Digital Indigenous Engagement Guide
Updated: Oct 27, 2022
Digital engagement has become increasingly important over the past 5 years. This is a “new” way forward that will help improve your Indigenous engagement results while vastly improving your clients bottom line goals.
Perhaps the biggest advantage that digital (online) engagement has is the ability to offer continuous and accessible communication.
Continuous and accessible communication is one of the pillars to a successful Indigenous engagement strategy.
In addition, the internet is available anytime and anywhere overcoming time limitations, distance (and budget to an extent) that may otherwise deter engagement participation. For example, a community survey can be delivered digitally with next to no travel with very little expense to anyone with an internet connection.
Compare that to hand delivering surveys to each community household which will take a lot of time and resources.
Digital engagement also provides Indigenous Communities and stakeholders with a level platform from which to partake in dialogue. This is particularly useful in allowing for anonymity which may encourage greater stakeholder involvement and perhaps more passionate and honest input.
Digital (online) tools can save time, money and resources if done correctly. Here's an example. Let's say you are responsible for gathering data for an Indigenous educational web portal.
To ensure it's success, you need to travel to 10 remote communities and engage those communities to get their input on the types of tools, resources and content should be in the portal.
The budget for this activity is $35,000 which includes airfare (for you and some participants), food, accommodations and venue rentals.
This is a large undertaking that will take up a substantial amount of resources. The time allotted for this activity is 8 months.
What if, instead of traveling to 10 different remote communities, you build a mini web portal with less than 10 web pages including one video presentation (detailing the project) and a survey for participants to fill out? Perhaps include a voting solution for participants?
The cost for setting this up is less than a $5000 and the time to build such a mini portal is less than 10 days (which is a fraction of the time for offline activities). Related: Community Indigenous Engagement Methods
Using certain incentives, participation can actually potentially increase all the while receiving more honest participation. Using a practical, digital strategy it is possible to get each participants contact information, including their email addresses to set up an email communication protocol.
Once a participant opts in to receive more information you will keep in constant
communication with each participant outlining the details about the project and status updates. All of this is automated.
The total cost for a digital Indigenous engagement project is less than $5,000 including time, set up and technology. Perhaps the biggest advantage is that real time changes can be made (on the fly) to the mini portal including the content (video presentation and survey) which will help improve targeted participation.
The estimated total time to completion is 3 months for this type of digital strategy. A traditional, offline approach will take close to a year.
Let's take a look at some of the pro's and con's of a digital approach to Indigenous Engagement.
• Larger group can be surveyed
• Reduction of Travel costs
• Which can be huge on some projects
• More effort spent on engaging and building relationships
• A lot of “data” can be collected through polling and surveying the groups
• Has the ability to allow more to have their opinion heard
• Not the dominant voice in the room
• Ability to stay in constant contact (via email contact strategy)
• Reduce potential project time to completion
• Hard to get the emotional connection to the community/group
• Everyday life challenges
• Children or pets walking into the frame
• People may not want to be on camera
• Technological challenges
• Internet speeds, enough computers
The Benefit to Remote Indigenous Communities
Provides a platform not only to reach the on reserve community/population but the broader off reserve community (that tends to be overlooked).