Spark Community Engagement with a Stronger Virtual Strategy

As people seek new and better ways to link with like-minded peers and learn from industry experts, many see professional associations and their member communities as the best way to forge those connections.

Professionals have long relied on associations for industry knowledge, thought leadership, and networking. Their associations help them learn, grow, and find a sense of belonging. But in an increasingly digital world, their expectations of how associations deliver value are shifting. 

Members no longer want to wait for an annual conference to follow industry trends, expand their knowledge, and network with colleagues. Instead, they're turning to online communities, social media, and virtual events to connect and learn any time of the day and throughout the year. 

Associations can give members more and meet their elevated expectations by stepping outside of their traditional engagement tactics. Strengthening your virtual strategy is the key to delivering more frequent, far-reaching, shared experiences for your community members.

Virtual Event Ideas to Drive Engagement

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Virtual Events Are Vital to Member Engagement 

A bolder, broader approach to virtual events can help your association reach more members, create deeper connections, and deliver enduring value. Virtual events allow you to:

Create a catalyst. Virtual events promote member engagement, inspiring action beyond a single conference. Live and on-demand events and webinars bring members together and repurposed content in the forms of resource downloads and networking sessions keep members continually coming back. 

Deliver a more personalized experience. More frequent virtual events and on-demand recordings allow attendees to seek out and connect with the content most relevant to them at the moment they need it, leading to a more personalized experience and helping them get the most out of each event. 

Increase inclusion and accessibility. Some members can't or won't travel to your in-person events. Offering a cadence of virtual touchpoints ensures you'll reach all your members, and everyone has equal opportunities to access your content and participate in the community. 

Collect powerful data and insights. Members' event attendance and content consumption will help you identify—and continuously deliver—what members want and need. The insights gained from their engagement are powerful tools to help you enhance future event experiences, refine your member value proposition and serve up personalized content.

Virtual Events Deliver More Member Value

Members are looking for more and different solutions from their associations today. Advances in technology have increased their expectations of the digital experience, and a quest for better balance has them asking for more flexibility. Virtual events position you to meet these needs with:

Ease and convenience. Members are short on time and, often, are faced with tightening budgets. Virtual events eliminate the need to travel, which combats those concerns. Plus, virtual allows you to extend your reach across geographies, which increases your opportunities to attract more attendees and forge new connections. 

Answers and education. Members seeking on-demand answers, learning or upskilling, and opportunities to build their networks have a desire to connect now, not later. Virtual events help you deliver what they want when they want it.

Building a Sustainable Virtual Event Strategy

With a strong virtual events strategy, associations have the power to meet members' needs and create significant ROI. But how do you create and maintain a sustainable approach to virtual event engagement?

Leverage your partner ecosystem. The onus to build and deliver compelling virtual events isn't entirely on your internal staff. Look to thought leaders and industry experts. Leverage your vendors and sponsors who can offer knowledge and expertise to enhance your events and content (and create new non-dues revenue opportunities for your association!).

Encourage member contributions. Your members are more eager than you may realize to share their experiences and wisdom. Encourage their collaboration and invite them to contribute as roundtable participants, panelists, moderators, or speakers. 

Make use of your content—over and over again. Your staff, partners, and members are creating valuable, relevant content every day. Get more mileage from it by repurposing conference sessions as on-demand webinars, convening colleagues to discuss research reports, and pivoting social posts to interactive discussions. 

Enabling Your Association's Success

Members don't want another one-way webcast. They want dynamic, captivating, and immersive experiences. The best way to equip your association to execute those events is by investing in the right technology solution. 

A subscription to a robust virtual events platform is a critical part of every association's tech stack. The right technology provides more than just a portal for hosting an online meeting; it allows you to use compelling content and active engagement to create more fulfilling member experiences.

Today's platforms allow you to create a branded hub your community members will keep coming back to. They offer a space for your team to learn, experiment, and advance your content strategy. Most importantly, they provide intuitive functionality, innovative interactivity, and dedicated support to make your events hassle-free—for you and your members. 

Kristen Wright is the CMO of Forj, the Member Experience and Virtual Event platform purpose-built for associations and professional community organizations. Forj powers personalized virtual events and online engagement to fuel learning and connections for the long-term. To learn more, visit: www.forj.ai.