Tips for driving high engagement rates

  • Updated

Note: These tips are focused on Zencity surveys as well as Zencity Engage projects. 


As you launch your survey, check out these best practices for getting the word out. Not only do higher response rates mean higher quality results, many cities and counties around the country have noticed that directly sharing the survey with their residents:


  • Creates moments for conversation with their residents

  • Improves their public perception as a government interested in feedback and prioritizing resident voices

  • Raises resident engagement levels


To spread the word about the survey, we’re seeing local governments employ a series of tactics. From generating earned media in the local press, or displaying posters with a QR code at a county fair to including a link within online utility bills, there are many ways to promote your survey, while retaining the ease of digital access for your residents.


Find ideas and resources below to support you as you develop an effective distribution campaign for your community.


Distribution strategies


Strategy one: Earned media

Leverage your local media to raise awareness of the survey—and show your residents you want their feedback and care about their voice, as well as to ensure the link is shared in more places. Your Zencity Customer Success Manager will provide you with a customizable press release template to share with local media to generate awareness and drive participation. Many Zencity partners large and small have had recent success with this strategy, including Decatur, IL; Guilford, CT; Memphis, TN; San Diego, CA; and more.


Strategy two: Resident newsletter

Incorporate language from your press release to promote the survey in any regular resident newsletter that you publish.


Strategy three: QR code

Let residents scan a QR code (which we create for you) with their phone cameras to be taken directly to your survey’s start. Insert it in printed materials, such as promotional flyers you can place in community centers or libraries or posters to hang at a booth you set up at a farmer’s market, street festival, or fair. Other ideas include printing as stickers or magnets to distribute at community events or local government meetings that are open to the public. All of these options allow you to place a direct link to the survey in the hands of your residents.


Strategy four: Shareable link

Add a link to your survey in any of your online communication, such as e-bills, newsletters, listserv announcements, and platforms like Facebook and Nextdoor.


Strategy five: Kiosks

Place computer kiosks in any highly-frequented public area, such as community centers or libraries, with a browser continuously open to the survey. This method is particularly effective in minimizing the access barrier for residents who might not have reliable Internet connection at home, or who are experiencing houselessness and rely on public computers.


Strategy six: Embed in website

Note: This is available for Community Asks, Pulse surveys, and Community Surveys


Embed an entry point to the survey within your official department page or local government website by following these steps. Not only does it help get the survey in front of more people, it shines a spotlight on your community engagement efforts.


Energizing your community: Distribution resources


Beyond making the survey available across multiple platforms, framing the initiative in a way that excites residents and motivates them to answer the questions is essential—not just to solicit feedback but to successfully communicate that their voice matters and that you are listening.


Find suggested text below to use when you share the survey via email or social posts:


Social assets


Find social post and email templates below. Just add in your community’s name and unique Zencity link, tailor the language to your topic, and you’re ready to go live! Before you hit publish or send, a few tips to keep in mind:


  • Eye-catching images go a long way. Use one of the made-for-social graphics that you receive from your Customer Success Manager to catch the eye of your residents as they scroll through their feed or open their email.

  • Same goes for emojis. Users scan social media feeds quickly. A well-placed emoji within your post (like a finger pointing down to the linked image) can be key in making your post pop and providing signposts towards the action you hope your residents take.

  • Mind the algorithm. When posting on Facebook, the site’s algorithm tends to favor posts with links less, as they lead users outside of the platform. Some people get around this fact by adding the link to the first comment; however, the downside is that the link doesn’t automatically get passed along if anyone else shares the original post. Instead, you can bypass this by uploading one of our made-for-social graphics and adding the link as the “caption.” Not only does this stop Facebook from automatically populating the post with graphics they pull from the link, it also classifies the post as an image post, which tends to perform better in the algorithm.

  • Don’t stay anonymous. When sending an email, send it from a real employee’s name. The more personal effect is shown to increase open rates.



In partnership with community input platform Zencity, [Sunnyville] is running a survey to help prioritize the incoming $8 million of ARPA funding according to the interests and needs of residents. ARPA, otherwise known as the American Rescue Plan Act, is intended to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, provide economic relief, and lay the ground for recovery. Now, it’s now time to allocate those funds.

How do you think the funding should be spent? Share your opinion in this quick survey.



In partnership with community input platform Zencity, [Sunnyville] is conducting a survey this month to understand how residents like YOU feel about eScooters in the downtown area. Have thoughts? Add your voice to the discussion by filling out this short survey


EXAMPLE SOCIAL POST #3 - Transportation

How do you feel about transportation options in [Sunnyville]? Share your thoughts using this short survey run in partnership with community input platform Zencity.



Looking for a quick distraction from work? We have the perfect solution.

Add your voice to the discussion about recycling in [Sunnyville] with this 5 minute survey run in partnership with community input platform Zencity.


EXAMPLE SOCIAL POST #5 - Mask mandates

As [Sunnyville] prepares to update mask guidelines next month, we want to hear from YOU! Add your thoughts to the discussion by answering this short survey run in partnership with community input platform Zencity.



Hearing from all residents is essential to any decision [Sunnyville] makes. With the upcoming vote on bike lanes a month away, we want to hear from you! Add your voice to the discussion by filling out this short survey run in partnership with community input platform Zencity.



Dear [Resident Name],

Council will be voting soon on allowing eScooter companies to start operating in [your community’s name]. To better understand what residents like you think about this proposal, we’ll be conducting a survey over the next month. Our goal is to bring as many voices as possible into the conversation so we can make the decision that best serves our community.

We hope you’ll consider answering these few questions [LINK HERE] and sharing your thoughts with us.




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