It is easy to discuss the value of instituting an open innovation program (for starters, how about qualitative information married with quantitative value?), but what is sometimes a challenge to even the best open innovators is the task of building and communicating with a widespread crowd in order to benefit from open innovation. It is for this reason that so many innovation initiatives invest heavily in recruiting and retaining communications talent as part of those programs.
And these communications groups don’t have an easy job of it either. They spend a lot of time debating various communications channels, they wordsmith questions and answers that they will present to the crowd and these same teams are also oftentimes in charge of developing engaging online and offline content that will speak to their audience: the crowd.
Each year, IdeaScale hosts the open innovation awards for a number of different reasons – but one of the most valuable fringe benefits of reading through the open innovation award winners is discovering new best practices that support successful innovation programs. In this case, there was one lesson that surfaced several times: Twitter is a great communications tool when it comes to engaging a crowd in an open innovation initiative. Here are three tips that were shared by the winning initiatives.
- Tweet directly at organizations that you would like to involve in the conversation. Starting with your own organization and network when you’re launching an open innovation program is helpful, but it’s also helpful to get beyond your initial community. When the Department of Labor used the IdeaScale platform to gather valuable insight about the accessibility of social media platforms as well as employment opportunities for people with disabilities in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), they tweeted directly at organizations that had followers who might be interested in sharing solutions. This resulted in over one hundred on-topic ideas in the DOL online dialogues.
- Host offline events. It’s important to gather great ideas online, but sometimes the best way to encourage participation is by talking about your challenge at offline events and sharing ideas on Twitter live at those events. For example, when the Department of Energy was soliciting ideas that would help to lower solar costs, they hosted offline events that talked about solutions and on the landing page of their IdeaScale community, they would promote those in-person community events. In the end, SunShot Catalyst became the fastest funding-mechanism in the Department of Energy.
- Identify subject-specific hashtags. When the Department of Labor solicited participation for their online dialogues, they turned to Twitter and used subject-specific hashtags such as #STEM, #Technology and #IT in order to generate conversation. As a result, the Department of Labor has engaged participation in their dialogues from every state in the United States.
If you’d like to learn more about the IdeaScale Open Innovation Award contest and its winners, you can visit the contest site here.
How do you communicate with your network? What are some of the best channels to invite collaboration?