How to effectively conduct community outreach virtually?

Purpose

In a time of social distancing paired with economic instability, community members need to be aware of services and financial assistance programs available in their own community. Not only do they need direct information to get exactly what they need, but they also need to be engaged in the design, implementation, and delivery of the programs meant to serve them. Here are some suggestions for agencies to engage and connect with their community and program population, including how to reach individuals most in need virtually.

Suggestions

  • Know your target audience.

When creating your virtual content, knowing how your content will reach as many target audience individuals is critical to effective community outreach. Spend some time understanding how your different program population segments use technology, in order to cater for them using the appropriate formats and channels. For example, if your target audience is young adults, consider using social media and creating one pagers that are easily digestible and accessible on a mobile phone.

  • Include relevant information.

When creating your content, it is important to consider the information most needed by your community. Not only will this make the experience of the client better, it will help the application or enrollment process go smoothly. For example, to market any program or service you offer, it is crucial to include eligibility criteria, as well as required documents for assistance, with an additional link for further inquiries, which will save time for all parties.

  • Provide a sense of place.

When describing processes that are complex, try to put yourself in the shoes of the target audience, and help walk them through the process step by step, rather than overwhelm them with a lot of information at once. For example, use headers that define the different chronological steps they must go through, so that they know where they are in the process. This will inform audiences, and help limit unexpected processes that deter them from completing enrollment, and utilizing services.

  • Create engaging content.

In the virtual world, it is easy to scroll past content if it does not catch the eye. Create content that is visually appealing and consider interactive content that is engaging and stimulating for audiences. For instance, avoid using big blocks of text and paragraphs, and break up your content with headers, images, links, or other.

Resources

  • The Ultimate Guide is designed for non-profit organizations, however it contains valuable resources that will help any virtual marketing and community outreach efforts. For example, one element it covers is how critical knowing who your target audience is, and how to best reach those audiences virtually.

  • Community Marketing provides insights and strategies around community marketing. Here you will find information on community marketing and how it is done, as well asthe importance of social media and ways to maximize these platforms. Additionally, you will find descriptions of what community virtual marketing may look like in the workforce.

  • Social Media Strategy by Hootsuite defined eight steps to create a social media marketing plan as well as pro tips with additional resources.

Who is doing this?

  • Think Of Us continues to deliver helpful resources and content for youth in care and those who are transitioned out of care. Recently there has been an increase in presence on social media and team members have converted playbooks on the command center to shareable formats that are user friendly on social media platforms.

  • Nebraska Children and Families Foundation: In response to the pandemic, Nebraska Children, in partnership with young people, quickly produced youth friendly content that would be user friendly for social media platforms. These resources could not only be found on their website and social media platforms, but also spread through their social media influencers with lived experiences in Nebraska Child Welfare systems.

  • Florida Youth Shine: In response to the pandemic, Florida Youth Shine responded with a plethora of resources that targeted the youth and young adult population in their community. These resources could be found on their website, through sharable docs, and could be easily conformed to shareable products for social media platforms.