Live events are a valuable asset, but so is online engagement in the weeks before and after the event. Events, after all, only take place a few days out of the year. Online engagement ensures you keep in touch with guests in between events. We’ll outline the do’s and don’ts of managing a community that makes up current and future event attendees.
- Community Building
Do: Build a Community
Building a social media following does not equate to building a community. The latter is more about fostering a deeper connection, while the former is almost purely about numbers and branding. To build a community, focus on quality rather than quantity of followers. This may include reaching out to consumers on an individual basis with exclusive and customized offers.
Don’t: Make It Solely About Numbers
Accumulating a social media following is absolutely fine and encouraged. However, this should be a separate campaign from your event community management. You can have a broader social media presence that caters to your general audience. On the side, build a stronger inner-circle community consisting of past event guests, repeat customers, loyalty members, and other high-profile members.
- Social Media Monitoring
Do: Appoint a Social Media Appointee
Designate at least one staff member to monitor all social media activity. This appointee is responsible for:
- Updating all social media channels
- Encouraging use of the event hashtag
- Making event-related announcements
- Responding to questions and comments
- Managing social media contests and associated prizes and giveaways
Don’t: Be a Social Media Police
With any social media presence, there’s going to be the occasional troll. Unless messages are offensive in nature, do not block anyone from sharing their opinion, even if it’s negative towards your company. If it’s a grievance regarding a past event, invite the commenter to a private Skype chat to sort out the problem.
Let event members spark discussion on their own. If exchanges become a bit heated, feel free to jump in, but allow the discussion to run its course. Online debates are normal, so don’t attempt to censor anyone for having an unpopular opinion or input.
- Post-Event Activity
Do: Share Your Analytics with the Community
After the event, thank everyone who attended and share the numbers. Give a breakdown of how many people attended, how many copies of the launched product was sold, etc. Sharing numbers that are normally intended for internal staff is a great show of transparency. Feel free to share other good news, such as the event hashtag becoming a top trend, or event streaming views reaching an all-time high.
Don’t: Peddle Your Brand
The event just ended less than 24-hours ago. Follow up with social media posts, videos, and other content. However, don’t go into promotion mode and start pushing your followers to purchase tickets for the next event or pushing the products promoted at the event.
Let the dust settle a bit; during this time, send non-promotional and informative posts, which may include post-event surveys, a social media contest, or funny event-related memes and GIFs. After several days go by, go ahead and lightly promote the brand.
- Diversify Your Outreach
Do: Use Multiple Social Media Channels
Your community shouldn’t exist on a single medium. Start a group through various social media platforms, including forums, or even via live get-togethers. Once you have built multiple communities through different outlets, have these different groups come together by encouraging greater networking. The goal is to build a web of communities that form a bigger collective as a single entity.
Don’t: Rely on a Single Platform
Don’t stick solely to Facebook, Twitter, or the bigger social network outlets. While those have the largest user base, other sites have a smaller, more niche-specific demographic. Consider sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, or networks that cater to a particular industry. You may use Facebook or Twitter as the main hub and direct all other communities to the main community page.
It doesn’t take an army to manage an online event community. It does, however, require consistency and sending out the right type of content. If you play your cards right, you’ll create a connection with your members that foster brand loyalty and advocacy.
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About the Author
Dan McCarthy is an Event Manager at Venueseeker, an event management company based in the UK. Dan has 5 years of event project management under his belt. He has worked on many successful events, and currently, e shares his knowledge by writing on the company blog. Follow him on Twitter @DanCarthy2.