredible diversity within the youth population and it would be a mistake to assume that all young people think alike, or can be engaged in similar ways, with similar motivators. Building in processes and platforms that favour and support complexity will help to reach a more diverse range within the community, and I think digital technology has incredible potential to do this.
An example of this is an idea that has interested me for a while which involves the engagement potential for using multiple skins of websites. This would allow for information and opportunities to be presented in ways that appeal and work for different types of people (young and not so young).