Live events carry a special thrill but what happens when everyone goes home? How can event-holders capture and build on that excitement? A strong online community will allow you to extend the life of an event at both ends – to generate buzz beforehand, and to keep the magic alive long after the physical gathering is finished.
Here are our top social media tips:
When it comes to building an online community, setting goals at the outset is critical. Why do you want to start using social media? What are your unique aims as an event-holder? Knowing what you want will help you determine which social media platforms best suit your needs. To build on this:
1. Choose the social media platforms that make sense for you. Each has unique advantages and disadvantages. For example, Facebook and LinkedIn limit conversational variety. A blog is less connective, but the organiser can guide a conversation. Look to strike a balance across several platforms – budgeting the most time and resources to those that benefit you the most. And don’t rule out more basic strategies. Remember, everyone knows how to use email!
2. Define and use metrics. Too often, event-holders jump into social media without a clear sense of what success will look like. There are now many tools for measuring social media progress. Use them. You need to be able to trace community growth and event success to specific approaches you’ve tried. You also need to know quickly when something isn’t working.
Choosing Your Champion
To new users, online communities might look self-sustaining. They’re not. Facebook, Twitter and the rest all take work, ideally in the form of a dedicated individual who can keep dialogue flowing and seed productive conversations. Some key notes about community management:
1. Know the tone of modern social media. While your community manager doesn’t need to be a “social media addict”, he or she does need to understand how Twitter and Facebook dialogue sound and function. Again: The tone of the community manager is the tone of the organisation.
2. Expect the position to change. Before and after an event, the community manager should plan to be extra-engaged. The job responsibility isn’t static.
You have goals; you have the right person running your social media. Now what specific things can you do to nurture that community?
1. Be your own model participant. Event-holders will take their cues from your lead, both in terms of tone and in the way they treat each other. Establishing a model is the best way to encourage respectful, high-quality engagement.
2. When it comes to content, simply ask. Everyone knows that content is king. But what kind of content? Why not pose the question to your users? It’s a great way to jumpstart the conversation. You could try multiple-choice questions about what kind of content people would like to see, as people like to feel guided. And they’ll feel less intimidated if an opinion has already been offered.
There are plenty of risks that come with an online community. But the consensus is that most of these can be headed off with a few basic tactics.
1. Be clear up front about expected behaviour. Inappropriate online interactions are much more likely to occur when users haven’t had any guidance from organisers. This is where setting a model works well, but defining boundaries early can also be helpful.
2. Realise that events have a unique way of regulating behaviour. One of the great things about live gatherings, from the online community standpoint, is that people simply tend to behave better when they know they’ll later meet in person. It’s just another reason to be a fan of live events!