As part of our community management/expert engagement programs, we have an established events program as well. This currently consists of annual in-person events, quarterly online tech events, and monthly educational events. I've been tasked with re-evaluating the current events program portfolio and to start with defining an events strategy. I see this strategy as almost starting fresh by evaluating what we have done in the past, what's working, what's no longer applicable (e.g., objectives have morphed over time), etc.
Have any of you created an events strategy? Any tips, best practices, ideas, etc.?
I started by outlining the key components of the strategy (the whos, whats, whens, etc.) and the general approach to getting from point A to point B. But, there's a lot in between those points and I am hoping someone has some good ideas. 🙂
@Natalie-B we have a cadence of community events that sounds somewhat like what you’ve outlined. Our events range from Google hangouts to our large, annual, customer conference, LiNC (Lithium Network Conference) that we think of as our biggest offline community event. Our most important events around community management/expert engagement are our Lithium Stars events that culminate in two bi-annual in-person events – one at Lithium HQ (this week) and the other at our LiNC Conference. The Lithium Stars are part of of our super user program - the core of active, passionate users who define our community.
There’s a clear affinity between community and events - communities benefit from a face-to-face element that create better connections than meeting exclusively online. In terms of a more formal community events strategy, that’s something we too are working on.
Here are some of the things that we’re considering in the discovery & assessment phase of our community event strategy:
Another related initiative we're now working towards is forming a community council – an effort being lead by our Community Manager, Jenn Chen, @JennC and Lithium Senior Consultant, Charlotte Kubler, @CharlotteK. We hope to leverage the passion of community managers and other community participants by sharing stories and experiences, while creating opportunities for them to learn from one another across different industries and cultures. Ultimately, it will be a mix of online – webinar & hangouts - and offline events around specific themes with content assets available on our community.
We’re still finalizing the details of the program - definition, scope and organization - and determining specific roles and responsibilities, and defining what success looks like in terms of measurement. I’m sure there will be some experimenting and A/B testing as part of the process too. So, while it’s not a yet a concise strategy, it’s how we’re approaching community events and it's aimed at growing the community managment practice by leveraging and empowering customer stories and experiences.
Hey @Natalie-B! @RichRe already made some good points, but I thought I'd jump in and offer my two cents I think the important thing to do when starting an events or community strategy is to consider what your business objective are first. What is the company or business trying to accomplish? What is your team looking to do within the next year? Your events should revolve around and seek to meet those objectives in some way.
You've already made a good start in evaluating past objectives! As a community manager, I think it's tempting and easy at times to get wrapped up in the details. That's not always a bad thing, but it also helps to zoom out and see the bigger picture. To do this, I would suggest having everything on a Google doc/sheet--one tab for past events, one for current, etc. You can list the event, what objective it supports, next steps, timeline, who's involved, and anything else you need to note. For me, it helps having everything on one page/doc, so that I can see at a glance what's going on. Two other advantages are that you can continue to add on events as creativity/inspiration strikes, and that you can share the doc/sheet with your manager or key stakeholders.
Hope that helps, and good luck crafting your events strategy!
Jenn - you are absolutely right about getting focused (in this case, lost) in the details. And I love your idea of keeping track of events, objectives, etc., within one sheet for easy reference.
Thanks again to both of you!
Hey @Natalie-B, hope you don't mind if I chime in for @RichRe. In terms of strategy, it can take about a quarter to nail down, longer if there are changes, say in initiatives, goals, stakeholders, etc. It's easy to want to jump in right away and get started, but remember, a good strategy can take time to iron out. Make sure your manager and key stakeholders are involved as the strategy develops, so that you're headed in the right direction and can get approval when needed.