Activating stakeholders and maintaining their engagement is critical to success, especially when it comes to proving ROI for your Community Panel and ensuring budget for the next fiscal year. Stakeholders could include any of the internal clients you work with, senior management, shareholders, your advertising agency and other groups or individuals you have contact with regarding information requests and insight dissemination.
This may seem obvious when you see it on paper, but I've seen some of our clients be surprised about how much effort it takes to be an ambassador within their company for their community panel. If you're a researcher you're used to planning out projects to answer the information requests that come across your desk from your internal stakeholders. But if you're used to doing only ad hoc projects vs ongoing community panels you'll probably need to step up your time commitment to manage and engage with your internal stakeholders and clients.
You don't want to be in the position of explaining - or worse, defending - your community panel to your colleagues. This can happen when people aren't familiar with what a community panel is and when they haven't been involved in planning, process and presentation of insights. So ask yourself: does your Executive Team get what you're doing? Do they see the value in your community panel? If they don't know what you're doing, are you at risk of losing your budget next year?
Coming up with a plan to activate your stakeholders initially and then keeping them engaged over time will set you up for better success, and can elevate your position in the organization even more as well! Showcasing goals for the community panel, tools you can utilize, and involving them in brainstorming and prioritizing are great ways to activate stakeholders.
For ongoing engagement, giving them direct access to your community panels through various qualitative activities, sharing quotes, profiling members, involving them in hindsight and planning sessions, writing internal newsletters and tying insights into your enterprise feedback management system (if you have one) are great ways to keep them engaged on an ongoing basis.
During Roadmapping sessions with clients I've seen their senior management get really excited putting together internal newsletters and insight repositories for the community panel and they often view this as a starting point for aggregating insights across multiple listening and insight post in the organization.
For more detailed ideas please read this Best Practice Briefing on Activating and Engaging Your Stakeholders.