Hi there, this is the Zolotonosha.City team, and we are excited to share our success story: how our “Rishennia Ye” (Solution exist) podcast helped solve 61 difficult issues in the community in just 3 months. The audience of the project, which helps to solve the information requests of the residents of our community, has already reached 9,259 people and is rapidly increasing.
Infographic of the achievements of the “Rishennia Ye” (Solution exist) podcast project in percentage ratio. Podcast’s audience: 9,259 people, 61/65 requests resolved, 2,362 respondents joined our surveys

Let’s start from the beginning. We have always passionately followed the development of the city, joined in whenever possible, but this year, we decided to support public activism in our own way. One day, we had an idea to create a podcast that would highlight current issues and offer constructive solutions to our city, and we came up with an appropriate name.

Step 1: Creating a podcast

Our first episode of the podcast was launched with the best of hopes and minimal baggage of experience. We received a request: how to overcome stress during the war. Our first episode called How to Deal with Stress was devoted to this topic.

We hoped that at least 100 people would complete our survey, and we would receive at least 10 additional inquiries. We were surprised by the survey results. Our social media form reached 1,200 users and was viewed 1,309 times. Despite the fact that the percentage of personal inquiries (including by phone) is quite high, our social networks have already become a springboard for digital information for the project. In particular, we received useful feedback: “You have become an updated version of the radio which we used to listen to in our city.”

We expected 100 people to complete the survey, and we would receive at least 10 additional inquiries. In fact, the form was viewed 1,309 times, 176 respondents shared their opinion and asked a number of questions, from which 32 requests were collected

176 respondents shared their opinions and asked a number of questions that worried them—a total of 32 requests were collected. The topic was not easy because the questions were of a psychological nature. We are sincerely grateful to our audience that they were not afraid, that they trusted us, crossed the line of discomfort, and talked about what was troubling them. Our expert joined in and provided answers to all questions. Some of them did not make it to the air of the podcast, but we additionally published them in text format for distribution on our website and in the printed newspaper.

In the first few days, 462 users viewed the podcast, today, this figure is 810.

After working on the first episode, we realized that it was necessary to use not only Google forms for surveys, but also to be creative with questions on social networks to engage a larger number of participants, that is, a potential audience interested in creating new episodes of “Rishennia Ye” (Solution exist) podcast. Moreover, an additional form was needed for questions related not only to the proposed topic, but also to another, to be more flexible in planning the content.

Chart of fluctuations in the number of views of the podcast episodes on the website for 3 months

We overcame our own fears and obstacles, learned the art of speaking into a microphone. Being the voice of our city is a great responsibility. We already had some requests to process: about 15 questions that could be discussed in the future. They concerned various things: psychological problems, questions about medical care, and complaints about fraudsters. We tried to take all requests that could somehow be combined into one topic. But where to get others: so that people are not ashamed and not afraid to express them.

Stage 2: Engaging the audience

We have published surveys in several local groups (called interest groups), including:

1. Facebook group Zolotonosha Amalgamated Community, 4,000 members

2. Facebook group Zolotonosha Today, 15,400 members

3. Facebook group OUR ZOLOTONOSHA, 4,500 members

4. Facebook group Zolotonosha Live, 28,200 members

These are the largest and most influential groups in our community that share current news and materials, as well as allow conducting surveys, which we also used. So we got a decent level of engagement compared to other posts on our site. While the podcast garnered a reach of 2,000, the news had a much more modest reach of 700–800 views.

Previously, before distributing surveys in interest groups, we had a maximum of 50–60 responses. And now—4 times more, up to 200

Local self-government representatives also joined the discussion. Instead of 226 planned respondents, 292 were interviewed, plus 5 more representatives of local self-government. This is a manifestation of commitment and trust not only in our resource, but also in materials in general. We took it as the fact that representatives of local self-government saw the usefulness of our project, and decided to join the discussions.

As we can see, interest groups can also give a good percentage of respondents. We specially emphasize: previously, before the distribution of surveys in these groups, we collected a maximum of 50–60 answers. And now—4 times more, up to 200.

We try to approach our respondents with understanding, so we offer a convenient format for providing answers (surveys on social networks—posts and stories, telephone surveys, personal communication, Google form (although now we understand that it is not so convenient and takes a lot of time).

We got over 100 new subscribers on our Telegram channel thanks to our podcast. It was a great achievement and we understood that our work was important to many people. In the first six months of its existence, the channel had 120–130 subscribers (the number varied), and then we had 100 subscribers in the first 2 months, now it is already 150, and the number grows occasionally.

Stage 3: Increasing the effectiveness of surveys

We’ve simplified the form for social media surveys about podcast experiences and now use emojis instead of words. As a result, instead of the planned 110 respondents, 123 were interviewed, plus 4 podcast participants shared their impressions with us.

With the help of short phrases and emojis, we significantly improved the effectiveness of surveys and included the audience in the discussion. It is essential to note here that emojis and the short form played a decisive role. We noticed an inclination of our audience to spending less time on discussions and different understanding of the same meaning or its shades.

Symbols make it easier to understand and also speed up the answer itself. To read several options, you need at least 3-5 seconds, and it takes literally a second to choose an emoji. It would seem that the difference is small, but it is not—it is colossal. We’ve seen this in our users’ responses, even with text options, we still add emojis. Thus, our sample of respondents grew from 50 to 200 on Facebook alone.

Stage 4: Using third-party services

We also decided to use third-party services such as Mentimeter to conduct surveys. This allowed us to communicate with the audience faster and get more valuable feedback.

An example of our feedback from the audience on the Mentimeter platform

We turned to this platform because users did not want to leave comments under posts, seeking anonymity instead. The new platform helped them share their thoughts while remaining anonymous.

In this way, up to 10 new respondents were included. It turned out that the respondents in Mentimeter left not only their own answers (because there are three suggestions), but also the answers of relatives, colleagues or friends. So maybe quantitatively this platform did not give us a big shift, but qualitatively it definitely helped. We received the desired text feedback. They wrote words of gratitude and praised us, but at the same time they drew attention to the shortcomings, which we gradually fixed, and this is worth a lot.

Interactive platforms and emojis are just a godsend! The former allow leaving comments anonymously, which is important in, for example, topics concerning health and psychology. The latter save time and people are more willing to participate in discussions

New interactive platforms provide clear progress because they not only develop the audience digitally, but also allow communication almost in real time. The mechanism is simple: the reader gives their feedback and has the opportunity to see what other people think about it. At the same time, they keep their opinion because they will see the comments of others only after their answer. So, we believe that such platforms allow getting honest information and results.

Stage 5: Personal communication with the audience

We always preserved an opportunity for personal communication with the audience. This has been and is an essential aspect of work for us because we wanted to be closer to our listeners and consider their opinions and suggestions. We talked on the phone (we have a line that readers can call with their questions), collected data on the street, went to the city hall to ask visitors there, talked on messengers and social networks, and even visited the library, the employment center and the hospital. It took from 3 to 5 hours a week; mostly, the work fell on the shoulders of our administrator and project manager.

The main thing is to choose the right question. Do not ask a hundred. Ask one thing: the most important or just relevant, and then—get the person to talk. No one is against talking, the main thing is “to get down to it,” and not to waste people’s time on polls, which the public does not like so much. After all, they are taken in the sample, and they still like an individual approach. Personalize your survey so it resonates with everyone. As a result, you will have an increase in the trust and loyalty of the audience.

For example, we saw the result quickly, in comments and reviews on social networks. Our audience began to share their own ideas and suggestions more actively, which made our podcast more dynamic and diverse. Statistics confirm this.

Thus, the first episode was viewed by 800 people, and the fourth — by almost 1,500. This is almost a two-fold increase. At first, we had about 10 specific requests (some were repeated), and later people started sharing their stories, and this allowed us to expand the request itself: to ask the expert not 1 question, but 3-5 on one microtopic.

Make it convenient for people to participate and don’t waste their time, and they will be more active in sharing their own ideas and suggestions

Here is, for example, a question for the first episode: “Why does the same stressful event cause different reactions in different people? It causes severe mental trauma with someone, and another person can get through this event more easily and live on without significant difficulties.”

Here’s how it turned out now that we added another form for questions, not only thematic ones.

♦ How to engage young people in social projects?

♦ How to register a person in the city now? Do I need an extract from the old place of residence?

♦ How to find out the schedule of buses and minibuses?

♦ How to change your GP if there are no free slots?

♦ How to contact a GP? It is very difficult to schedule an appointment. Makes me not want to come!

♦ How is the city developing?

♦ How to get help for IDPs?

♦ Are active parks developing in Zolotonosha?

♦ Good afternoon! I have a request to the leadership of the unified Zolotonosha district: to establish a bus stop at the control point in the direction of Irkliyev and Chornobai for passengers who are forced to get there by public transportation.

♦ Are there benefits for customs clearance of passenger cars from abroad for military personnel?

Thus, we can see what else worries our listeners. Some issues are not important to discuss in the podcast. Hardly anyone would listen to the bus schedule. But we gave the answer to the person personally. Yes, we spent some time, but we kept the audience because they feel important, and their opinion is important.

The story about the bus stop is interesting. We reported the opinion to the authorities, and the stop has not yet been established, but attention has been paid to this area and it is being repaired. So, eventually, a stop will appear.

We are truly grateful to our audience for their support and cooperation, which allowed us to develop and create useful content for our city. The doctors thank us for the publication on first aid:

A patient came to me who had an injury and it was necessary to provide the first medical aid, but he noted that he had already done everything because he had recently listened to the podcast, shared the doctor of the local outpatient clinic #2.

Librarians who are approached by more people also support us:

Previously, readers were simply not familiar with the technique of bibliotherapy, but now more and more often they tell me: “What should I read, so as not to get stressed?” I smile, but people take care of themselves and that’s good, says the local librarian, our protagonist, by the way.

Our success story is far from over, and we continue to work to achieve common goals and improve the quality of life in our community. We are already planning the next season of the podcast, we are not even closing the form for questions because every week, we receive 3-5 additional questions: everyone needs to be heard! Perhaps this is our motto for the future, this is precisely what we strive for.

AUTHORS: Zolotonosha.City team

The publication was prepared with the financial support of the European Union. Its content is the sole responsibility of the Ukrainian  Media Business Association and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.