Bringing Your Online Community Offline

Matt Warburton (@betfair) offered session attendees some good advice and ideas for taking your online community offline. He suggested that offline participation can:
  • Engage and recognize power users
  • Offer education
  • Collect feedback
  • Communicate news
  • Build loyalty and Word of Mouth
  • Put a face on your brand
Matt offered some ideas for successful offline events:
  • User Advisory Panels (fly them out in person; recruit people based on behavior; get a good mix of customer base; stay connected via phone calls; involve CEOs in the process; keep participants for 12 months to keep it fresh and avoid a sense of "entitlement")
  • Meetups Parties (usually a little cheaper; most often a casual gathering; regional, mostly social; keep tied in to brand)
  • Town Halls (regional events; use a cross-functional level of staff; usually held at a hotel banquet room with a meet and greet for an hour; open up mic for traditional Q&A)
  • User Conferences (large scale user conferences education, networking, and social components; high level executive participation (examples: eBay Live; Microsoft MVP conference; users often pay their own way to the event)
  • Official Member–Organized Events (appoint ambassadors to do the events for you; officially sanctioned member-organized events; guidelines are established to ensure standards; company provides collateral; no staff participation)

Matt offered council for judging or measuring the benefits of the offline events, as well as thoughts on how to stay connected with these users once the events were over. The key, it seems, is to make the events interactive, keep them on-brand, and then to follow up. "Real," "trust," and "engagement"can happen anywhere.


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