Events are the gifts that keep on giving, but not without a little planning and TLC on your end. Now, more than ever, people are craving experiences over things. Events are a great way to satisfy your audience’s desire and give them a positive experience with your brand. But what happens after your events? Do you let attendees dissipate until the next time you host something? If so, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity to deepen engagement with your audience.

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By fostering a community around your events, you create a breeding ground for advocates who will promote your brand for you through word-of-mouth marketing, expanding your event’s reach, increasing attendance and building anticipation for the next one.

Check out four ways to create a community around your events.

1. LinkedIn Groups

LinkedIn Groups allow like-minded people to easily connect in a professional setting. You can create a group around a specific event or conference. But you can’t expect for your community to come alive overnight. Be sure to regularly communicate and engage with your audience so they’ll be itching to check their LinkedIn.

  • Get the ball rolling by regularly posting questions to your group members.
  • Comment on influencers’ posts and updates. This is a give and take relationship. Make sure and they know you appreciate their participation in your group.  
  • Grow your community by inviting your audience to join directly through LinkedIn. Be sure to include in your invite some general information such as the purpose of the group and what they’ll get out of joining it.
  • Post exclusive information to the group such as event discounts or VIP mixers so people will have a sense of urgency for joining your community.

2. Slack

Wondering what in the world is Slack? Slack is a messaging app that has taken offices everywhere by storm. Due to its sleek mobile and desktop interface, collaboration friendly capabilities, not to mention GIF support is included, Slack doesn’t have to be just for the office.

With Slack, you can create a community that won’t miss a beat. Unlike with social networks, when you log back on Slack your feed picks up exactly where you left off, allowing you to see conversations that happened while you were in a meeting or grabbing lunch. Did I mention you can use the service with unlimited users for free?

Although the only way people can join your Slack community is to be invited by an administrator, you can still invite your audience to opt in by having them sign up with a tool such as Type Form.

Tip: Keep your form short and sweet. Ask for general info such as their name, company and email address, then invite them to join your community. Be sure to spread the word through email, social media and your blog.

3. Host and encourage small meetups

Even if you already host larger events or one big annual event, let people from your community connect with each other during the down time by either hosting lighter touch events to build momentum or empower them to host their own. If you don’t have the budget, you could create a special day and encourage your influencers across the country to host a little mixer or host a happy hour to celebrate.

Since 2010, Mashable has hosted Social Media Day. On their website, they offered ways for their community to host an official event in their respective cities.

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Be sure to include a link to your event toolkit on your site containing official branded materials, such as logos, so your community can properly promote the event. Through these mini events, your advocates can tap into a network that may not be familiar with your organization and influence them to come to your main event.

Don’t limit yourself or your advocates to hosting only physical events. Encourage them to explore other options such as a Twitter chat where they could pick a topic or invite a guest speaker to participate in a Q&A. Other great options include live streaming your chat through Periscope or using a free webinar platform like AnyMeeting.

4. Embrace old school communication

When’s the last time you’ve received something in the mail other than a bill? Although social media and email offer marketers powerful communication tools, don’t overlook sending members of your audience a little something special via snail mail.

Buffer’s Community Manager Nicole Miller sends a handwritten note complete with stickers to anyone tuning into #BufferChat, their weekly Twitter chat, for the first time. That little something extra makes their audience eager to join their community.  

An idea like this will help you stand out. People get millions of emails, but not a ton of hand written notes and stickers. What’s even better, this doesn’t cost a ton to make a huge impression and gain a new member in your community. Figure out what would resonate best with your community and run wild.

Want to attract more people to your events? Download 6 Ways Your Online Event Calendar Can Increase Attendance at Events.