This type of influence and participation – via computers, smartphones and other devices in formats such as Facebook groups, e-campaigns, apps, online forums and text messages – can be a very quick, convenient way to reach out to vast numbers of people and can make getting involved or giving feedback easy. Participants can often remain anonymous which can give people a safe space to feedback honestly. This type of activity is often used to test topics and themes to see how they work in practice or whether they need further exploration.
Digital influence and participation is useful for people who find it hard to be in groups with others, or who may not be able to travel. It also provides a platform to create wider circles of support for people who have shared similar experiences.
Things to consider:
- How can you make sure the input is representative and inclusive? Bear in mind that digital engagement could exclude certain cohorts of people, such as those without access to the technology, people with low levels of literacy or language skills and people with visual impairment.
- How will you keep a check on things? You might need a moderator to monitor people’s use of open forums and make sure appropriate privacy settings are in place.