EventsHow Do You Keep Community All Year Long?

How Do You Keep Community All Year Long?


Community—and your business value—isn’t a 48-hour thing.

How do you think our event participants define what a successful event is? A “not bad” buffet? Conference rooms without lightning that doesn’t make everyone look like a vampire? Not even reliable on-site WiFi is what really delights them. Paying attention to those details is important, but at the heart of the matter, a high-quality event is about us delivering information and connections—real value—to the community when they need it.

We’ve grown significantly in how we can deliver for community. Events used to have a clear beginning and end: a daylong meeting, a weekend retreat, maybe a weeklong conference. Once the internet became a widespread and reliable tool, we added complementary webinars and networking meetups. This was so valuable that it is clear that a single event once a year cannot fulfill the needs of a community.

Now, we’re reexamining again. Multiple events are great—except disparate platforms mean we’re not delivering a common experience to our attendees. True and lasting community happens when there is both regular and equal contact. Thanks to the event industry’s hybrid revolution, we can make it happen. Using a mix of in-person and virtual situations—e.g., trade shows, announcements, webinars, trainings—on a single platform, we reach everyone repeatedly and in a common way. We deliver information and connections when our community needs them, and we already have their attention when we want to drop something surprising.

These yearlong events don’t necessarily stretch January 1 to December 31 or fiscal year start to end. By “yearlong,” we mean an ongoing series that stretches over a substantial amount of time and whose diverse events are accessible as a common experience for a single, but hopefully growing, audience. These elements—ongoing, diverse, on a single platform for a single type of audience that is also accessible and inclusive to new like minds—turn your event from stagnant to transformational, your participants from an audience into a community, and the business your event promotes from transactional to substantive in your community’s lives.

 

Enjoy the benefits.

There are a lot of reasons to explore hosting a yearlong event. Here are just some.

  • Single source of data: Each event you host generates its own set of data, which is valuable, but also time-consuming and labor-intensive to manage. Even though a year-round event is technically multiple events, it is experienced as one event, bound by the single participating community. Data from it allows you to quickly connect with hot leads that your sales team can quickly follow up.
  • More frequent engagement: You keep your relationships warm and increase your business value because your community is always active.
  • Single platform: By using one platform, you can quickly identify speakers who were popular and successful and repurpose their content, so your community is always connected with you and your extended team’s offerings.
  • Data-driven improvement: Each individual event is part of a whole. Data- and AI-driven recommendations based on user activity and engagement help you improve from week to week, not year to year as you might with the old way of annual gatherings.

Get started with these tips.

Keep these points in mind as you explore this new frontier in event management.

  • Align the cadence and type of events to the needs of your community and your business objectives. For example, if your community needs education and self-improvement, host a series of webinars, and do so frequently. If your community needs business connections, host intimate networking and meetings at a less frequent pace.
  • Plan for one or two bigger, cornerstone events, and use smaller events to lead into and build the hype for the larger events.
  • Remember that yearlong events are actually year-round communities, so make sure to create a place for your community to engage, share their feedback, and find what they need when they want it—always.
  • Be kind to your team. This level of consistent engagement can be taxing on the organizers, so reuse some of your best content. You also can break a longer session, seminar, or webinar into several smaller pieces and release each as its own installment.

Instead of a single event with lead up and follow up, imagine your job as fostering year-round community. Reimagine your events as one collective and improve them for stakeholders, VIPs, and participants alike.





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