If you’re thinking that it’s time you started to take online community building for your business seriously, trust us, you’re not the only one. In the past few years, there’s been a rapid increase in the popularity and importance of online communities for businesses. In fact, since the pandemic, there’s been an 81% increase in online community engagement.
A well-branded and supported online community can help a business boost its sales and brand awareness. Online communities also act as independent marketing channels for organizers and can help them improve products/services. Furthermore, according to a study, about 85% of business owners believe their community positively impacts their business.
One of the most effective ways to build an online community around your products/services is by using virtual events. They provide an engaging and streamlined way for people separated by great geographical distances to come together and be a part of an event. And due to their ability to reach a far wider audience than physical events, as well as their emphasis on data gathering, virtual events are a perfect way to build online communities.
In this blog we cover the steps you need to take in order to build a powerful community with virtual events.
1. Pen down your plan
The first step to develop a strategy for your online community is to clearly define your goals and expectations. If you know what you want out of your community, you can steer it in the right direction. While devising your online community plan, focus on keeping your community members engaged for an extended period of time. To that end, planning the event journey for your members before, during, and after your virtual event is the smarter move. Finally, you also need to identify your ideal community members and the best way to interact with them.
With the right event platform, you can keep your members engaged before, during, and even after the event. Event platforms offer new and exciting ways for community members to interact with each other. You can host engaging sessions such as AMAs and member spotlights to keep them interested. Furthermore, event platforms provide in-depth audience engagement insights and other crucial bits of data in one place. The data can then help you improve your strategy and host more engaging events in the future.
2. Customize and brand your event for the community
Your events should have the same personality and branding as your organization. To build a thriving online community around your events, your community members need to feel like they belong to a common group. Carefully customizing and branding your events gives your members a sense of community. Not only will proper branding help you build a better online community around your events, but it will also help you quickly onboard members. As an added bonus, if your events have a strong brand personality, potential sponsors will flock toward your experiences.
3. Empower members to connect organically with Enhanced Session Layout
One of the biggest draws of in-person events is that attendees can bump into people at any turn. Meeting new people who operate on the same bandwidth as you is an inexplicable feeling that drives excitement for in-person events. People crave a sense of belonging; they seek meaningful interactions with their peers. And with an enhanced session layout, you can recreate the good chaos of in-person events for virtual events. Your members can come together at a virtual table in smaller groups and connect and interact organically. Members also have the flexibility to move between tables in search of people who are more aligned with their way of thinking.
4. Deliver a shared social watching experience with Watch Parties
Most people join online communities because they want shared experiences with other people. Watch Parties are a very effective way to bring community members together. Your community members can watch online sessions together and interact with one another as if they were sharing a physical space. With emojis, live chat, and other features, Watch Parties provide a highly engaging social viewing experience and keep your community members engaged.
5. Give new avenues to interact with Interaction Panel
Interactions are a big part of any online community. To elevate online sessions from simply being one-person-talks-and-the-rest-just-listen to an engaging give-and-take of ideas, virtual event platforms offer a host of features and tools. The Interaction Panel lets your members communicate with quick chats, emoji reactions, and polls. Quick Chats are a great tool to drive conversations around your products/services. They appear as overlays on the attendee’s profile image making for easy connection and discovery.
6. Make interactions lively with emojis and GIFs
Even the most boring online interactions can be livened up with a few well-placed emojis and GIFs. An online community is simply more fun when people have the freedom to express themselves. Virtual event platforms provide a large assortment of emojis, stickers, and GIFs that community members can use during live sessions and personal chats.
7. Encourage participation with live activity feeds
One of the biggest barriers to entry for people in online communities is how daunting it can be to start a conversation with someone you don’t know. With a live activity feed, new members can see everything happening in the community and join in on conversations they feel comfortable with. Furthermore, when people see others interacting on live activity feeds, they gradually overcome their hesitation and inhibitions to start participating.
8. Plan fun activities, games, and contests
The best way to keep a community engaged is to keep giving them new things to do and participate in. Planning interesting activities keeps regular and frequent community members engaged and gives casual members a reason to return. From unique community games to fun quizzes and polls, you can plan plenty of experiences for your members. Also, don’t be afraid to shake things up and try new things! Not all activities have to be events-based. Instead, you can host trivia nights, pop-culture quizzes, online multiplayer game nights, and other such events.
9. Use Q&A to answer the most popular queries
Your community members want to feel heard, and it can be very frustrating when community managers don’t reply to their queries or reply late. Responding to the questions in real-time with live Q&A sessions helps your community members find quick resolutions to their problems and confirms your commitment to the community. You can also highlight and answer the most popular queries on the virtual main stage, which can help someone look for those answers later.
10. Assign moderators and reply to queries faster
Most members seek ideas and answers from other users to get the most out of your product/service. An effective way to provide these answers is by assigning moderators to answer common queries faster. Answers from moderators within the community inspire greater trust in the brand. You may even find that your most engaged community members are interested in becoming voluntary mods.
11. Collect audience feedback with Interactive Polls
The relationship between your brand and your community needs to be of a give-and-take nature. While you provide them with answers to their queries, they should be able to provide you with valuable feedback. Customer opinions on new event segments, choice of speakers, and product/service can be of great use to you. You can run interactive live polls and surveys during the event to collect feedback in real-time during events.
12. Enable networking and learning
Your users want to develop their professional skills and product expertise as well as network with mentors and industry experts in your community. With dedicated networking lounges, your members can network seamlessly with each other. You can also offer CPE credits and certifications to participants who complete training workshops at your virtual event.
13. Capture event highlights to promote on social media
Photos trigger excitement! Members feel valued when included in community photographs. Getting pictures with the attendees at any in-person event is indeed an exciting experience. Virtual events provide ample opportunities for these memorable photo sessions as well. One of the most popular elements of online sessions is group portraits. Virtual event tools provide built-in features for session organizers to take group photographs with all the attendees. There are plenty of frames and filters to choose from as well, and the possibilities for some post-shoot editing are endless. Your members are also more likely to share these photos on social media, generating free publicity for your event. You can also integrate virtual photo booths and social walls into the overall experience.
14. Use leaderboards to reward your most active members
It is vital to reward participation to continue the momentum. With leaderboards, you can reward the most active members in your community. Leaderboards can also help you drive engagement in key event areas. You can consider things such as comments and likes in while putting leaderboards together or customize the points system to match your goals for the event engagement
15. Sustain communication post-event
Keep your attendees engaged even after the event and make them a part of your community. By communicating with them after the event and educating them on how joining your community can benefit them, you maintain the relationship being built within the platform. You can send customized, automated emails asking attendees to participate in your community.and share survey forms to collect feedback.
You can build a strong online community with the right event technology and strategies. Engage your customers and users to scale growth and surpass competitors through the power of cultivating relationships with your audience
Boost real-time audience interactions and engagement with Hubilo
Hubilo offers everything you need to create interactive, engaging virtual events. We offer the industry’s largest engagement suite. Our immersive session layout mimics the experience of in-person events in a virtual setup. Most importantly, Hubilo helps you deliver interactive and engaging brand experiences to build online communities. Talk to us and learn how you can achieve your business goals and generate revenue through events.