Now that you've got a plan for delivering an awesome event, it's time to activate your audience! But how do you start? In this article, we'll go over some best practices to build an engaging community for your online event.
Why You Should Create A Community Around Your Event
Congrats on your upcoming event! Now that you've got your topic hashed out, speakers lined up and your date set, it's time to build up a community around your event.
Owning a buzzing community around your event is a key component of any successful launch. If you do it well, you'll have a solid fan base, networking opportunities, market research opportunities, and other benefits right in your hands. Now, let's get into the specifics of how to build an engaged community for your upcoming event.
1. Decide Between a Free and Paid Community
Where do you want to host your community? There are many options you can choose from, from free platforms to paid. Depending on what you want to accomplish within your group, it's worthwhile to shop around for the best platform.
A note about paid vs. free communities: it depends on what you want to do with your community. If you're looking to simply hold conversations, your target audience is mostly on social media, and you're happy to show up consistently in these spaces, there are several platforms you can look into.
You could have free groups on several social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Quora.
Keep in mind that you'll need to set "group rules" so your members know what to expect when they are admitted. And, keep a content calendar of conversations you want to facilitate in the group.
If you're thinking of exploring paid communities, we have some tips for you to mull over!
Paid communities are nice for people who want to get off of social media and use more features to benefit their members. (In fact, we used Circle.so for our Re:Think 2020 summit. Fantastic experience.)
Consider the features of the community you hope to own. Some examples of key features include:
- Max number of members
- API access
- Zapier integration
- Automated group moderation
- Multiple rooms
- Key conversational topics for members
- Repository for trainings
It depends on all you plan to do with your community before, during, and after the event. Take time to think about why you want to grow it, and research the features you may need.
Ultimately, it should be a place where you want to show up consistently and makes the most sense for you.
Once you get settled on your platform of choice, it's time to invite community members.
2. Launch Your Community Before Your Event to a Private Audience
Not sure who would be interested in your community? Sounds like a soft launch would be a great idea for you!
Gathering a bit more recon on your members helps you gain valuable market research on the people who are interested in your topic, event, or brand.
Send private invites to a select few to be the founding members of your community. Obtain initial feedback from their experience. The better you know your audience, the more precise your messaging and offers will become.
Once you feel solid in the feedback you receive in this first group of members, open the doors for more people to join. Keep learning and refining as you go to make the community the most valuable experience for your community members, and for yourself.
3. Publicly Open Your Community Before Your Event
Now you've got to hit the ground running.
Once you've invited your following, email list, and other valuable contacts to join your community, it's time to turn to your speakers.
Your speakers have unique influence over their own following. It's crucial to tap into them, particularly if they have a broad audience.
Provide email templates to your speakers and affiliates inviting people to join the community. Ask them to send this out ahead of the event. (At least one month before the event is recommended.)
From this, you should have requests pouring in to join your community!
Now that you have a growing group, it's time to engage.
4. Get to Know Your Community
Start networking with your ideal attendees as soon as possible. You want to get a sense of who they are, why they care about your specific topic, and how you can best serve them at your upcoming event.
It's a great idea to familiarize yourself with your community so your attendees have a familiar face and name to your topic. Drive the conversation as much as possible.
Here are a couple ideas for you to get to know your community members:
- Provide regular content that sparks conversation
- Encourage networking within your community
- Offer free resources, and ask for feedback
- Ask members to introduce themselves, share why they're participating in this event, and maybe something fun as an ice breaker
The biggest recommendation we can give you is: consistently be conversational.
Don't think you did all of this work just for the pre-game! After your event has launched, you've got to follow up with your community.
This is a crucial time to gain valuable insight as to how your topic was received and provide extra value.
Who knows? Maybe you will come out of it with some important new relationships.
To your success! 🚀