What should be in your community engagement toolbox?
LAST UPDATED: June 2022
There are so many sites and tools out there – it can seem overwhelming! It can be hard to choose the best ones to help with your engagement planning, activities and evaluation. Here we’ve compiled 20 of the top tools you should have in your community engagement toolbox.
To find out more about community engagement, read our ultimate guide to community engagement here.
#1 Online Engagement Platform
Online community and stakeholder engagement software is your primary tool in your toolkit.
Versatile, customisable and available 24/7 – this tool provides a multitude of ways your community can engage such as surveys, interactive maps and ideas walls. With 28 different engagement tools plus communication and reporting functions – this software becomes your new home for engagement. Affordable and intuitive, you can easily customise your platform to your organisation and specific projects.
Add all your offline engagement activities too. Engagement Hub is the only platform to include a built-in stakeholder relationship management tool allowing you to record every interaction with your individual stakeholders whether online or offline and report on them instantly.
Our clients benefit from ongoing support, continual developments and our added expertise in stakeholder engagement.
Contact us for a detailed proposal, a high-level competitor analysis and/or book a demo to organize an online screen share and discussion of your objectives, or to explore the features in detail on our Engagement Hub demonstration site.
#2 Tapping into your existing communication channels
Yes, I hear you – a no brainer! These are the standard tools in your community engagement toolbox and some of the most traditional ones still work well.
- eNewsletters – use this to send out fortnightly communications/updates – include user feedback and create call to actions
- Newspaper advertisement or advertorial (eg: for local government, Mayoral columns)
- Social Media
- Messages on Hold
- Educating Customer Service staff to ‘sell’ your consultation
- Events – community days and festivals
- Physical advertising space you own to enable billboard and/or signage advertising or a pop-up banner in reception or at events
#3 Project Planning Software
Cost:$USD 45 to 89 per month
An awesome tool for team collaboration, project management and on-point team accountability. Used by over 85,000 teams and businesses worldwide to enhance productivity and audit trails.
#4 Internal Workflow Management
Cost: Free to $USD 17.50 per month
This is a great collaboration and workflow management tool if your organisation does not already have one. We use this for managing communications and engagement scheduling, workflows and approvals.
#5 Content Reviewing
Cost: $19.99 USD
Great for reviewing your grammar and messaging complexity. Hemingway helps you write with power and clarity by highlighting adverbs, passive voice, and dull, complicated words. Grammarly is also great in this area, particularly for spelling and grammar and their desktop plugin is very helpful, however for more in-depth support on your writing Hemingway App is the way to go.
#6 Portable Kiosks / iPad Displays / Pop Up Tents / Inflatable Spaces
These items are great for taking to events, shopping centres, libraries and to areas where there may be disadvantaged and/or vulnerable stakeholders.
#7 Hard copy newsletters
On any local government engagement project we always keep community members informed with a bi-monthly hard copy trifold brochure distributed to all properties within a 500m radius of the subject site, in addition to high-use community facilities and via local businesses.
In the ‘digital first’ world, something on paper in people’s hands can be very powerful so don’t forget your traditional engagement tools as well.
#8 Graphic Design and Infographics
Cost: Free to $46 per month
Anyone can be a graphic designer with this online tool – also create great looking infographics and use their pre-built templates to get your designs started. Other good tools are http://piktochart.com/ and http://visual.ly/
#9 Live Online Interactive Meetings, Forums and Workshops
Cost: Plans start at $0
We have reviewed and trialled 15 online meeting solutions. Most are prohibitive as require software downloads and/or have closed ports. These are the two we think are best of class.
#10 Video Creation and Editing
Cost: Plans start at $0 – $59 per month
Quickly create amazing videos with a variety of file types.
#11 Online Text to speech
Cost: Free to $USD 39 per month
Engagement Hub is built to meet WCAG 2.0, however, you can enhance the accessibility by embedding a text to script.
#12 Mind Mapping
Cost: Plans start at $0 to $18.99 per month
This platform is very affordable and enables collaborate mapping for projects. Use this mind map editor for brainstorming, note-taking, project planning and tons of other creative tasks
Cost: from $299 – $999 per year
Create animated videos to support your messaging.
#14 Dotocracy and Magic Whiteboard
Cost: $AUD 75 for the Mega Whiteboard – and it is reusable
This is an activity we use in community workshops. Stick the Magic Whiteboard on the walls with broad themes and ask participants to add their ideas. We then give each participant one red sticker and enough green stickers for each Magic Whiteboard. The red sticker is for the one idea they believe is the key priority and the green stickers are for the key priority under each theme. You can purchase just the roll or packs including markers and wipes.
Cost: Plans start at $0 up to $79.15 per month paid annually
Genial.ly helps you design and share interactive media such as graphics, quizzes, videos and infographics. For example, here is a map we created for one of our client’s engagement hub homepage – National Parks and Wildlife Service, South Australia.
#16 Online Publishing
Issuu cost: Free to $USD 269 per month
Flipsnack costs from $14-79 per month
All these software options are affordable and fabulous ways to present documents and magazines. We use Flipsnack to present our online brochure which potential clients can then download, view in full screen or click interactive links for more information.
#17 Social Media
Social Media Scheduling
Cost: Free to $USD 39 – 169 per month
Makes scheduling posts across the most popular social networks a breeze.
Social Media Advertising
Promoting and advertising your consultations via social media is effective, affordable and enables you to specifically reach your target stakeholders. Expect to pay from $AUD 5 per day per platform. Facebook is the traditional place when we think of social media advertising but you can now advertise on Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Twitter so review where your audience is mainly hanging out before selecting which platform.
#18 Technical Drawing Software
Cost: AutoCad costs from $350 per month or $2,805 annually
For technical projects, it’s important to show exact and realistic drawings. Autodesk is the original creator of AutoCad which has become the world’s leading software.
#19 Architectural Visualisation Tool
Cost: License cost $643.50
Twinmotion is a real-time 3D architectural visualization tool, easily produce high-quality images, panoramas, and standard or 360° VR videos in seconds! Useful for architecture, construction, urban planning, and landscaping projects – it can bring to life 2D drawings and help your community understand the end result of your project. Here’s a great video where you can see this in action.
#20 Interactive Presentation Software
Cost: Plans start at $0 to $24.99 per month
Mentimeter allows you to engage directly with your audience and get real-time feedback on what you’re talking about. Users simply type in a code on their smartphone and they can then vote on a poll or submit answers which are displayed directly for the presenter.
There are so many things you could include in your community engagement toolbox – it can be hard to choose!
See how an online engagement platform can transform your engagement activities and reduce the administrative burden on your team. View our demo site or book a free 30-minute online screen share with one of our engagement specialists to see just how powerful and feature-rich Engagement Hub software is.
Make sure you keep up to date on all the various tools as more are released all the time. Pricing is correct as of 21 September 2020.