Both online communities and online events share a very big similarity, they bring people together around a common interest.
Given that 54% of customers say companies need to transform how they engage with them, online events can be a real differentiator away from the usual methods of digital marketing.
This allows brands to connect with their community on a personal level, critical for building long and meaningful relationships, and even more critical considering how difficult it is for brands to stand out in a crowded marketplace.
Naturally, online events create experiences allowing you to cut through the noise, build trust, and really connect with your community on a personal level. To help get you and your business started, here are 10 types of online events that you can run to build an online community.
Looking for tips on how to create a sense of community at any online event? Follow these 5 simple steps on how to turn attendees into loyal brand advocates.
First up, is the virtual summit, a type of collaborative online event where speakers present their work, usually via a presentation, and talk about a specific topic to an online audience, conveying noteworthy information to them. Generally speaking, virtual summits last for a number of days, anything between 3 to 10 days, and on average have around 30 guest speakers.
The benefits to a virtual summit are twofold, the host gets more credibility and authority, helping them to gain prominence as a reputable player in their industry. And for attendees, who gain access to valuable content that will serve as a source of knowledge and education.
Arguably the first thing that springs to mind when someone hears ‘virtual event,’ online conferences are a like for like representation of their physical counterparts. As to be expected, this comes with multiple speakers, different areas for live and on-demand content, plus multiple areas designed to replicate a large conference venue, such as virtual chillout rooms, networking, and entertainment activities.
This is the most ambitious kind of virtual event and they have the scope to be the most creative and impactful. That’s why it’s crucial to have the attendee in mind when designing the different offerings and experiences so that you create something that is both authentic and meaningful.
Online workshops are a great way to deliver practical, hands-on training while keeping attendees engaged and interested. Workshops usually last anywhere from 30-minutes to 3 hours, making them short and easily accessible to people who are working. Moreover, they typically involve audience participation, through audience engagement software such as Slido, Mentimeter or Sparkup, which maintains attention and tests any newly-learnt knowledge.
A great way to make your workshop or training session more engaging is to use a host or make the workshop sessions smaller, aim anywhere between 10 and 70 attendees, and for those on the larger side, be sure to have breakout rooms on offer to add more of a personal touch.
Virtual Networking Events
Virtual networking allows attendees to meet with like-minded professionals and more importantly, discuss your event and the content that it’s based on. This can vary from having a ‘room’ for attendees to go to, to creating one-to-one networking slots, whereby attendees can schedule meetings.
As a general rule of thumb, make sure to find a virtual events platform that is easy to use and aesthetically pleasing, that way you can be sure that attendees will be more likely to spend time chatting and will be more likely to bond with other attendees, making it much easier to create a sense of community.
Read these tips for more guidance on how to run networking at an online event.
An online festival is a mix of content and experiences. Sessions are split between an academic program, with keynotes, workshops, and everything else you’d expect from an online event, and a social program, with different types of online experiences which are all about letting your hair down and interacting with other attendees.
Compared to webinars and online events which are focused on content, online festivals are more immersive and come with added entertainment and interaction from the experiences. This can include yoga and meditation, dance classes, virtual cocktails, one-on-one networking, group discussions, and anything else that you have in mind, so get creative with it!
A virtual exhibition enables attendees to immerse themselves in a variety of content that can be explored on-demand, often forming part of a larger event. This can vary from informative one-page fliers or checklists to virtual booths and interactive rooms with extra-curricular activities.
An online exhibition should expand on information presented at – or generate interest in – the content that attendees will engage in on the virtual stage, providing them with some added extras. With this in mind, make the virtual exhibitions on offer as relevant, immersive and tangible as possible.
Just like its physical counterpart, the aim of a roadshow is to spark interest and excitement around a product or offering by taking it to the ‘virtual road’ to increase brand awareness and product knowledge. With no travelling involved, virtual roadshows use conferencing tools to showcase the very same content, just this time around it’s done online.
The main content, in the form of a presentation, can still be customised towards a specific location, and then you’ll also want to consider adding Q&As and networking to connect with your audience.
Synonymous with the social community platform Reddit, Ask Me Anythings, are a great chance to open up and answer any of their questions. This format breathes new life into the usual content that we’ve come accustomed to seeing with virtual events.
Done well, an AMA session can boost engagement and transparency with your community, and allow them to get to know your brand on a more personal level. For this reason, choose someone from your team whose insightful and passionate enough to captivate your audience and is also able to hold their own when any difficult questions are through their way.
Online Fireside Chats
Looking to break down the barriers between you and your community? Consider running online fireside chats. This is an informal interview with a guest speaker and moderator which can either be an event in itself or an add-on session for a virtual conference or summit. The main perk to this format is that attendees can get up close and personal with a speaker in a more intimate setting.
To enhance the experience think about offering live polling along with a Q&A session through audience interaction software. This will break down any barriers between your audience and the speaker by creating a more engaging and personal environment.
If you’re looking to offer something that goes beyond the usual content that’s come to be expected of online events then consider serving up some entertainment. This can be served either as a standalone or an add-on to your event and can come in a variety of different formats.
Everything and anything from live concerts and stand up comedy to virtual scavenger hunts and photo booths can be used to wow your attendees. The purpose of these activities is to help attendees build relationships by participating in and experiencing something together. Remember, technology is your friend here, so use it to its full potential.
As you can see, there are plenty of online event formats that can be used to build and nurture a community. They all share the same objective, bringing people together around a common interest, however, each one still has its own use case. Remember, that a lot of these events can be offered either as a standalone event or as an add-on to a bigger conference or summit.