How to Integrate Events Into Your Community Strategy is the seventh in a series of Community Management Talks. Previous webinars cover topics including: content, activity, managing growth, facilitating member engagement, converting newcomers into active members, and the social science of online communities. To be alerted of upcoming webinars, email Allison with the subject line "Add me."

Events are an important component to any community's growth strategy. No matter what type of community you have, there are events that you can hold on a recurring or one-time basis to foster a deeper sense of community: "A feeling members have of belonging, a feeling that members matter to one another and the group, and a shared faith that member’s needs will be met through their commitment to be together." 

Breda Doherty, co-founder and director of Hubb.it and a community management consultant with FeverBee, joined us to discuss the impact of events, explore different types of events, and explain how events can fit into your community strategy. We invite you to watch a recording of the webinar below and read on for a few words about the presentation.

Events are essential to the development of a healthy online community, and should be included in the community's growth strategy when it moves from the inception to establishment phase. Too many communities shun events entirely, leaving members to rely on organic discussions as the sole stimulus of content. This is a mistake. Events provide a cause for constant activity, enable social interactions, give members a reason to visit more frequently, and facilitate a strong sense of community.

As a community manager, you can get a lot of mileage out of one event. Take this webinar as an example: Breda picked the topic, I drafted a synopsis and posted an invitation to the Ning Creators community, sent out a promotional email to all previous webinar participants, created an event on Google+, and posted the news to our social channels.

As the event neared, some discussion was generated over on Creators, and the post was shared by our community to Twitter and Facebook. The registration list continued to grow, and we were ready for a great presentation. During the presentation, we encouraged listeners to submit questions for the Q&A session to follow. We also carried out a conversation on Twitter using the hashtag #NingTalk. Now, we're sharing the recording and using material reviewed in the presentation as the basis for this blog post. Visitors to this blog can contribute their thoughts using the Disqus commenting feature, and elements of the webinar will be brought back to the Creators community to foster further discussion on the topic of events.

Broken down, this means a single one-hour webinar can result in one or more blog posts, multiple community-led discussions, an email broadcast and follow-up, social activity and amplification. The ideas presented in the webinar will, over time, fuel further discussion and may even lead to ancillary events. Additional content ideas include photos, summaries, video footage, supporting interviews with key individuals about the event, a preview, live blog, and so forth.

So you see, online events are really quite beneficial -- they not only invigorate the community by bringing in outside ideas, they also stimulate dialogue and create a shared experience. Shared experience is fundamental, as it adds to the sense of community a sense of history and shared purpose.

Offline events in the form of exhibitions, product launches, conferences, trade shows, and themed parties are an even greater means of solidifying relationships,  building trust, and growing community. According to a study by Young, Takeuda and Cuellar, offline events can increase page views by 60.4 percent and participation by 27.2 percent. Community members are indeed most engaged during events -- they are also more likely to invite friends to join in the fun.

Watch the webinar for more information on the psychological implications of events, tips on how to determine which events are best suited to your community, and a more detailed look at the kinds of content you can derive from a single event.

Big thanks to Breda Doherty for sharing her expertise, and thank you to everyone who participated. 

For more in our Community Management Talks series, check out Create Content that Your Community Will Lovewith Richard Millington. You can also download half of Richard's new book "Buzzing Communities: How to Build Bigger, Better, and More Active Online Communities" for free. To be alerted of upcoming Community Management Talks, email Allison with the subject line "Add me."


Breda Doherty is the co-founder and director of Hubb.it, a global events community aiming to bring online the spirit of festivals, connect event goers, provide them with information to make their attendance easier, and give them a place to review their experiences. In addition to managing the emergent Hubb.it community, Breda is a consultant with FeverBee, and helps to run the FeverBee Professional Community Management Course, which you can check out at course.feverbee.com.

Breda got her start in community management at LearningPool, the UK's largest online learning community where events were a key part of the community’s growth strategy, and she saw firsthand how powerful events can be when growing an online community.

 

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