People all around the world use social media platforms to connect with others, stay up to date on news, watch entertaining content, and more. There are several ways organizations that have a goal of tackling tough issues, such as violence, can use virtual engagement to create a better response for victims/survivors, their communities, and their teams.
Virtual engagement can be helpful in some of the following ways:
Internally (to the organization/agency):
Facilitate open communication to collaborate more effectively and build cohesion
Disseminate resources, news, and events
Schedule and host meetings
Create accessibility for those disadvantaged using traditional methods
Externally (outside the organization/agency):
Reach groups that are missed by traditional engagement methods
Engage with community members to assist them with accessing services, create awareness, circulate education/resources, garner community support, and share space together
Engage with partners, discover new like-minded partners, share resources and knowledge, and identify funding announcements
Virtual engagement is also not an exclusive method as it can be used as a supplement to traditional engagement methods, such as in-person communication. For example, someone could use both social media and print media recruitment strategies to gather people for an in-person town hall meeting.
While this all sounds great on the surface, how does one conduct virtual engagement? To understand this, it is important to figure out the following information when deciding to engage online:
1. Identify the purpose and intentions for engaging virtually
2. Select virtual engagement methods and platforms
3. Outline goals and values
4. Organize current resources and leadership
Here is an example of what this might look like for a violence prevention team internally:
Purpose and Intention: A prevention coordinator wants to evaluate the effectiveness of its prevention programming during the COVID-19 pandemic. They would like to talk to their partners and previously engaged survivors
Methods and Platforms:
1. Online survey to gather input from partners and survivor leaders
2. Email blasts to notify program partners of the survey, disseminate the survey link, and request for them to share the link with their clients
3. Social media post for partner organizations to post on their social media accounts to recruit participation from survivor leaders who engaged with a prevention program during the COVID-19 pandemic
Goals and Values: The goal is to receive 100 responses - at least 25% from survivors. We value the voices of survivors, inclusivity, to do no harm, and respect for all experiences.
Resources and Leadership: The coordinator creates a small workgroup within the organization to spend 20 hours on creating virtual engagement materials and planning how to share the materials. Additionally, we have allocated a budget to compensate partner organizations to create a paid advertisement for the social media post. This will help us reach more people.
Virtual engagement hosts ample opportunities. The next post will discuss different platforms and their culture of use. Share in the comments what you have done with virtual engagement if you have any questions, or share innovative ideas!