The Top 5 Ways to Keep Your Community Engaged During the Pandemic
By: Katherine Warren
You probably relied a lot before on in-person events, on working with different community groups, on flyers, workbooks, handouts, to help spread your important messages and work. We can’t do that now, or we can’t do it as much as we could, and we still have a lot of great grant funding that we need to use to the best of our ability. So, what are some ways to do that? Well, I’m going to share with you five today, and we’re going to start with the no-brainer area, which is online.
We are all online, so much more now than we ever imagined. We were online a lot before, and that has grown tenfold during this time when we’re spending more time at home, finding more things to do online, digitally, spending a lot of time in meetings online. So, how do you reach folks who are online and how does that create awareness and engagement? And the first tip I have for you are digital ads. So, digital ads are those advertisements that you would see pop up on websites, if you’re looking at the weather, if you’re shopping for shoes, but those ads also show up on your phone on mobile apps. So, if you’re playing solitaire or you’re using your flashlight, those ads can pop up there.
And the great thing about digital ads is they are for our clients within this community wellness area, they drive more traffic to a website than most any other marketing tactic that we use to create that engagement and awareness. So, you get lots of people to your website, where I’m sure you have a page full of information or additional resources for people to find what they need quickly. Getting the help that they need on your website we’ve got to get them there first, and that’s what the digital ads are for. The great thing about digital ads is you can make them very targeted based on your grant funding. So, what ages do you need to reach? Which counties do you need to reach? What ethnicities, genders, areas of interest, income? We can target those people through the use of digital ads.
The other nice thing about digital ads is you can use video. So, I bet a lot of you have gone to video to educate people. Whether that’s a webinar or just a short little testimonial video or whatever it may be, you can use a piece of that video, a short piece of that video for your digital ad, again, with a great call to action to your website, where people can find what they need to get the help that they need.
So, what’s next? Search engine marketing, so what does that mean? Well, we all know in today’s climate, when people are in their greatest time of need, they’re likely going to go on the internet and search for help. If it’s late at night, if they have no other hope, that Google search becomes a key step in them trying to find the information or the help that they need, and we can be there to educate them. Search engine marketing allows you to purchase search terms that people might be using, and again, you can target who finds you through these search terms. So, what counties of your state are you wanting to service? What types of people, maybe it’s parents, maybe it’s grandparents, maybe it’s youth? You can put that information into Google and say, “Okay, if someone is searching for this term, have our website show up.” And of course, you have to pay to do this. But that way, let’s say someone is looking for help with binge drinking, and that is a service that you provide resources for. You can buy the search term, binge drinking, and then when people are in need, they search for that information and your website comes up as a resource.
Next, social media. We’re all on social media, as a fact, we’re on it right now for this live. So, this is a great place to be, to not only educate and create awareness for your community, but also to try to create more of that community that you might be lacking with less in-person connection. Through social media, you can boost social media posts. You can create social media ads that allow your information to get to a lot more people. If you have a website that you want to promote, you can post about it on social media and you can pay to promote that post. And that gets it to a lot more people, again, in a very targeted way. So, we can look at what ages we want to target, what locations, again, all those targets we discussed already, you can have on social media as well.
But along with that, social media is a great place to create connection that you might be lacking. So, we’re doing it right now with this live. You could do live on your Facebook page where you’re engaging one-on-one with your community. You can also consider groups on social media, so Facebook groups, where you can start to have people hold a conversation with one another, like they might be lacking a bit without that in-person connection. So, let’s say you provide help or resources for parents, you could create a parenting Facebook group that allows people to engage in conversation and have discussions about what’s worked for them, what hasn’t, in a very community-focused way, in a very social way. So, online stuff’s the easy part. We all know that people are online.
What else can you do to create that education and awareness? Two other ways, because we’ve already done our top three, so now we’re on topic four. Number four that I would suggest is streaming audio ads. So, a lot of you perhaps have a PSA or a radio advertisement that you’ve been running, you might want to consider running that also on streaming audio services. That’s your Spotify’s, your Pandora’s, your favorite podcasts that people are listening to. Again, these services have blown up during the pandemic, people are on them like crazy. So, that is a great place to share your message, again, with that perfect call to action at the end, to drive them to your website for more resources and more information.
And then finally, consider also streaming video, streaming visual places. So again, if you have a video that you’re using to educate, make a smaller version of that, get it on Hulu, get it on any on-demand services that have advertising. Use it as pre-roll on YouTube videos, where people see your video before they watch the YouTube video they want to watch on helping their kids or fixing their car, whatever it may be. So, that’s another great place to interact with your community, where they already are.
We are already there, so why not share your very important messages in a very targeted way where your audience is at and craving that community that we’re all lacking, and using the very best use of those grant dollars, because you are targeting your approach to those who need you the most. So, that’s it. Today, we’ve learned the top five ways to engage your community during the pandemic online, through digital ads, search engine marketing, social media, and offline, through streaming audio services and streaming video services.