Bridging Online and Real-World Engagement

Bridging Online and Real-World Engagement

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Bridging Online and Real-World Engagement

Back when I used to run a mission-driven engagement consulting shop, I developed a framework to help our clients more effectively engage their constituents. Our clients were mostly nonprofit organizations, though I now see that the model could be useful for a much broader range of mission-driven business and social enterprises. 

One of the key goals for this framework was to bridge technology assisted, online communications aimed at increasing reach with the more personal and face-to-face kinds of engagement that most often result in real world impact. 

For this reason, this framework isn’t based on transactional thinking. It comes more out of a community organizing model, where the upper levels are more about developing people and their ownership and leadership of the mission. My work on this model helped me eventually to see the importance of pushing power, pushing value creation and many other critical organizational functions outside the traditional boundaries of the organization. 

This is the first time I’ve shared this work publicly since setting aside that work on engagement consulting several years ago. I’ve intentionally not modified the core ideas from the original model, as I fear that digging back into this again might become a very large project. I share it here, in the hopes that it will be of use to people thinking about engagement and the connection to real-world impact. 

#engagement   #mission   #socialenterprise

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  1. Thank you for sharing, Gideon. I will be sharing this with my non-profit clients and civic-minded colleagues. It’s nice to learn more about what you’ve done in the past and what is important to you. It’s also interesting to think of my involvement with local organizations and my engagement with them. It’s always good to become more conscious of why things work (or don’t work) for me when it comes to marketing and communications with a particular organization or business.

  2. Thanks, Jean Egan. Looking at the mirror image of this by examining how well we’re engaging with other organizations is an interesting exercise. The orgs where that’s easiest are, generally speaking, most successful in my experience. 

  3. Gideon Rosenblatt This is a really helpful way to look at the different levels of engagement and to think about how people move (or can be helped to move) from one level to the next.

  4. Thanks so much, Justin Schwamm, and thanks for sharing it. This came about through lots of interactions w/ mission-driven organizations. This framework has made the rounds within the social change community and especially amongst consultants who serve that community. 

  5. Gideon Rosenblatt I see a lot of parallel between this model and how brands can use G+ communities to develop and grow their followers into true brand supporters.  At each stage the level of trust increases and as a result, so does the level of engagement. 

  6. I could see something like that working, Christina Blount Presnell. It’s particularly interesting to think about this within the context of the web/local biz conversation we were having a while back, at least in terms of the real world engagement aspects. 

    I think the other aspect that’s potentially interesting is what businesses are doing to create moderators in their communities who don’t necessarily work for the organization itself. 

  7. Gideon Rosenblatt That’s so true.  As community members become engaged through regular activities or events, those interactions become a part of their lives, too.  As they begin to enjoy them and look forward to them each week, they begin to “own” them, as in this is “thier” podcast, this is “their” hangout that is a part of their world.  From there, they can begin to lead others to those events by their endoresement and engagement.  That’s when they make really good moderators.    (It sort of reminds me of the leadership development models we used to use in building subordinate teams in the military, but way more fun.)

  8. …when I see a guy who is actively trying to figure out how to better program the worker bees, I lose a little faith in humanity.

  9. Christina Blount Presnell, have you seen some communities that are run by businesses or other types of organizations that seem to be doing a particularly good job of that here on G+? 

  10. David Arnold, I’m not following you. Did you actually even read the article? 

  11. Gideon Rosenblatt That’s how I have chosen moderators for Yarn Mountain’s community.  There must be others, but I don’t know of any specifically.      

  12. This is excellent work Gideon Rosenblatt. For the past year I’ve been trying to build a model of engagement for my association. I have buy in now from all the business units and plan to start posting here about how it works. Explaining the levels of engagement as you have is one step, but plotting out HOW you create reciprocal relationships (true engagement) is another challenge completely.

    You have started to touch on that by illustrating the mindset of the people, but for my org, I’m finding that I need to go a bit farther in mapping out different motivations that create the give and take that is essential to engagement. So, along with offerings that require more or less engagement, we need them to also map to basic human motivations, beyond carrot and stick extrinsic motivators. I’m working on a series of posts about this and would really love your thoughts.

  13. Yes, please ping me when you post these, Christian Caldwell. I’m assuming you’ve read Daniel Pink’s work on this?  

  14. Just a thought for Christian Caldwell. This sounds like where relationships come into play. By creating engaging activities in which different org members can interact with each other on or around a common project, you can enable them to develop relationships with each other within the framework of the organization. Comraderie brings depth to their individual involvement beyond the reach of their original task or purpose.

  15. Gideon Rosenblatt I hadn’t, but then I saw all the discussion about him on your employee engagement post. I’ve got to catch up. From the brief comment I did read, it is right in line with what we are doing to align activities, messaging, features/functionality, etc. to basic motivators. I personally drew a great deal of inspiration from Bart Stewart’s excellent essay on Personality and Play Styles, but now I’m giving up too much about the posts I’m working on. 😉

    Christina Blount Presnell Spot on! In our very large, traditional, science-based organization, creating relationships has sadly fallen away. We are having to talk about how we engage people and to what end before level of engagement can even be achieved. 

    We have talked about a pyramid very similar to Gideon’s, but without the “how” and “to what end” it is considered like a linear pathway and a head count.

  16. Christian Caldwell All work and no play?  I’d love to see what you come up with.  

  17. Precisely. I’d love your thoughts on what we’ve come up with Christina Blount Presnell. I’ll ping you when it’s up.

    I am finding it difficult transitioning the work from very internally focused to writing it for a broader audience. Gotta knock some rust off my writing.

  18. Christian Caldwell Please do ping me, I’d love to read it.  

  19. Christian Caldwell, I think you would really like Pink’s work. It’s an easy read and very useful. There’s also an RSA animated version of his talk on this if you look on YouTube. 

    As to the questions of “how” and “to what end”, one of the things we did in my own organization as part of our own engagement pyramid was couple it with a “theory of change” that really helped us hone in on the why of what we were doing, which was coupled with logic models to help us then map out the how. This was some of the hardest work that I ever did as the head of that organization, but it was very, very rewarding and important. There’s a link to a summary of our theory of change in this pyramid article if you’re interested in seeing an example. 

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