When it comes to engaging your audience with an event, most people have a preference for interacting either face-to-face or virtually. But it’s best not to think “either/or”. Instead think “both/and”.
Several years ago, I interviewed Jeremiah Owyang, a former Forrester analyst for social media. Jeremiah is a master at building community. I’ll never forget when he said, “Effective community building is not done solely online or solely in-person. It requires both.” Jeremiah went on to tell me that when he travels, he makes a point of arranging a meet up and inviting his followers on social media.
Taking a page out of Jeremiah’s book, I emailed my list last summer with the following, before traveling to Chicago on business:
Hi <first name>,
What’s better than eating at one of my favorite restaurants in all the world? Meeting up with kindred spirits, to feed body, mind, and soul.
Join me on July 19, in Chicago, for a meetup of remarkable individuals. You’ll meet members of my “brand community” who are smart, accomplished, and interesting.
After years of gathering my “tribe” online with virtual events (e.g., webinars, teleseminars), the in-person event had a special appeal – for me and my audience.
In the process, I learned a lot more than bridging the gap between online and in-person engagement. I became aware of the role of three basic human desires in creating engagement: