One of the most effective ways to define something is to both define what it is and what it is not. This is a common exercise to set expectations, understand the scope, and simply manage the direction you’re heading. Digital Engagement is no different… it’s good to know what it is and what it isn’t. So let’s take some time to map out our two lists.
Drive to Relationship - it should always be moving people from technology to personal relationships (much more on this in other posts).
Uniquely Personal - it should be unique to each person and tailored to who they are as a person.
Grassroots - is should have the ability and grow from the bottom up (or democratized) so the community can own, shape, and grow organically.
Guided Process - the overall experience should be guided and constructed by you to guide people well.
Measurable Activity - it should give you the ability to measure how people are engaging, where things are falling off the map, and unique insights into your audience.
Known & Intentional Next Steps - it should constantly be showing people their best next step and the easy ability to reach that.
Multi-Directional - it should include what you push out to your audience, means to respond back to you, and means to engage one another in the community.
Simply Social Media - it’s not simply leveraging social media platform to be present and reach people.
Simply Pushing Content - it’s not just pushing out content (social media plus other means) to your audience.
One Directional - it’s not just communication on directionally to your audience without abilities to receive feedback and connect with others.
Two Way Communications - it’s not just speaking to you audience and them speaking back with you… it must include them speaking with each other.
Purely Online - it’s not all online and in a digital format.
You’re probably seeing a trend here in what Digital Engagement is and is not. In some ways, Digital Engagement is a tough strategy because ultimately we believe that the goal shouldn’t be digital at all. We believe that life is all about relationships and the digital resources in life should be bettered our relationships.
I heard a story once of a man who had over 700 friends on Facebook. One day he decided to invite all of them to a party and to connect in person. He set up an event and invited everyone… all 700. A few registered to meet up at the park that day, but not as many as he had hoped. When the day came, he sat on a bench waiting for people… not a soul showed up. How do we begin to live in a world where we have “700 friends” yet not a single one of them shows up in person. That’s why a clear definition of Digital Engagement is so important and how you as a leader should be helping people build a nurture true relationships.
Cause Machine Solutions
The entire Cause Machine platform is designed around the principles expressed in this article. The Cause Machine’s goal is to equip community leaders with great tools to connect with their audience and connect their audience with each other. The greater goal for us at Cause Machine is to see your members making amazing personal connections because of the tools of the platform and your great engagement. Schedule a demo today!
Here is a simple truth that’s both powerful and most always forgotten… your members need a path to follow. They are desperate for a path to follow. And your leadership and stewardship demand you create a path to follow. Yes, it’s that important.
Big picture… you’re guiding people from having no idea who you are/what you offer to be deeply invested and an advocate of your vision.
A Member Pathway is simple the journey they will follow as they engage in your community and what you offer them. These are maps with intricate detail and nuanced side paths to make sure you capture and guide people well. Let’s start with a few components of a Member Pathway and then talk about how you build and use this.
Visual - these are visual, not just a list of engagement points, but a visual map that charts the full engagement map from first exposure to your picture of thriving.
Spider Web - this map is going to be messy at first and look like a spider web of paths. That’s good and normal… you’ll refine in time. Embrace that it looks like a spider web of opportunities.
Going Off Path - don’t just map the perfect journey… also capture where people are going to go off the path and leave your desired destination. This is important to help prevent that and have tools there to bring them back on the path.
Not Linear - while we often want to make these paths linear… they are not! It’s good to have a general linear pathway, but be open to how messy and non-linear this might evolve.
Access Anywhere - it’s also easy to want to see people walk a path from start to finish, but you have to take into consideration that people come in at various stages and maturities. Build a path where people can come in at various stages.
Always remember that it’s more important to think in steps for your members over programs and destinations… every engagement should be a next step.
I believe the best way to build a Member Pathway is to get a large sheet of poster board or a large whiteboard and start mapping out all the pathways, nuances, tributaries, off-ramps, etc. Ask others to help you build this for where you are guiding your people.
Once you’ve sketched your Member Pathway, then you’re ready to start putting this to action. Here are a few ways to bring that to life in your organization.
Transfer to Software - now it’s time to move this from a sketch drawing to something a bit more professional. There are various software systems to help with this. I personally love Whimsical as a simple tool to build these types of flow charts.
Refine with Others - take your newly designed pathway and hash it out with others on your team and your constituents to refine the concept and what might be missing.
Evaluate Your Process - take time to look at all of your member engagement processes and pathways to explore how you might refine and align to this newly crafter pathway.
Evaluate Your Technology - review your technology solutions to see how they are helping and automating your Member Pathway. They should be complimenting this and not working against your desired path.
Have fun building your Member Pathway and implementing it. I’ve seen this done so many times and the excitement and clarity it brings has always been amazing. Yes, there are going to be some pieces that are overwhelming about this… that’s normal. Take a bite at a time and enjoy how you are better guiding people to success.
Cause Machine Solutions
The entire Cause Machine platform is designed around the concepts and goals of Member Pathways… working to guide members one step at a time to what’s next. The platform helps you build pathways per membership tier and guide those members to better ways to connect and engage. Guiding people through a path is part of the very framework of the platform and the vision we have for guiding people well. Schedule a demo today!
One of the core tenets I share over and over about digital engagement is the desperate need and drive that all things digital should drive people to something physical.
I believe society has bought the lie… hook, line, and sinker… that social media will help draw us closer together as individuals and create better communities. That very well may have been one of the original intents and it may even be a derivative of what we experience in social media. But we’ve seen far more of an increase in jealousy, comparison, materialism, isolation, false security, and many other attributes that we don’t like about ourselves.
This is why it’s important for anyone who leads a social community or digital engagement to always keep in front of them the deep need for all digital to drive to physical.
I believe that we are all hard-wired for community and relationships with one another. And while technology can make some great connections and provide great experiences, nothing can replace physical interaction and presence with other people. This is most obvious when we are hurting and in need of a friend to process life. No amount of social posts will replace being with someone who loves you and cares for you.
Let’s make this more practical… how do you lead people from the digital space to something more relational and physical?
Virtual Events - guide people to personal connections with other people of similar interests with a nudge to connect in person.
Virtual Events - guide people to joining groups in their area to keep process but also to see they are not alone.
eCourses - encourage people to take courses as a cohort and go through in person with others.
Online Groups - guide people from virtual groups and discussions to in-person events and gatherings.
Blog & Content - encourage practical engagement with your content in a manner that connects people in person.
Membership Platforms - guide people to connect with others who are like-minded to meet in person and build sub-tribes.
Be creative and have fun exploring how you can help guide people from digital to virtual. You have a responsibility to make this part of your ethos.
Okay, so yes, why am I talking so much about this concept in a discussion that’s primarily about digital engagement? I write this because, for any digital engagement strategy to be successful, it must lead to relational connections. And I would argue those relational connections should be physical (face to face). The strongest digital communities and digital strategies keep this tension in place and guide people well in both. May I encourage you to do the same as you build your digital engagement strategy.
Cause Machine Solutions
The Cause Machine platform provides various modules and tools to provide digital engagement touchpoints (memberships, groups, events, and more). The platform stands apart in how it uniquely connects two people in a community based on like-minded interests. These connections help make a large community small and help create great relationship connections. Schedule a demo today!
We have talked about the Digital Engagement ecosystem at various other points. Your digital epicenter and ecosystem are part of the same model. Your ecosystem is a combination of all your digital initiatives. Your epicenter is your leading initiative.
For example, your ecosystem could include social media, website, mobile app, e-courses, webinars, virtual events, metaverse environments, and plenty more. At any given time, one of these should be your “leading horse”.
Alright, so let’s take a step back before identifying a digital epicenter because it’s actually about more than the delivery method… it’s about what’s driving your delivery methods.
Most organizations or individuals have one specific area of key talent or interest. That might be writing, speaking, hosting events, training, etc. That key talent is what should be driving your digital epicenter more than anything. Don’t try to force yourself into a box of delivery and content creation that isn’t you… start with what feels natural. If you are a teacher… teach. If you are a writer… write.
It’s intuitive, but people who are core talented at teaching should be leveraging things like e-courses and blogs. People who are core talented at hosting and pulling knowledge together should be leveraging events and aggregated thought leadership content.
Another way to think about this is to look at your digital engagement ecosystem model and ask yourself… what feeds this machine? Is it a single person’s content? Is it a core event? Is it a regular gathering of people?
As you continue to explore both your digital engagement ecosystem and epicenter, sketch out your model and keep refining this.
Cause Machine Solutions
The Cause Machine platform provides a backbone for your epicenter and allows you to configure the platform to focus on your strengths. The platform allows you to engage in a few or multiple engagement points - giving you flexibility and the opportunity to explore new delivery methods. Cause Machine is designed to work with your flow and focus. Schedule a demo today!
I’m not sure if you’re a church-goer or not, but that doesn’t matter. I think all of us can picture a church with a choir singing and those people in the choir wearing choir robes. And I think most of us think “wow, choir robes are so outdated”. But here’s the point… at some point choir robes were a great idea, new, innovative, and people got excited about them. I think if we unpack that story more we would go back in time to find there was some good reason for churches introducing choir robes and whatever that reason might have been… I’d put good money we probably still agree with the heart behind it… just not how it’s currently expressed.
That’s the difference between the Principle - Method concept and the desperate need for leaders to help guide us to the principle over the method. Let me try and better define this.
Principle - the reason, purpose, and vision for what could be.
Method - the tangible, strategy, and an executable way to bring a principle to life.
And here’s the key thing to know about the Principle - Method concept… principles never change while methods constantly change. My challenge to you is to fall in love with the principles of what you more than your methods. You will become a dinosaur if you fall in love with your methods. They grow old and extinct.
Think about the principle of needing to move/travel and all the methods - horse and buggy, train, car, plane, etc.
Think about the history of war - bow and arrow, gun, planes, drones, etc.
Think about communicating with each other - the pony express, telegrams, rotary dial phones, smartphones, etc.
Alright, why am I spending so much time making this point? Methods are like gravity… they have this vortex-like a black hole. Once methods are launched, we want to fight to keep them alive. There’s often identity found in a method. Creating new methods is difficult. I’ll say it like this… methods are simpler while leading to principle takes a lot of work. That’s why I challenge leaders to drive back to the principles that drive their methods. Constantly evaluate if your methods are the best methods to activate your principles.
Great leaders help guide their teams to re-invent and fall in love with the principles that drive things. May I encourage you to do the same!
Cause Machine Solutions
The Cause Machine platform provides an environment to explore various methods of engagement with your constituents. It’s your role to refine your principles for engagement. Once you have, Cause Machine offers the means to deliver on the methods you narrow down engagement. Schedule a demo today!
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