Text, Talk, Engage

Text, Talk, Engage

What is “Text, Talk, Engage?”

Text, Talk, Engage (TTE) is an engagement approach that combines digital technology and face-to-face discussion to inform public policy, stimulate volunteerism or organize new initiatives. It is a process that facilitates text-enabled, small-group conversations that happen in many places on a single day. TTE is a proven, cost-effective and efficient means to engage diverse members of a community, which can be applied as a stand-alone strategy or embedded in a larger engagement campaign.

Why is it important?

Decision makers across all sectors are looking for ways they can engage their audiences. Whether it’s from potential donors, voters, constituents or clients, feedback is increasingly important to meet an organization’s goals. Since audiences can be diverse and the best way to access them ranges from community to community, it’s important to have engagement tools that are just as flexible as your listeners.

We need engagement vehicles that are versatile enough to complement other forms of participation, that can take place anytime, anywhere, and that can be 'scaled up' to deal with state and federal issues.

TTE encourages dialogue that is informed, thought-provoking, and personally meaningful. It helps people figure out what they think, provide input, and decide what else they might want to do.

How does it work?

Participants are recruited primarily through social media and asked to form groups of 3-4 people. They text “start” to a pre-assigned code and then receive a series of text messages, including: discussion questions for the group; process suggestions; polling questions that can be answered from their phones; and requests to respond with action ideas and commitments they will make to increase engagement with their audiences.

Throughout the process, participants also receive links that allow them to see how the people participating in the process have responded to the polling and action questions. Participants are then asked to post pictures of their groups on Twitter using the hashtag #TextTalkEngage. The experience is designed to last roughly one hour, though groups can move as quickly or slowly as they want.

How can it be used?

TTE can be used by all kinds of leaders, including public officials, civic associations, nonprofit organizations, and foundations. The approach can be applied to a state-level or national policy issues, and can be paired with other forms of engagement like more intensive face-to-face deliberations. For elected officials, TTE can yield input from constituents, and connect candidates with voters. For associations that have chapters across the country or across a state, TTE can generate a meaningful dialogue and stronger connections between the members and the main office. For educators, TTE can facilitate learning among students in many different places and settings.

Text, Talk, Engage to Fight COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic requires engagement strategies and tools that facilitate an easy flow of information, allow people to quickly process that information, connect people who need help with people who want to offer help, and give people a chance to weigh in on policy questions that affect them. Text, Talk, Engage to Fight COVID-19 is an engagement approach that helps people achieve all those things using their smartphones.

First developed during President Obama's National Dialogue for Mental Health, the approach can be adapted for many issues and situations. Text, Talk, Engage to Fight COVID-19 includes resources for contact tracing and local volunteering opportunities, and links to an online platform called Pol.is that allows people to find common ground on tough policy questions related to the pandemic.

Who has used it?

TTE evolved from an earlier project, Text Talk Act, which was part of President of Obama’s National Dialogue for Mental Health. Since 2013, Text Talk Act has engaged over 50,000 people in productive dialogue and action on mental health issues.

The League For Innovation has used TTE as part of their Faculty Voices Project. The process enabled them to learn about the issues that were important to community college faculty members across the country.

How can YOU use it?

TTE allows leaders and organizations to engage citizens on all kinds of issues. Elected officials can use it to get input from their constituents.

Political candidates can have direct access to voters and receive their feedback on issues that matter to them.

For associations with chapters across the country, TTE can create stronger connections with the main office.
Back to top

Looking to learn more?

Fill out the form below to learn more about Text, Talk, Engage (TTE) and how you can use this effective process to increase valuable participation and engagement with your audiences.