Events are communal by nature. In this digital age, attendees value the face to face connections they make once or twice a year, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use the digital technology that’s available to assist in building your community. Creating an online social network can be mutually beneficial for your organization and your attendees, and pay off big time over the long term. Studies have shown that customers who engage with a brand online report spending 20% to 40% more on that brand, or on that company’s products.
The most successful events are strategic in nature and focus on building community to advance an organization’s mission. Whether you’re planning an event for 500 people, or 5000, there are strategies you can use to engage your attendees and build the desired online community.
Do not fall into the trap of engaging for engagement’s sake. The first step to building an effective online community is to have a clear set of goals beforehand. Perhaps you’d like to raise awareness of a new feature on your mobile app. Or maybe your organization is celebrating an anniversary and you’re looking for pictures and stories from previous events. Whatever your goal is, above all else, be genuine in your communication.
So, now that you have your goals in place, it’s time to explore different tools available. Tools like Ning and SocialEngine can help you build out your own private community. Some of the benefits of building your own online community include access to powerful analytics, opportunity to moderate the conversation, ability to block spam, as well as the control of customizing the experience. This does require more work on your part, and not every event requires this. However, if you think this might be a right fit for you it’s worth looking into.
You can also create events on facebook, or groups on linkedin. These should be used for those events that may not require a private social network or events that don’t desire 365 year-round engagement. But, don’t think that these online communities do not take man hours to cultivate. We learned a lot from the film, “Field of Dreams”, however, when it comes to online social networks “If you build it, they will come,” doesn’t always apply.
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