When we're planning a digital engagement campaign, we need to make sure we're building it on solid foundations. This means, first and foremost, building an audience who know and care about the inquiry.
The subject of an inquiry, why it matters, how to find out more - this is the key first step to building digital engagement.
Setting the scene with questions
Committees always set the scene for an inquiry in a formal document called the 'terms of reference.' These can often be long and detailed - perfect for a formal document, not so ideal for social media.
What we've found works best for Twitter are a couple of questions that establish the general focus of the inquiry.
This offers a softer route into the inquiry, and can use images - a paw print, or a wind turbine - to quickly convey the general topic of the inquiry.
Questions are also an effective way of provoking a response - what is your opinion?
Timing the launch
Sometimes the announcement of the inquiry will be a major event, and so the Twitter launch should coincide with the announcement. However, the Twitter launch can be long after the first announcement.
For example, the Communities and Local Government Committee's announced their homelessness inquiry on 17 December 2015, and launched it on Twitter on 1 March 2016.
Their upcoming digital engagement campaign (watch this space!) now has a solid audience to speak to.
This is a great example of timing the Twitter launch so that interest is still high when the bulk of the content is published. If we'd launched back in December, interest would probably have petered out by now.
The beginning of a journey
Once a big and relevant audience know and care about an inquiry, there's huge potential for motivating that audience to get involved and spread the word about your work.
It's only the first step, but the first step can be the most important.