Written by CadmiumCD Contributor Pamela Shigeoka
We all want to increase engagement with our events. Now that most events have moved to the virtual space, it may seem like a daunting task to build the same level of engagement that we’re used to with in-person events. How can we get our stakeholders to engage with our content and each other when they won’t be all in the same space?
A great way to stimulate increased engagement for your event is to start building an online community for your organization well before the event takes place. By giving your members (and potential attendees) virtual spaces where they can gather and exchange ideas, you’re laying the groundwork for an event with higher engagement and better ROI on your content.
What are the benefits of an online community?
So, why should you create a community for your organization? There are many, many benefits to having a community, but let’s take a look at the top three reasons and how they dovetail into event planning.
1. Creating Genuine Connections
This should be the goal of every online community. You want your community to be a space where members (and potential attendees) can connect with each other and share ideas. Your organization will also benefit greatly, as having a welcoming community makes you more accessible to your members. Not only will members be able to interact with each other; they will also have a direct line to the organization, which lets you build a strong relationship with the people who want to attend your events. Attendees want to know that your event will give them the education and information that they need. Interacting with your organization in a community format builds trust that you will benefit from greatly.
2. Attract New Members
Growth is the eternal goal for organizations and businesses, and having an online community is an excellent way to attract new members and attendees. That community makes your organization more visible to new users, since it gives them the opportunity to interact with you and with others in their field. And having an active community gives the impression that your organization is a leader in your field.
The Aberdeen Report in 2018 found that having an online community platform helps organizations improve their return on marketing investment by 33 percent. The costs associated with your online community can be quickly recouped through new membership fees or through event registration and sponsorships. Organization members are often the first to register for events, but by increasing your event’s visibility and accessibility through an online community, you can attract attendees from outside of your organization, which creates an opportunity to recruit.
3. Built-in Content Generation
Your online community isn’t just a space for members to interact. It’s also a potential goldmine for content generation. What are your community members talking about? What are the topics that keep coming up in their discussions? When you’re planning an event, having access to member discussions can direct you to focus presentations on what your potential attendees want to see most. If they see that you’re talking about what’s important to them, they are more likely to attend your virtual event.
When is the best time to build an online community?
Honestly? Right now. Having a thriving community in place before your next event will allow you to reap all of the benefits of engagement before your event even takes place. Having that early engagement allows you to better plan for the presentations that your attendees want to see, attract sponsors who will benefit from attendee interest, and create long-lasting content that your organization can monetize even after your event is over.
In an increasingly virtual workspace, giving your members and potential event attendees a space where they can build a community with each other and with your organization is incredibly important. Your members will get the benefit of networking with their peers while your organization increases its reach and builds interest in future events.
I am a freelance writer who enjoys dipping my toes into a wide variety of writing subjects. I have an M.A. in English but found that teaching wasn’t for me, so I’m applying my training to writing instead. I’ve been blogging for ten years and have written everything from book reviews to pop culture essays to business topics. In my spare time, I enjoy writing fiction, playing games, and learning new crafts. I live in Corvallis, Oregon, with my husband, daughter, and dog.