How online engagement can inspire offline action (research findings)

September saw the launch of our report into how online engagement can drive action offline published by vInspired, the UK’s leading youth volunteering charity. The research worked with young people across the UK to understand the role that digital technologies play in their lives and how best to use engage them online to inspire them to take action offline.

The research highlighted four current trends that brands and organisations should be exploring if they want to use online tools to drive offline action – be it to drive volunteering, as is the case with vInspired, to drive a change in opinion or indeed to drive purchase of a product. These trends are best expressed as questions that brands should be addressing when considering their digital strategies:

  1. How can influencers and advocates online inspire action offline? Moving beyond just blogger outreach or engagement, how do brands work with the true influencers that will inspire people to take action. The report considers the role of celebrities and celebrity endorsements, and suggests that how young people are influenced is more nuances – brands need to map who really influences their target market and develop strategies to engage them.
  2. Why should you curate content rather than creating your own? Digital tools often drive brands to create more content – posts for Twitter, articles for a blog, images for Facebook or Instagram. We identified a real need, among young people, for organisations that act as a true curator – not adding more content but sorting through the content that already exists, and selecting the content that is useful.
  3. Which incentives really work to inspire offline action? When we explored what drives long-term, deep engagement with a brand or activity, money is never the answer, but neither is issuing badges or awards that are meaningless. In many cases, the incentives are quite unique to an individual, but what they have in common is that the incentives carry value in the community a young person is in.
  4. Is the collaborative economy a threat or an opportunity? Finally we explored the impact that the emerging trend in the collaborative economy is having on how young people and brands interact, and what it can really mean for brands and young people to work together to achieve something.

The full report can be downloaded here, and a video of highlights is below.