March 6, 2018, by Erik Larson

How Engaged Is Your Community?

In a recent conversation with a bright economic development professional, I was reminded of something that is often overlooked in data reporting – community engagement. Updates on how your local economy is growing and evolving are a critical component to engaging residents.

In many respects lack of community engagement represents a gap in what is supposed to be a closed-loop system. Without input from residents the best of plans can easily fall short.

This person pointed out some essentials for engaging community members with data, which are outlined below.

3 Musts For Community Engagement

#1 Consumable Information

Buried in the depths of market analysis reports (typically >20 pages in length) are really interesting and important facts about your community's progress. But what percent of your audience reads the report to find out? Most likely it is <5%.

To connect with your community, you need to present data in a consumable format, preferrably visual, with key takeaways clearly identified. Short of this your audience will remain uninformed, making true engagement an uphill battle.

#2 Current (Not Stale) Information

In the age of on-demand services and real-time information, the expectation bar is rising. The subset of residents that actually come to your website looking for current information expect it to be up to date. When they see figures that lag even one year, their trust in the data quickly fades.

This presents a real challenge: how to keep information current when you are understaffed, and your consultant (if you have one) is engaged to update the reports every ~2 years or so?

#3 Mobile Friendly

Recent studies show that 67% of the population consumes some or all of their news on mobile devices (I am included in that figure). Long-form reports do not work on mobile devices. To get through on mobile, each report element needs to render nicely on a 4" screen and be navigable with a thumb.

This is a tough one. It requires expert web development to implement, adding even more time and cost to your data reporting.

Don't be discouraged. Done correctly, information to engage your community can be a huge boost to your program! That's why we've created the "easy button" for creating eye-catching data stories here at eImpact.

Here is a great example

Tell Us What You Think!

We would love to hear about your goals and share some interesting examples of with you.