Engagement Models

The Dot Connector Studio team based our Engagement Models on a decade of research into how participatory media projects connect with users and stakeholders to drive social change.


This model is designed to spread an unexpected bright idea, with a goal of widely influencing conversation. Such media projects aim to disseminate an insight or a new frame, creating opportunities for network-building and outreach.


Big Bang

This model is designed to generate awareness, to reach as much of the targeted audience as possible. Often, such media projects will include an explosive event or coordinated launch.


Bridge Builder
Bridge Builder

This model is designed to open dialogue across users who havediffering opinions. Such media projects create new pathways for debate and exchange between communities that don’t typically interact with one another.



This model is designed to engage and hold the attention of users, generating empathy and loyalty. Such media projects aim to transport users into another place or state of mind, and are often more interactive than participatory.



This model is designed to fund a project through small-scale contributions from individuals. Contributors typically receive rewards or perks based on the amount and become a core part of a project’s audience or network for future outreach.



This model is designed to use the public as the source of ideas and information for the content of a project. Individuals make suggestions for topics of investigation, answer questions or surveys, and sometimes participate in the storytelling or project development.


Domino EffectDomino Effect

This model is designed to move influencers to action. Such media projects don’t need to reach a large audience, but rather mobilize users to interact with a target as part of a series of steps towards reaching a goal or shifting a debate.


Empathy GeneratorEmpathy Generator

This model is designed to introduce a new perspective or inspire action by emphasizing the human experience. These projects typically incorporate deeply personal stories that illuminate how individual lives are affected by a larger issue.


Fan ClubFan Club

This model is centered on a personality, group or brand with a goal of increasing visibility and growing the base. Users of such media projects may connect with one another, but most often communication moves from the hub to the periphery.



This model is designed to reveal publicly relevant information, often as the result of in-depth investigative research. The element of surprise enforces accountability on the part of public figures or entities who might be implicated in wrongdoing.


Invention EngineInvention Engine

This model is designed to stimulate and harness the creativity of users and collaborators. Highly participatory, such media projects serve as perpetual motion machines, constantly engaging new creators and platforms to expand the shape and reach of the project


Networked HubNetworked Hub

Rather than simply seeking to expand audience size, this model focuses on user engagement and mobilization. Such media projects are designed to intensify connections among users, outlets and related organizations around a particular topic, issue or identity.


Safe SpaceSafe Space

This model provides content relevant to a targeted community, along with a managed forum that allows users to communicate privately. Such media projects allow members to cohere around a shared issue or identity and hash out internal differences without fear of criticism from outsiders.


You Are HereYou Are Here

This model is designed to build local community and intensify experiences around shared spaces and concerns. Such media projects have a clearly defined geographic focus, and aim to thicken the relationship between community members and local institutions.