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Part II: Use of Virtual Engagement

Guest Blog by Emily Singerhouse

People all around the world use social media platforms to connect with others, stay up to date on news, watch entertaining content, and more. There are a number of ways SARTs and other grantees can use virtual engagement to create a better response for victims/survivors, their communities, and the internal cohort.  Virtual engagement can be helpful in some of the following ways:

  • Internally:
    • Facilitate open communication to collaborate more effectively and build cohesion
    • Disseminate resources, news, and events
    • Schedule and host meetings
    • Create accessibility for those disadvantaged using traditional methods
  • Externally:
    • Reach groups that are missed by traditional engagement methods
    • Engage with community members to assist them with accessing services, create awareness, circulate education/resources, garner community support, and share space together
    • Engage with partners, discover new like-minded partners, share resources and knowledge, and identify funding opportunities

Virtual engagement is also not an exclusive method as it can be used as a supplement to traditional engagement methods, such as in-person communication.  For example, someone could use social media and print media recruitment tactics to gather people for an in-person town hall meeting.

While this all sounds great on the surface, how does one conduct virtual engagement? To understand this, it is important to figure out the following information when deciding to engage online:

  1. Identify the purpose and intentions for engaging virtually
  2. Select virtual engagement methods and platforms
  3. Outline goals and values
  4. Organize current resources and leadership

Here is an example of what this might look like for a SART team internally:

Purpose and Intention: A rural SART wants to evaluate the effectiveness of its multidisciplinary coordinated response to sexual assault during the COVID-19 pandemic. They would like to talk to their partners and previously engaged survivors

Methods and Platforms:

  1. Online survey to gather input from partners and survivor leaders
  2. Email blasts to notifying partners of the survey, to disseminate the survey link, and request for them to share the link with their clients
  3. Social media post for partner organizations to post on their social media accounts to recruit participation from survivor leaders who engaged with a SART during the COVID-19 pandemic by following the link to the survey

Goals and Values: The goal is to receive 100 responses at least 25% from survivors. They value the voices of survivors, inclusivity, to do no harm, and respect for all experiences.

Resources and Leadership: This SART creates a small workgroup within the large team to spend 20 hours on creating the virtual engagement materials and planning how to share the materials. Additionally, they have allocated a budget to compensate their partner organizations to create a paid advertisement for the social media post. This will help them reach more people.

Virtual engagement hosts ample opportunities. The next post will discuss platforms and the culture of use. Share in the comments what your team has done, if you have any questions, to share ideas, and more!