How to keep up your PACE with online engagement

publication date: Oct 27, 2014
 | 
author/source: Simren Deogun

There is a continuously evolving conversation about engagement online. Are we doing enough of it? How can we do it more often? Better? Across multiple channels?Simren Deogun photo

I have a love-hate relationship with the term “engagement.” It’s often used in a nebulous context. And I believe it’s one of those buzzwords that’s thrown into conversations and presentations simply for effect. We should define engagement not just in terms of likes or sign-ups or hand-raisers but as real, grounded, sustained interaction that leads to a positive action. We should demand more of engagement and how we talk about it.

From connection to donation

As fundraisers and/or marketers for charities, you’re not just looking for connections; your endgame is the donation.

So what’s your next big idea to engage donors? Maybe a survey or Twitter chat or triggered email campaign? When thinking about what tactics you can use as part of an engagement strategy to drive deeper connections that result in desired actions, you should keep in mind these four pillars:

  1. Presence – Does your organization have a pre-existing ecosystem online (i.e. collection of identities belonging to your organization that make up your online presence) that can support new engagement initiatives? You’ll need a website, social identity and direct email communications for a good start.
  2. Access – You need to be where your constituents are. Selecting the right technological platform to ensure easy, low-cost access is critical. It’s important for the end user and for you as you look for innovative ways to connect.
  3. Content – What underlying message do you wish to communicate now and into the future? For engagement to be authentic, the content must ring true with the heart of your cause and why your organization exists.
  4. Expectation – What do you hope the user will gain from this experience? And what does your organization seek to gain?

Or PACE for short!

Why gamification fits the bill

For an example of this, look no further than gamification. Gamification, as defined by Wikipedia, is the “use of game thinking and game mechanics in non-game contexts.” In a charitable context, it’s essentially gaming with a conscience. It’s a great idea – and one that’s been hailed as the “next big thing” for almost 5 years. I’ve collected a few examples that showcase what charities are doing with it and how the application of this technique can lead to the kind of interaction that evolves into positive action.

iHobo – Depaul UK

A very novel idea from four years ago that literally placed the experience of being homeless in your hands via the smartphone. The app, no longer available, was free at the time and was employed as a tactic to raise awareness for Depaul UK. Read more about the app: http://thenextweb.com/apps/2010/05/10/ihobo-app-puts-a-homeless-man-in-your-pocket/

Hunger Crunch – Rice Bowls

A video game designed to make fighting hunger fun while also raising money through direct asks and in-app purchases that function as donations to support Rice Bowls. You can download the app or play online. Learn more and give the game a try here: http://www.hungercrunch.com/#play-game

It’s my life – Canadian Cancer Society

An interactive, game-like experience designed to make the user more aware about their lifestyle while learning how their choices and surroundings affect their likelihood of getting cancer.

Try for yourself here: http://itsmylife.cancer.ca/index-en.html#!page=0

How do these “games” fare when it comes to PACE? And could you see your organization applying these ideas to your cause?

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gamification

Simren Deogun is a marketing professional whose depth of experience comes from working both client- and agency-side planning, implementing and overseeing the execution of marketing initiatives. From email marketing and website design to social media and advertising campaigns, Simren provides expert guidance from concept to implementation. For more information, email her, follow her @SimrenDeogun, or www.stephenthomas.ca



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