How a Thriving Online Community Benefits Your Online Event - Ifairs
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How a Thriving Online Community Benefits Your Online Event

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These days, online communities are all the rage and this is especially true regarding the events industry. More and more event planners are waking up to the benefits of a branded online community and seek to harness them for elevated success.

Cultivating your own online community is a great way to establish continuous engagement with your target audience and customers, and this is a great way to increase your ROI when hosting an online event. But establishing and nurturing such a community is not easy. So in this blog post, we will set you on the right path to establishing such a community of your own, and explain how that will benefit your virtual events going forward. 

Laying the foundations for an online community

First off, we need to define what an online community is. It is a group of people who regularly are in contact with each other and who engage with the same topics in a designated virtual space. 

The definition is simple, but starting such a community is no simple task. You require community members for this to succeed. So you should start with figuring out a target audience you want to direct your efforts on. 

Once you’ve done that, you need to keep in mind that everybody who participates in a community does so due to their own, individual reasons. Pinpointing the group is therefore not enough. You need to find a myriad of threads that will bring the group together. 

Here you can think about which passions, goals, hobbies, and interests they have. 

Generally, it is the easiest to bring a group of people together who lack a “home”. People who need a virtual space to congregate will automatically be looking for one, and if you’re offering it, they will be inclined to gravitate towards you. 

You also need to make sure that the goals of your branded community fits the goal of your business. If your community is to be successful, this goal needs to be understood by both your business and the community members. This also helps you make the necessary content you need for various social networks and social media platforms you use to stay in contact with your community.

And lastly, you need to make sure that the community is a safe space for everyone involved. As an event manager, you probably have experience with this, but its importance on community platforms can’t be understated. 

Keeping track of your community’s growth

In the first section we laid the groundwork for your future online community that’ll help keep your attendees engaged for your virtual meetings and live events. Now we need to keep track of its growth. In truth, it’s more a case of how we keep track of it, and how that relates to what we define as success for the community. 

Generally, you should monitor metrics that align with your company’s overall goals. This can be an increase in product and service sales, online attention, increased attendance for your online event and so on. 

Just be careful with using a single metric to do this. It is almost impossible to accurately describe growth this way. And another warning: don’t just measure raw growth. It is a poor metric for the health of a community. 

What really matters in this instance is whether people stick around, or whether people continuously leave to be replaced by new members. Even if growth in numbers happens in this instance, it is typically a sign that people do not enjoy being in your community and then there’s something you need to fix. Sound community management is in this instance crucial to growth.

The necessary community management skills

Running an online community that provides great online experiences is a continuous effort. To run it successfully, there are a number of skills a community manager needs to possess.

Generally, what we call soft skills are important for community management. This means empathy, the ability to listen and find compromises that pleases as many as possible. 

Remember, any audience you have is going to be very vocal about how they feel, and often what you’ll hear is negative. People who have something to complain about will always be more vocal than the ones who don’t. 

With these people it is important to approach them with understanding. You have to see their point of view and take their criticism to heart. Do your best to help them, and find solutions that can be accepted all across the board.

Just like with general event management, there really is no correct way to do community management, as all communities are inherently different and have their own needs. So you just have to be present, listen, and engage with your community to see what is needed and when. 

Ways to engage your community

If you want to keep your community alive, you need to keep your members engaged and active. It is the central pillar on which every community stands. If there’s no one talking, discussing or interacting with anything, it all falls apart very fast.

This is why it is very important that you know your new members very well. Ask them questions about their demographic, age, location etc. This helps you supply them with material they will find interesting and useful and therefore also engaged. 

Make sure to facilitate and moderate discussions on a regular basis. This keeps people talking and learning more about your products and services, for example. 

Lastly, you can also use FOMO as a tool to your advantage. That is where your virtual events come into the picture. Events take place on a certain time and date irregardless of your members. This will incentivize them to feel excitement or a need to attend, especially if their peers also attend. 

The benefits of having an online community when hosting online conferences

Now we’ve arrived at the golden question: how does an online community benefit you as an event organizer? 

Seeing as engagement is one of the most important metrics for events of any kinds, be they hybrid, virtual og in-person invents, having a community is useful. This is because it provides engagement all the time, every day, all year-round. 

In turn, this leads to an increase in revenue of sold products and services, increased customer loyalty, potential brand ambassadors, instantaneous and accurate feedback about products and services from customers, better and more personalized customer support, and an edge over your competitors. 

Final words

Having an online community surrounding your company and brands is an incredibly beneficial affair. Your virtual events will become much more lively and engaging spaces for your target group. This will reflect itself in sales and overall customer satisfaction. 

Before you host your next virtual event, consider setting up your very own online community. Then you maximize its appeal, ROI, and the impact it will leave afterwards.

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