Increasing Rural Civic Engagement in the Digital Age

Research & Engagement, 2017


Summary

Much interest is being placed on the role digital platforms play on increasing civic engagement in urban communities. However, their role in rural settings is not understood as well—but just as critical. Rural areas can and should benefit from utilizing digital platforms to become more responsive and increase civic engagement. In working with communities in programs such as Marketing Hometown America, communication and engaging members were always identified as issues as well as the question of how to reach and connect with younger members of the community. This project seeks to increase civic engagement in three rural Nebraska communities by developing strategies and tactics for engaging in conversations online, as well as social media training, to assist rural communities in increasing and improving overall engagement.

Impacts

Three communities in Nebraska – Ashland, Nebraska City and Ravenna – were selected to serve as pilot communities for this project. Steering teams were set up in each community to work directly with project personnel. The service learning component of this project involved students from UNO’s Social Media Lab who worked directly in the communities to learn about each community’s current social media presence. Students then prepared reports and identified strategies and tactics to strengthen their competitiveness in the digital economy.

Once the community steering teams each developed a strategy plan to strengthen competitiveness in the digital economy based on the recommendations, each community began working on implementing the strategies. A community survey focused on measuring civic engagement was done at the beginning of the project and will be done again at the completion to determine whether the increased social media tactics increased civic engagement.

Ultimately, the goal is to leverage broadband applications to improve a community’s competitiveness in the digital economy, community readiness to address change and/or action, and increase civic engagement and strengthen social networks, so rural communities can better respond to 21st century issues.

 

Project Team

Partners

 

Publications

A Social Media Strategy Plan for Ashland, Nebraska https://drive.google.com/file/d/1gCyNTA1DiPKbF7t6QnlbbLK49iues4DS/view

Nebraska City – Red to the Core https://drive.google.com/file/d/1S8E5RhKZc9oBbo8uiRaCtIm0s5ZRfSb_/view

Ravenna, Nebraska Social Media Audit https://drive.google.com/file/d/1xLc93kdkGNLQsOZQWpoOM2WjXMB_TvWn/view

Increasing Rural Civic Engagement in the Digital Age: Initial Trust Survey – Ashland, Nebraska https://drive.google.com/file/d/1BgqB_CjgWGj4viopn34FfcE7_hIbLGG4/view

Increasing Rural Civic Engagement in the Digital Age: Initial Trust Survey – Nebraska City, Nebraska https://drive.google.com/file/d/1voh_x9T42r95dcxzKifmBdMPgeNGc2X2/view

Increasing Rural Civic Engagement in the Digital Age: Initial Trust Survey – Ravenna, Nebraska https://drive.google.com/file/d/1YMqYMg8i8u-knGkc8_Ze8TVRFqQTtWjP/view

Intelligent Community Checklist Report – City of Ravenna, NE https://drive.google.com/file/d/1txH0nQtNbctWmy3HYlDIIZNkjr3nIVK1/view

Intelligent Community Checklist Report – City of Nebraska City, NE https://drive.google.com/file/d/1hvprkWaMIHURWCuT8LRbTp8C9bpbuYMv/view

Intelligent Community Checklist Report – City of Ashland, NE https://drive.google.com/file/d/1i5JywQh5aQaTnHShGv-70Aeb6LTHu8i5/view

 

Media Coverage

All three communities had newspaper articles encouraging participation in the trust survey. In addition, communities social media to encourage participation. A sample below:

The Ashland Gazette: Trust Survey deadline extended http://www.wahoo-ashland-waverly.com/ashland/news/trust-survey-deadline-extended/article_efd19b2a-d6b8-11e7-9619-6b8f48f253e0.html

The Ashland Gazette: Nov. 14 deadline for survey http://www.wahoo-ashland-waverly.com/ashland/news/nov-deadline-for-survey/article_7d47d1c8-c006-11e7-9628-d74e6ca47e42.htm

 

Contact: Roberto Gallardo, robertog@purdue.edu