You never know the effect that your content is going to have on others – whether its video, audio, books, or another media. Even something that you think is horrible, might speak to someone and you never know the difference that you can make in their lives.
How can you unleash your content? If you are interested in discovering more you are in the right place. This article reviews how to unleash the collective power of your community and shows how to make the most of a community resource directory using 5 key strategies (and recommendations).
Strategy #1. Make sure the information and resources in your directory are easy to find.
Recommendation: When building a community directory one of the first things to look for is the ability to connect each community member to essential information and specific resources.
A key way to make information easy to find is by using a single landing page or point of entry to your directory community. By using a single point of entry members can access key community information from across the spectrum of providers in one single easy to remember location.
There is great value in using a community directory to map, manage, and mobilize your community resources because it offers a single, dynamic location for the broader community to connect with resources (across the continuum). Your community can capitalize on many different resources (i.e. prevention, treatment, recovery, recreation, youth events, and so much more) and link people who need those resources in a simple and efficient way.
Strategy #2: Provide practical ways for people to find and connect to community-wide resources.
Recommendation: Using keyword and categorical search capability is an effective way to support members and make sure they are able to connect to the right resource – keyword and categorical searches are very useful when community members are using common terms or phrases that may be familiar to them, but not to a formal search engine.
For example, if a community member was looking for a Lego Club for their 6- year-old who needs something to do after school they would be able to navigate to single point of entry and use key words such as “Lego Club,” to find available resources.
Effective community directories will use these key words to showcase any organization, agency, or community group that has a Lego club available or comparable resources for a six-year-old.
Here is a sample of how the local library would benefit from a community directory. Community directories are a great way to share information about programs such as those operated by a public library system.
In this example, the public library system has a Lego club on Tuesday’s in April and May. By creating a showcase in a local directory library would be able to get their information in front of directory users. Each user would be able to access a basic description, important information like times, dates, and relevant age groups.
Strategy #3. Engage Viewers and Increase Their Successful Connection to Resources by Using Multi-Media Channels
Recommendation: To increase the effectiveness of your community directory be sure to include the ability to use video, imagery and other multimedia channels. This is important not only for the individual listings, but also for the landing page where community members begin their search for local resources.
In the library example, the Lego Club listing would be able to integrate images, active web links, and related information about similar programs (i.e. Chess Club for the same age group).
Another example is a local coalition that benefited from multi-media listings that provided viewers with an interactive experience.
A community coalition director was starting a Youth Leadership Initiative at the local school. She was looking for a way to showcase the effort and needed something low cost but effective at engaging the student population.
By creating a listing in the community directory, she was able to create a dynamic and interactive information about the vision and mission of the leadership group. This listing was promoted to local youth leaders. The integration of the new logo into the listing helped her to brand the initiative, photos helped her to convey the opportunities that this group would provide and active links provided youth and families with important information about the work she was doing.
Providing the opportunity for interaction is critical in the success of a community resource directory.
Strategy #4: Keep Information Current and Relevant
Recommendation: Your directory information can stay current if the users are assigned a username and password. The community benefits from the leverage that this provides because it is the people who operate the programs, services, or resources that know their resource the best. By allowing the user to sign into your directory you reduce duplication of effort and reduce operational costs.
It is important that your directory be maintained and only the most current and relevant information be provided. A great way to achieve this is to have directory users be able to update this information quickly and easily.
In our case example, if Lego club changed to Saturday mornings at 10am, the Library representative would simply log in and make the necessary changes. Once the information was saved, the public would have instant, free access to the most current information for Lego Club at the library.
Strategy #5: Got outcomes? Directory Users Should Have Access to Data In Support Their Investment of Time, Talent, and Energy.
Recommendation: Providing your community with a way to see how their listing is being used will increase their interest and support in the community directory.
In the case of the coalition, the Director was able to see how often the information was accessed and understand how the information she included was being used. For the investment of her time, she is now able to reach many, many people and share the great work that is being done in the community.
Resource Directories Benefit the Whole Community.
When was the last time someone offered you the ability to market and message with such a small investment? The last time I checked, I hadn’t heard an offer like this. When you bring community directory to your area, you are offering all community organizations the ability to market and message with the knowledge that the information they provide will build a stronger, healthier, and more resilient community.