Online community engagement – from tools to strategy

This is an interesting talk by Andy Williamson he gave in 2013 called From tools to strategy: putting citizens at the centre of our democracy. In it he discusses ways in which social media can be part of a community engagement strategy.

He suggests three principle:

  1. You don’t own the conversation (the conversation is owned by the people)
  2. No medium is an island (so you shouldn’t think of facebook or twitter as stand alone entities)
  3. The value is in the network (by tapping into the networks of social media users your reach can be greatly expanded).

In it he emphasises the importance of building intimacy, connections and partnerships. He suggests a number of ways to do this including:

  1. Go where the people are
  2. Listen. A lot
  3. Be authentic
  4. Share everything
  5. Join in
  6. Close the loop
  7. Trust your staff
  8. Own your mistakes.

This suggests a very collaborative approach. He concludes with some suggestions ways of making digital community engagement part of “business as usual”:

  1. Support effective use
  2. Develop clear policies, apply light rules
  3. Provide good but just-in-time training
  4. Trust people
  5. Mistakes are inevitable and rarely fatal
  6. Encourage people to
  7. Be your best advocates
  8. Connect with the brand
  9. Re-share content
  10. Innovate from every side

The talk is from the European Conference on Public Communication at the European Parliament and the Committee for the Regions in Brussels. The video of the speech and the slides are available from I combined the audio and slides so it was easier to follow.

If you liked this post you might want to subscribe to the blog (top right-hand corner of the blog),  and you might like to look at:

  1. What is community engagement?
  2. Ethics and community engagement
  3. 10 things I’ve learnt about strengths-based community engagement
  4. What is asset-based community-driven development (ABCD)?

About Graeme Stuart

Lecturer (Family Action Centre, Newcastle Uni), blogger (Sustaining Community), Alternatives to Violence Project facilitator, environmentalist, father. Passionate about families, community development, peace, sustainability.
This entry was posted in Working with communities and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Online community engagement – from tools to strategy

  1. Christina Macaulay says:

    Hi Graeme
    I am Community Action Leader for the Better Futures Local Solutions initiative in Kwinana, WA. We have been funded by Australian Govt Dept of Human Services, and are a place based initiative led by a Local Advisory Group. Our vision is ‘Everyone in Kwinana who wants a job can get one’, and our role is to support residents on their pathway to employment through services that support them to address barriers-low school completion, early parenting and intergenerational unemployment.
    I was born and raised in Newcastle and will be back there for a couple of weeks from 19 May. I’d be very interested to hear more about Transition Newcastle, and the work you are doing through the Family Action Centre.


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