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Events play a vital role in the successful development of online communities. Alongside discussions and content events is one of the three ways you can increase participation in your community.
Events are categorized by venue (online/offline), frequency, size, and purpose (some events are intended to inform or educate whilst others are purely for entertainment).
Most online communities only host online events, but this may be a mistake. Offline events have a far greater impact than online events. A single offline event can achieve more than dozens of online events. Such events solidify existing relationships members have with each other and provide the platform for a rapid growth in activity within the community.
Regular online events
These are a staple of successful communities. These events are accessible to all members and provide co-ordinated activities at specific times.
Regular online events are usually held on a weekly and monthly basis.
This frequent activity builds a consistency of interactions between members which leads to trust, a key component of successful relationships within communities.
Examples include webinars, competitions or themed discussion.
Irregular online events
Communities should also host irregular events not held at fixed intervals. These events celebrate a community’s achievements, bring audiences together for a specific purpose, or promote the community to external audiences.
Examples include celebrating milestones such as the community’s 10-year anniversary, fundraising days, or product launches.
Regular offline events
Offline events may be a great means of promoting the community to a broader audience and recruiting volunteers who will also support the community’s online activities. Most importantly as mentioned above they also solidify online relationships.
In practice, most offline community events are regular, held on an annual, bi-annual, or quarterly basis. However, smaller events and gatherings do play a role in both larger communities and those which are localized around a specific area.
Examples of regular offline events include conferences, product launches, themed parties, or trade shows.
When organizing an event ensure you create content to build momentum pre the event happening and to bring a sense of closure once the event has ended.
Different events will be suited to different audiences. You need to find out what events suits your community members.
(Image: Surprise party !, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from mustafeez27's photostream)