Three Ways Associations Can Make Events Year-Round Engagements

Tomlinson_Three Ways Associations Can Make Events Year-Round Engagements January 5, 2021 By: Christina Tomlinson

Instead of thinking of events as starting and ending within a few days, consider these three ideas for turning them into year-round engagements that will educate and inspire attendees over the long term.

Events are unique opportunities that can boost member engagement across a diverse range of contexts, but they’re often frozen in time over a few days. Momentum ramps in the lead-up to the event, then everyone goes home, and that’s it— until it’s time to start promoting the next one.

What if you could build on the pre-event momentum your association creates and keep the conversation going to engage, empower, educate, and inspire your membership 365 days a year? While virtual and hybrid events are a start, they too are typically limited in duration. 

Instead, take advantage of the wide-open window of opportunity between each event. Use these three strategies to turn your association events into year-long engagements:

1. Curate and share evergreen (versus time-bound) content on multiple channels. The value of event content doesn’t diminish unless you keep it frozen in time. Key takeaways and insights from sessions can hold as true two days post-event as 352 days after the fact. It’s as simple as rethinking how the content is packaged and when and where it’s shared.

What this looks like:

    • Templates attendees can download with exercises to help them carry learning forward from your event to their own organizations.
    • Video recaps and transcripts of high-level insights from sessions, panel discussions, and contextual commentary. 

    2. Deliver content through targeted email and social-media marketing campaigns. If you limit sharing evergreen content to public channels, you miss out on the opportunity to engage with your audience on an intimate, personalized level. Leverage the member data that lives in your association management system to personalize your email messaging. 

    Take what you know about member behavior (interactions and impressions on social channels, for example) and apply it to build integrated multichannel marketing campaigns around content curated to amplify value for your members.

    What this looks like:

    • Conversational calls to action such as, “share your favorite moments from the event in photos” with a branded hashtag on specific channels (e.g., an event app or microsite, public social media).
    • Key takeaways from sessions in easy-to-download PDF formats.
    • Keynote and leadership highlights in regular newsletter-style mailers to members centered around a strategic theme, such as digital transformation or #futureofwork.

    3. Adopt a conference mobile app and microsite or other tech-enabled community. Event technology is so pervasive your options are virtually limitless. Consider what year-round member engagement is worth to your association: How much bandwidth and budget do you have, and how much could you save with this technology? Use your answers to inform the decision about how to approach adopting a new platform or tool. 

    What this looks like:

      • A digital community at their fingertips.
      • Your association as a trusted resource for relevant information not limited to a single location or timestamp.
      • Curated content by industry, common interest, or topical challenges like member engagement and non-dues revenue generation ideas. 

      By employing these three strategies to turn your conferences into year-round events, your association will likely not only see increased member engagement but also more revenue and sponsorship opportunities.

      Christina Tomlinson

      Christina Tomlinson is vice president of marketing and events at Pathable, an event app and website platform for conferences and tradeshows.