How do you create a community around your events?

Just wanted to put this thought up for discussion as I find quite an interesting one and would love to know what you think.

We all put in a lot of hard work, time and effort getting people to our events, and people in general attend events because they all share a common interest that they want to engage with. But after the event happens and everyone goes home, how do keep your hard earned attendees engaged and ready for the next event?
How do you keep that engagement in a shared interest alive during the time between events?
Can you sustain a growing event without a strong community?

One tactic I have tried is getting people to make some sort of a commitment at the end of the event .

Of course this depends on what type of event it is . But if applicable maybe give them a few choices of things they will do differently now as a result of attending . Let them indicate ( anonymously - could be just putting a token in a box - or sticking a dot on the wall ) what they will be doing, Then you have a good hook for doing follow up communications. e.g 40% of you said you would be doing x - have you done this yet ? Maybe a story from one attendee who has done that action - that also gives an excuse for creating a forum where people can talk about the actions .

Then that takes you on a path to the next event. Hopefully people feel more engaged and connected to come again to learn more - and encourage others to attend. It can give a sense of purpose and empowerment -’ 25% of us said we would do this - we have changed our city - what will be do next ’ that type of thing. I don’t do this enough as I am normally organising events in my spare time but when I have it has worked well. It is not very labour intensive - just takes a bit of planning before hand.

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Great idea! I often find it’s easy to come away from an event feeling driven/inspired, but this feeling usually fades quite quickly. I really like that idea of making them quantify the value of the event afterwards in some way, and making them feel accountable post event in the longer term. Plus, as you say, it provides great content for follow up communications.

Have you been able to measure the word of mouth effect this engagement has had on your attendee numbers?

Hi Nick,

The best way to engage constantly with your audience is content marketing. You should start creating blog posts that are valuable for your target audience. You can use that posts also as a fuel for your social media posts. Once starting that your audience will adore you, as well as you may get some new audience by social media, paid search and organic. So that’s a total win-win scenario. But you have to have a strategy as well as to be consistent for a long period of time.

All the best

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Make the audience feel appreciated. We have a Facebook group page that attendees have joined over the years and throughout the year we engage with them in this group. We ask them about bands appearing, bands they have seen that could be good for the festival. We ask them about different charities to support. We ask them what type of alcoholic drink they prefer. Always engaging with the fans on a daily basis through the whole year (we are an annual 3 day event) is what makes them come back. Having a group that stamps out spam posts, unsolicited etc means they won’t switch off notifications. We also then ask the 1,600 fans in our private group to share, comment and like a post that we put on our main page explaining that by them engaging, they help our reach and help their festival grow. It works very well as the whole group become our street team. They feel like they belong as we often refer to the festival as being their festival. Next year we are introducing a loyalty membership card to give them even more of a voice. It will give them votes on who we should book, longer time for early bird discounts, merch deals and much more. Sort of a shareholders card. Haven’t worked it all out properly yet but its definitely something we will do as 2019 will be our 5th anniversary and we want to make a big impact. We need our attendees from the first 4 years to be guaranteed to buy tickets for year 5. Each year so far, 25% of ticket sales have been made during the festival for the following year by people at the festival. We want this to increase to 50% by 2019. The feeling of belonging is what makes our festival a success.

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I like the idea of joining them up as “members” to really make them feel part of something and make it more than a one-off event.

@Belinda_Booker we have 8 music festivals the same weekend as us just within a 20 mile radius. Then there are others dotted around the UK as its the late May bank holiday (Whitsun week) so kids are broken up from school and people are free that weekend. So we need a way to guarantee they come back to us before looking elsewhere. Its definitely one of the toughest weekends of the year for music festivals!

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I organised our 1st Yoga convention and invited 70 International teachers April 2017 . I linked them all together before the event and opened an FB page. Each teacher introduced themselves to the group and things started to develop. It was my first event linking every one together proved to be a good move, people from all over the world became friends even before the actual event , we became a community from the start. One of the main things that was felt during and after the event was the sense of feeling like family, the result being that 80% of the teachers now collaborate and organize yoga retreats globally. The fb page is still being used by everyone, its a place where we exchange ideas and promote each others events . We also have a closed page where we basically just have fun. The whole idea was to bring people together which incidentally is what the word Yoga means. Sometimes you have to think humanistically rather than too business like…think about it , the more happy people are the more they talk , the more they talk the more they promote without any prompting making the next years event easier to sell, they are effectively doing it for you. I believe you should always keep a relationship going with past attendees in order to keep the momentum going …the event if its a good one will always be talked about and at least one member of an event team should have a role that is dedicated to maintaining a good relationship.

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It’s really encouraging to hear of another thriving community created around an event - it shows it is possible to unify people with a common interest, if it’s something they’re passionate enough about. Maybe you and @Jay have had such success because the events you organised are about lifestyle? Would people be so bothered about logging onto Facebook to chat about plumbing or accounting? I think it can be really challenging to create long lasting communities around trade events. Has anyone here successfully done that?

It is hard to imagine but not impossible, im sure there is a plumbers or accountant monthy magazine out there on the shelves of WH Smiths or online. Im sure there are certain forums for people in both industries. This says to me that there is something to talk about we can have fb pages for anything. If there is a common intrest then there is a whole wealth of things that can be done. Wether lifestyle or industry there are so many things that would make such a platform sucessful. If something is there it will be used. I dont want to bore everyone about society but modernisation moves so fast, different methods , tools , advancement of computers, phone aplications, problem solving tips are all there to be seen and ever changing , there is a lot to discuss and share. Whatever the subject is there is intrest its all about putting quality into the content, stimulating people asking questions , promting answers . The key is to invite everybody in …once they are in then the momentum and discusions will flow. Its admin who has to be the eyes and ears, like a conductor of an orchestra he can keep things entertaining and intresting , once one topic starts to tail off start another .

Yes that’s true. This, after all, is an industry community and that is exactly what we’re trying to do here. To make it work I think you’ve just got to be prepared to put the time, effort and resorces :slight_smile: