How to Create Community at Your Events
Arriving at an event full of unfamiliar faces can be overwhelming. As our culture becomes increasingly dependent upon social media, the desire and need to seek out in-person interaction has changed. According to a 2018 study, which consisted of ten years’ worth of the American Time Use Surveys conducted by the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, revealed that millennials spent 70 percent more time at home than the rest of the country.
With millennials opting for Seamless and Netflix instead of a night out on the town, business owners are being pushed to consider new strategies for targeting homebodies between the ages of 18-35. While this may sound like an event organizer’s worst nightmare, take heed in the prevailing millennial trait: authenticity.
Millennials are known for valuing authenticity and prefer to express themselves genuinely while avoiding surface level interactions. Eventbrite recently released a study that showed ¾ millennials prefer experiences over things. So, how can all this help an event organizer?
Encouraging authentic connections at your event will make a huge difference in attendance. Community is key for targeting not just millennials, but any demographic. Here’s how to create community at your event.
Create an experience
As previously stated, millennials value experiences over things. If your event is lack luster or not intriguing enough for someone who might have to travel to attend, they’re more likely to skip all together. Make an effort to create the type of experience your attendees can’t resist. Consider choosing a popular location, perhaps a city that has a lot to offer in terms of culture and nightlife. When they check to see where your event is taking place, they’ll be more likely to attend if it’s a city or town they’ve been wanting to visit. For the venue itself, look into unique spaces that make for a cool picture. It’s no secret that millennials love sharing their experiences with friends and followers, so choose a space that they will be excited to photograph and share online.
If an event is particularly attention grabbing, people are more likely to send the information to their friends or colleagues and ask if they’d like to go together. As social beings, humans want to share experiences with one another. Create an event that is so intriguing that your attendees will immediately say to their peers, “This looks really exciting, want to go with me?”
Blend business with leisure
Now a days, the lines between work and leisure are becoming blurred. Why? Because adults today are more likely to choose meaningful work and therefore don’t have a typical 9-5 cutoff. Their work is their passion and they never turn off the work “switch”. This also means your attendees will be more likely to want to network and connect with other attendees who align with their work mission.
Chances are, your event will attract attendees who are apart of the same community. Hone in on this by creating activities that allow for networking. If you’re putting up VIPs in a hotel, consider creating an agenda for them so they can meet each other. Whether it’s cocktails at the hotel bar, a walking tour of the city, or a talk lead by an influencer, the opportunity to organically meet and connect with like-minded professionals will make their experience at your event that much more enriching. Better yet, once your VIPs are confirmed to attend your event, send out an email that includes a brief bio of each VIP. This will further inspire any potential VIPs to take the leap and commit to attending.
Consider workshops per industry
If you’re aware of the types of professionals attending your event, consider holding workshops for each industry they’re in. Walking into a conference or trade show full of strangers is daunting, but if you create workshops or breakout groups that target specific niches within the industry’s community, attendees will feel a sense of familiarity and comradery. If your event is targeted towards the tech industry, hold workshops for software developers, analysts, programmers, robotic engineers, etc. Creating an environment in which your attendees will feel inspired to connect with others is key.
Encourage the sense of community online
Before your event even happens, create a sense of community on your social media platforms. Encourage your followers to share your event with their friends. Hold giveaways that require followers to tag friends in the comments section in order to participate. Have a raffle that offers special VIP services to an attendee and their friend. If your event requires ticket sales, offer a discounted rate to groups. The goal is to get across the message that your event is ideal for friends and colleagues to attend together.
Use word-of-mouth marketing
Lastly, the best way to encourage community in an authentic way is to use word-of-mouth marketing. Consider it for yourself, would you be more inspired to attend an event if a friend recommended it or if you saw an ad online? Word-of-mouth marketing is 2-3x more effective than standard marketing approaches because it’s authentic. Millennials are becoming increasingly deterred by ads that try too hard and are 115% more likely to be influenced by word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth marketing speaks to their desire for realness by swapping ads for honest recommendations from people they already know.
When one attendee uses InGo to sign up for your event, you’re able to reach their entire network of connections in an organic way. InGo shows attendees which of their friends, colleagues, peers, and fellow industry professionals are also attending, allowing them to rekindle old connections while establishing new ones. With InGo’s new notification function, attendees are updated when someone in their network registers for the same event.* This helps to continue engagement with the event as it approaches and creates excitement whenever the attendee receives a notification that a friend, colleague, or influencer has also registered. Instead of signing up and forgetting about the event, they’re reminded that it’s coming up and can look forward to the meaningful connections that will also be there.
Experiencing an event with fellow industry leaders can mean the difference in an attendee deciding to register or not. With the proven efficacy of word-of-mouth marketing, InGo is the place to begin your journey in authentic marketing. Try our demo today.
*Attendees must meet the necessary requirements for receiving updates. Attendees will receive up to seven updates when someone in their network registers for the same event.