Post authored by Donna Kastner, Founder of Retirepreneur
The investment to design remarkable live event experiences is steep and getting steeper – not to mention the countless hours (and dollars) spent in hopes of acquiring new attendees.
Yet there’s one category where event organizers might be underinvesting: The Post Event Experience, which starts the moment event guests leave and return to their busy day-to-day world.
Live events can be powerful catalysts for peer-to-peer sharing and discovery, but it’s the conversations that happen after your event when the richest event ROI is realized.
Much will be forgotten if new ideas discovered at your conference or trade show aren’t explored, tested and refined.
As for new connections, they’ll likely fizzle out without careful nurturing.
Tick tock. Tick tock.
As time passes, event discoveries and connections start to fade away.
Why Event Online Communities Matter – Especially in Today’s Busy World
I’m hardly an expert on this community engagement piece and granted, it’s a tough nut to crack.
With that said, I’m striving to form more vibrant communities, both online and offline, where peer-to-peer exchanges flourish and ultimately deliver the outcomes our guests/members/customers crave, but they can’t easily find on their own.
I’ve had a couple of breakthroughs recently on this community learning journey.
The first is a new book: Get Together: how to build a community with your people. By the way, if you’re an Amazon Prime Member, you can score the Kindle edition free.
Don’t let that price fool you – this book is chock-full of meaningful takeaways and it’s a fast read.
One of the biggest takeaways for me:
Build your community WITH people, not FOR them.
Hmmm, that’s a tall order for a Type-A like me, but it’s spot on.
Community isn’t one more digital platform to blast messages from.
It’s also not the place to repurpose social posts. It’s something far more valuable for those who take the time to understand it and embrace their new role as Community Host.
This two-minute video speaks volumes on the power of community, introducing three stages to build communities that last well beyond your live event.
There’s lots more to this book, including stories that bring community-building strategies to life.
Want to create an event online community of fans who will bring others to your event tent? As the authors shared, it’s much like building a fire…
- Spark the flame
- Stoke the fire
- Pass the torch
Step 3 is the most crucial of all, but it can only happen after you’ve delivered soundly on Steps 1 and 2.
If You Don’t Build It, They Might
“If you build it, they will come.”
This famous line from the classic film “Field of Dreams” (1989) may have held true in the past, but the ante for event audience acquisition and sustained engagement has been raised considerably.
In today’s fast-changing and hyper-busy world, year-round community engagement is the new benchmark we must strive to meet.
In doing so, in time, you’ll be graced with a community that can’t wait to meet their online peers at your next live event.
There are quite a few platforms that boast of community building capabilities, but mileage varies.
Some integrate beautifully with your CRM (Customer Relationship Management) or AMS (Association Management Software), allowing for deeper insight capture about what’s top of mind for individuals now, plus where they’re likely heading next.
At this point, you might be thinking your attendees will never have the means to compete with you in this higher-level, community building realm.
There’s a nimble and affordable platform that’s gaining attention – Mighty Networks. I caught a few podcast interviews with Mighty Networks founder, Gina Bianchini.
You might recognize the name, as she was CEO of Ning, which she co-founded with Marc Andreessen.
Mighty Networks is billed as “a software-as-a-service platform (SaaS) for creators, niche entrepreneurs, and businesses to bring together content, online classes, community, and subscriptions all in one place.”
Think of it as Facebook or LinkedIn, but it’s private and without all the spammy ads about things your community doesn’t care about.
Keep in mind, there’s a free Creator version of Mighty Networks that’s quite capable. It won’t be long before the influencers attending your event start exploring this as a pathway to build their own communities.
Why not intervene and help them build something more valuable with lasting power?
One Final Caveat About Communities
If you’re inclined to release all the content from your live event in one fell swoop, that runs counter to what’s working today as far as building online communities.
Releasing something new each week (or more frequently) and sparking peer-to-peer exchanges gives your attendees more reasons to come back. Who wouldn’t want that?
Add search capabilities, so they can quickly find what they need, when they need it, and you’ll be amazed at how this triggers higher engagement and loyalty.
Even better, you now have a mighty platform to promote your next live event.
Is building and event online community a priority for your organization?
If so, what discoveries can you share to help us all advance faster?
If not, what roadblocks are getting in your way?
Donna Kastner has spent good portion of her career as an event experience design consultant and is now building a dynamic collaboration community for executives age 50+ who are striving to make a smooth segue from full-time job to part-time consulting gig.
As the founder of Retirepreneur, Donna’s championing a movement to help others design flexible and fulfilling encore career opportunities.