An engaging organization empathizes.
When was the last time you asked your audience:
- “What do you expect of us?”
- “What is your experience with us like?”
- “Why do you support our cause?”
Being engaging isn’t always about sharing the great things you’re doing.
Sometimes you need to ask your audience what they think in to find the points of interest where they want to have a conversation with your organization.
Think about every possible touch point between your organization and its audience. If everything your organization says and does it part of your story and impacts audience perception (i.e., your brand — what others think about your organization), what could you do to improve each point of interaction?
A Different Perspective on Audience Engagement
I spent a couple of minutes on an organization’s website recently, trying to find the times for their weekly gatherings. Their home page featured a large button reading, “I’m New Here,” and as a first-time visitor, naturally I clicked it.
The only problem is that I didn’t find what I was looking for. I found a lot of information about what to expect on my first visit, how long the meeting would be, what a great experience it would be, and more.
The only thing the page didn’t tell me what time I should be there to share this experience.
Eventually, I found what I was looking for, quietly hiding under a subhead on the home page, and again at the very bottom.
It wasn’t a well-designed first visitor experience. When I shared my experience with the organization, they welcomed the feedback and made changes to ensure other visitors had a better experience than I did.
Rather than waiting for a guest to bring up a design oversight, ask your audience for feedback, and with that information ask your staff as well how they think your organization could do a better job of communicating with your audience.
One way to gain insight is to conduct a survey to ask your stakeholders or customers what they think you’re doing well, and what you could do better.
Better yet, have a conversation with a customer or donor, and learn their perspective on your organization: who you are, what you do, why they think your organization matters, and how you’ve helped them.
Chances are what motivates them also motivates others, and their perspective will help you created a design narrative reach more people with touchpoints that foster affinity and loyalty.
Listen First, Act and Respond Second
Listening carefully to stakeholders enables you to influence the way individuals perceive your cause or company, and how they interact with it.
Engagement is a conversation that gives your audience the reasons to believe in your cause or company. When you empathize with the experience of those you serve, your products and programs are more meaningful to those for whom it matters most.
Be Engaging. Listen as often as you speak, to hear what the community is saying.