So your event had great attendance and you saw a surge in membership. Feedback was positive and you feel triumphant. Great! Now what? What happens next is sometimes…well, not much.
After the excitement of your event, it’s easy for people go back to their regular routines and forget about your organization. The crickets start to chirp on your social media feeds. Email opens and click-through rates drop. People just aren’t engaging like they did in person.
If you can keep the momentum going, people will continue to engage, connect, and work toward your mission over the long haul. Even better, it will be easier to get them to register for your event next year. How can you do all this? You need a comprehensive engagement plan.
Here are Five strategies to maintain the community, camaraderie, inspiration, and engagement of your event all year long.
Use marketing automation
The Association Engagement Survey with Access Intelligence suggests that your event attendees are the most engaged people in your organization. These individuals are already convinced of your value and will need less attention throughout the year. New prospects, by contrast, will need to be informed, inspired, and reassured before they take action. To communicate effectively with all your audience segments, you’ll need to personalize your campaigns and align them with the buying cycle. A marketing automation platform, such as Informz, can help. Informz lets you create, schedule, personalize, and track your campaigns to ensure timely, relevant communications before, during, and after your event.
Get more face time
Supplement annual national events with smaller regional affairs throughout the year. This might mean you host mini conferences or workshops in a few centrally located cities. It could also be much simpler. Consider sponsoring a team for a 5k or organizing a neighborhood cleanup day. These simple events can facilitate powerful connections among members by bringing them together for a common cause. If all else fails, organize regional happy hours for some liquid inspiration. More face time equals more opportunities to connect and engage.
Build online communities
It’s not enough to have a social media presence. People need to interact—with each other and with your organization. Post a mix of original content, quizzes, motion graphics, videos, live streaming, affiliate articles and information, and promotional ads. But don’t stop there. Pose open-ended questions to encourage conversation, and be sure to respond when people ask you questions. In addition to social media, consider other year-round networking opportunities using your event’s mobile app, a LISTSERVE, Basecamp, or other platforms that facilitate connection and idea-sharing.
Recruit brand ambassadors
Gather your pilgrims, your most devoted members and attendees. Ask them to promote your event and your year-round offerings in their own circles, online and off. Give them an opportunity to share their experiences through member-curated stories and testimonials. Create a referral program with incentives to attract likeminded colleagues. For example, you could craft an email that’s meant to be forwarded to a friend. Offer a free online workshop for joining as a new member and give one to the member who made the referral. Your brand ambassadors put their reputation on the line by promoting your organization. Reward their loyalty with recognition and the occasional goody.
Encourage audience participation
People feel more engaged in your organization and your event if they have a say in the decision-making process. Ask for input on anything from the event theme to the food you serve and the music you play. Take a poll on which speakers to invite. Ask for volunteers to serve on committees or teach sessions. The more deeply people get involved, the more likely they are to become brand ambassadors and repeat attendees.
For year-round engagement, people need to hear from you on a regular basis. But that’s just the first step. They need personalized communications and face-to-face opportunities that offer value, reinforce connections, maintain the momentum of your event, and enable their goals. Go beyond an event marketing strategy. Sustain your organization 365 days a year with a comprehensive engagement plan.
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