This is a guest post by Jordan Menzel, COO of CrowdHall. This tool is awesomely cool – check it out.
When you have some exciting news, you tweet it. When you want to mobilize your base for a specific action, you create a page for it. Have a policy change to communicate to your audience? Blog it.
Whether you are an organization with thousands of donors, a company with countless consumers and hundreds of employees, or perhaps a politician with a public full of constituents, there are an increasing number of exciting tools to communicate your message to your target audience. But what does your audience do when they want to reach you with a question, idea, concern, or suggestion? Do you have the tools to organize, prioritize, and efficiently respond to your audience in a way that makes them all feel heard?
If you don’t know the answer and are like organizations all across the web who have tried to dig through hundreds of posts or tweets, you are part of a growing community that is beginning to understand the need to be efficiently inclusive and responsive to the audiences cultivated. And like that community, you may already realize that you will miss opportunities if you don’t find the answer. Whether it’s a disengaged donor, an unheard employee, a frustrated fan, or an unmotivated consumer, it will cost you time, money, and reputation if you fail to listen to your stakeholders.
At CrowdHall, we are excited about the strategies that companies and organizations are employing to engage audiences in a bottom-up fashion. Whether it’s Starbucks using customers to improve drink options, Pepsi letting the democratic process define entirely new products, or President Obama’s recent foray into a Reddit AMA the trend of tapping into your audience for guidance is already upon us. But not every person or organization is a large corporation with the budget to boot. So building a custom experience to learn from an audience or host a Q&A is simply not an option. That’s why we are passionate about what we do.
CrowdHall lets anyone with an audience easily set-up and host an online, crowd-moderated town hall. You can create a free, public town hall, share it with your audience on Facebook, Twitter, or via email, and let your audience begin to ask questions or voice ideas while voting on the best content. You are left with a crowd-sourced and prioritized list of what is on their minds and can now pick the top issues and provide a text, link, or video response whenever you want, once a day, once a week, or perhaps during a real-time event.
Want to let your CEO have a Q&A with employees or stakeholders? Set up and host a private town hall in minutes. Want to let your donors weigh in on a new initiative and provide feedback? Open a public town hall for that purpose, set the agenda, and let the donors dictate the results. Want to host a Q&A with one of your brand or organizational ambassadors? Allow your stakeholders access by letting them vote on the most important questions and get notified when a response is given.
Have the personal impact that only a town hall can provide, but do it in an innovative and social way so that all the content can be categorized, searched for, and shared. This lets you reach an audience in a way they are comfortable with at a time that is convenient by sharing results, answers, top ideas on Facebook or Twitter. You can even embed the entire experience on an existing website.
Whether its an social town hall experience, a custom app like Pepsi’s, or more actively attempting to leverage Facebook and Twitter to listen to your audience, if you aren’t trying to hear from your people, you are missing the next chapter in online social engagement. But don’t worry, this chapter is just now being written. As the New Year kicks off, start the year strong by discovering ways to open up to your audience and develop the tools to do so in a way that is both engaging, innovative, and manageable. If you don’t, your competition will, and people will notice.
Jordan Menzel is the COO and Co-Founder of CrowdHall. The platform has hosted the town halls of people and organizations that span government, entertainment, and organizations. Previous town hall hosts include USAID, Columbia University, SparkPeople.com, Self Magazine, Teach for America etc…. Check out www.crowdhall.com/opengov to learn more about upcoming initiatives in the public space.