You and your team spent a lot of time and energy either creating a new community or revamping your existing community. It’s time for celebration -- and getting people online, engaging. There are many ways to energize a community and bring in some fun, from creating exciting banners to hosting offline events.
Conferences are the perfect time to introduce your members to a new or relaunched community. We compiled a list of some of the most successful, fun and creative ways to get your members engaged with the community before, during and after your annual conference. You don’t get everyone’s rapt attention often, so it’s time to make the most of the opportunity.
Here are some of our favorite ideas, ones we’ve either tried or seen other communities successfully pull off:
Have a “Profile Picture Booth” where people get their profile photos taken and can get a quick demo -- now no one will have an excuse for not uploading a profile picture. While they wait for their picture, hand out helpful marketing material with quick instructions for using the community that they can take with them. If possible, it would be great to have some computers where they can login if it’s their first time and staff to assist them.
Set Up an automation rule so that everyone who logs in during or right after the conference receives a digital ribbon saying they attended.
If you had beta testers before your big launch, recognize them in some way, either through ribbons, with an "exclusive" happy hour, or during a session. They’ll feel acknowledge and will probably volunteer again -- and people jealous of their ribbon or happy hour will be incentivised to raise their hands next time.
Ask presenters for additional discussion questions to post on the community to continue the discussion after the conference. Either collect and post these on their behalf or have them do so if they’ll follow through.
Make sure the community URL/name/logo is on every marketing material possible. Conference handbook, posters, slide decks, coasters, napkins—whatever you can get your hands on.
Ensure your whole team knows how to navigate the community and other basics so they can help confused members. They should see themselves as community ambassadors.
Put QR codes on attendee badges so they can easily add each other as contacts via the community. Then give a prize to the person who adds the most contacts. (We hosted an entire webinar on this tactic). Plus, they’ll begin to see the real power of networking in the community.
Ask keynote and breakout speakers to blog about their sessions prior to conference and engage with registrants on social media, like Twitter. This is a good way to promote and show how much valuable content your conference will have.
Create a pre-conference promotion announcement postcard for direct mail. Outline community features that would enhance members’ conference experience, like the directory, discussions, event site, resource library and mobile app.
Promote the community throughout the whole conference registration process: in a registration letter, welcome packet, conference magazine, onsite daily publication, onsite conference program and opening general session shout out.
Start a few discussion posts leading up to the conference. Not only will it build up hype, but people interact with other conference goers before hand. Here are a few question ideas: "Not your first time attending our conference? Share insights and suggestions with new conference goers.", "Share five things about yourself so others can get to know you..", "First-time attendee questions?"
Host a BYOL (Bring Your Own Laptop) session. Start by navigating members through the community on a large screen and then turn it over to them for a hands-on learning session.
Award them with an "early adopter" ribbon when the attendees completed all the tasks. We created an assignment that you can repurpose for them.
Everyone loves swag -- it’s always a conference perk. Create swag that promotes the community — pins, postcards, pens, t-shirts, badges, reusable bags, magnetic chip clips or stickers. Whatever you think would resonate most with your community.
Allow attendees to download conference materials from the community library.
Sure, your conference isn’t specifically about your community site, but you can definitely bring it center stage during your event. Take it as an opportunity to educate -- both that the community exists and how to use it. Now is also a good time to call on your community rock stars and MVPs to help raise awareness -- give them materials to hand out or a sticker on their attendee badge to help people know they’re experts. Ride the conference wave as long as you can, because it has the potential to really pay off for your community.