Editor’s note: This post was originally published in March 2016 and has since been refreshed to make sure we’re bringing you the latest and greatest.
4 Ways to Use Events + Conferences to Increase Online Community Engagement
Integrating your live events into your online community management plan can be a highly effective way to engage your customers or members.
There’s something special about attending an event that leaves you feeling invigorated, inspired, and better off for having participated. Making new connections in an environment like this can be energetic, powerful, and truly productive. It can also boost community engagement.
This is great news for association members or customers who are looking to network with people in your organization, their peers, and other experts, as live events can deliver a lot of enthusiasm for a cause, company, or product.
What if you could provide your members with networking opportunities and useful information on the content discussed at your annual conference or industry event, long after it has ended?
We know that it can be challenging to keep the conversation going after the party is over, so take a look at practical tips on how to use events to increase online community engagement.
1. Design Your Community to be a Central Hub for Event Information
When hosting an event, it’s important that your potential attendees have a clear understanding of how to effectively register, engage, and get real-time updates about event information. Registering and/or purchasing a ticket for your event or conference shouldn’t induce a headache – it should be easy for your customers or members to navigate and achieve.
If you have an event management system that integrates with your online community platform, you can easily offer customers access to all of the valuable information they need to know about what’s happening in the community and how to register for upcoming events.
Gathering behavioral data within your community can also help you understand how users interact with your content, like which event pages they’ve browsed. Using that data, you can use tools like marketing automation to send targeted, personalized outreach to members based on the events they have expressed interest in. This promotes value and participation.
Encourage engagement by reinforcing that the community is there as a destination for community members to collaborate and find events to participate in offline. This way, members are participating both online and off.
2. Promote a Mobile Event App to Connect + Engage Attendees
To boost community engagement and event participation, consider offering a mobile event app to demonstrate value for attendees and improve their overall experience. Using mobile apps, your organization can cost-effectively enable staff, attendees, speakers, and sponsors to connect and offer valuable feedback during an event or conference.
Use your community to educate members on beneficial features of your mobile app and get them excited about what they can look forward to at the event. Consider using gamification tactics to reward community members who download your event app or engage with your event content most frequently.
3. Take Questions + Answers from Live Events Back to Your Community
When you’re hosting a webinar or fielding questions at a live event, be sure to log that feedback and take it back to your online community. Those questions can be used to reignite the conversation online after the event has ended. This gives customers or members a conversation starter that reminds them of the event and keeps them engaged and active online.
If one person poses a question, there’s a good chance that the same question was already on the minds of other members. So, post discussion topics and summaries from question and answer sessions to help community members who were not at the event feel included in the conversation. You can also use marketing automation to personalize outreach to those members and drive them to the discussion part of the community – “Here’s what you missed!”
Being able to access valuable event feedback can be beneficial for people who weren’t able to attend your event this time around. If they like what they see, they’re more likely to engage online and participate in your next event.
4. Provide a Valuable Library of Resources to Educate + Engage Members
The last thing you want is for the information discussed at your events to be forgotten after the lights go down. Give your members an awesome reason to log in to your online community after the event is over.
By creating a library of resources filled with exclusive information and discussions your community members need to be successful, your members will log in more often and stay up to date on the latest offline events. Make sure they know these resources exist, though (marketing automation can help with timely email reminders that showcase the value in the community).
By uploading materials from past events to an archive, members will be able to watch past webinars, Q&A sessions and other materials that they might have missed or need a refresher on. For example, each year after Higher Logic’s annual customer conference Super Forum has ended, we make resources from the event available in HUG, our online user community. This is often recordings from speaker sessions, webinar slides, photos, so on.
What’s important is that you recognize and seize the opportunity to continuously educate your members and tap into their interests. This makes them successful.
Online Community + Event Engagement Takeaway
Integrating your live events into your online community management plan can be a highly effective way to engage your customers or members. By posting your event details online, offering a mobile app, and allowing members to register through their account and have access to a wealth of information detailing the content from the event, they’ll have a strong reason to engage in your online community (whether or not they attended the offline event).
Want to learn more about how to drive registrations, increase event engagement, and boost revenue? Explore the resources in our free Conferences + Events Success Kit for strategies on how to manage and promote all phases of your events: before, during, and after.