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How to achieve a successful and sustainable community engagement with digital tools

digital stakeholder management

Community engagement has become a fundamental pillar for organizations seeking to maximize their economic benefits and build a solid and sustainable reputation in society. 

At the same time, it is a strategy that seeks to generate a shared value between companies and the communities where they operate based on dialogue, collaboration, trust, and transparency.

However, this process is not free of challenges and problems that demand a comprehensive and centralized management of all relevant and priority issues to adequately address the relationship with stakeholders, especially in a context of social, environmental, and political change. 

In the current scenario, projects that do not involve the communities in their area of influence are highly likely to encounter difficulties in developing their activities.

In general, companies face several obstacles that may hinder the effective implementation of their community engagement plans:

1. Divergence of interests

While companies may prioritize economic growth and profitability, communities often seek to preserve their cultural identity, protect the environment, and ensure the well-being of their inhabitants. Balancing these sometimes conflicting interests can be a real challenge.

2. Lack of transparency and trust

Perceptions of opacity in business operations can generate community resistance and skepticism, making building solid and lasting relationships difficult.

3. Environmental and social impact

Large companies, especially in sectors such as mining or industry, often face criticism related to their environmental and social impact. Sustainable resource management, mitigation of adverse effects, and promotion of responsible practices are essential elements for the success of any community engagement strategy.

4. Changes in public perception

Public perception of a company can change rapidly due to unforeseen events or crises. Effective communication management during difficult times is crucial to avoid reputational damage and maintain a positive relationship with the community.

5. Legal and regulatory context

Large companies often operate in complex legal and regulatory environments. Regulatory demands require a deep and comprehensive understanding, which can present challenges in implementing engagement strategies.

Ongoing collaboration, transparency, and a genuine commitment to community well-being are crucial to overcoming these obstacles and building mutually beneficial relationships. 

Companies that manage to navigate these challenges will reap economic benefits and be recognized as responsible and committed players in building a sustainable future. 

Similarly, facing these challenges is a complex task that demands constant attention; therefore, it is necessary to incorporate tools to simplify the identification, communication, and relationship with all company stakeholders.

Tools to optimize community relations

Companies are currently adopting innovative technological solutions to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of their community relations strategies. 

This approach facilitates the design and management of specific engagement plans for each community and generates a significant gain in reputation and sustainability. 

Through digital tools, companies can monitor changes in their stakeholders' perceptions and identify and classify them through a comprehensive stakeholder matrix that facilitates the collection, analysis, and monitoring of information for each engagement plan. They can also assign a person responsible for each commitment or compliance management.

Likewise, these tools are the most appropriate for capturing all interactions linked to social commitments. For example, in addition to monitoring the delivery of benefits or community contributions, it is possible to know the details of each stakeholder's benefit and control the budget of each contribution and key actions to organize the various initiatives that are part of the relationship strategy.

Other benefits of technological solutions for relationship management

  • Improved communication and collaboration: Digital tools allow companies to communicate more effectively, facilitating cooperation between the different departments and teams involved in community relations.
  • They have mobile applications, allowing them to keep up to date in communications and record and manage socio-environmental responsibilities from any field in real time.
  • Improved transparency and accountability by supporting companies in collecting and analyzing data on their activities related to their communities, allowing them to identify their needs and priorities.
  • Performance measurement and evaluation: the implementation of specific key performance indicators (KPIs) for community engagement allows the assessment of its impact to make continuous adjustments. 
    Measuring the return on social investment and community perception are essential elements for demonstrating the value of initiatives and improving their effectiveness over time.
  • Identification and monitoring of incidents or events of social conflict: By coordinating actions to resolve the conflict and making corrections to prevent possible new incidents, greater control of the relationship is achieved. This also makes it possible to send an informative report to those involved.
  • Use of WebGIS: This is a very useful tool that allows us to geo-reference stakeholders, identify areas of influence of operations and social programs, identify areas in conflict, and know the status of communications, working groups, meetings, or complaints.

With the single, centralized, and online database provided by the appropriate digital tools, companies minimize the risks related to the lack of knowledge of the agreements reached with each interest group or stakeholder.

It is also important to remember that these solutions are not enough on their own; they must be complemented by a strategic vision, an ethical commitment, and a willingness to collaborate with communities. 

Pay attention to your stakeholders and protect your company's reputation: Successfully manage your relationships with your stakeholders by adding precision tools to your engagement activities.

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