One of our primary focus points should be on generating great member experiences when building sustainable online communities. While there are many ways to achieve this, hosting community events could be one of the easiest and most rewarding hacks for making it happen.
Events are structured physical/virtual gatherings hosted to bring members closer such that they contribute to individual member advancement towards the common community purpose. But, as I write this, I know you must be wondering that in a world of webinar overflow, what could you possibly do to gain the attention of your targeted community audience?
Events spark dialogue between old and new members – Communities are spaces where you as a community builder foster relationships. When a new member joins the community, it is your responsibility to break the ice and make them feel comfortable – not just around you, but your folks too. Highly engaged communities recognize this and thus have recurring events specifically dedicated to welcome new members.
Events spread the word about your community – In a world enveloped by online advertisements 24×7, hosting an open educational event around a topic of your community domain could be a great way of attracting potential members. Many community builders in my network have expressed discomfort in asking members for direct registrations. This is their personal, subtle go-to member expansion strategy.
Events contribute to member education and recognition – By definition, events are people gatherings in physical/virtual spaces. Such gatherings are mostly focused on educating members on current domain trends or providing a stage for them to share their existing learnings and being recognized. Either way, events help community members to learn, grow and share their knowledge with the world.
Now coming back to addressing the elephant in the room. For hosting any good event, you first need to ask yourself these four questions :
- Why am I planning this community event?
- Who is the target audience of this event?
- How does it contribute to the overall community mission?
- What would be the theme of the event?
Events come in different shapes and sizes, if you want to keep the anticipation of your members going, you should always experiment! Here is the framework we use at LikeMinds for creating new event types –
- Is your event open for everyone/member-only?
- Does it spark one-to-many/many-to-many dialogue?
- Does it last for an hour(s)/distributed across days?
- Are you looking for external speaker(s)/internal member highlights?
Now that your event purpose and type is clearly defined, here are some great hacks for you from the LikeMinds Community Team for hosting a great event:
- If you have several topics in mind for the next community event, conduct a poll to understand which topic is of maximum interest to the community.
- Conduct a fun 10-15 mins ice-breaker for participants at the start of the event. Tools like IceBreaker, Kahoot, etc. should come in handy here.
- While the community event is on, pick real-time member/speaker quotes and share them on social media to create buzz and brand engagement
- Make it a habit to share event highlights with the community and the world. And of course, while you are it, don’t forget to tag your participants and speakers!
- Make event highlights more appealing by adding member testimonials/quotes to them.
- Data never lies. Consider using reporting techniques for measuring both qualitative (word cloud, member quotes) and quantitative data (turn out percentage, number of returning participants, social media mentions) of your event when you create the internal evaluation report.
Keeping all these in mind, we hope you are well disposed to host your community events like a boss.