Creatively using & promoting our community at a conference


(Mark Bazin) #1

Hi all - seeking some suggestions from the most talented group of community professionals on the web.

We launched Workplace by Facebook last month to our national network of schools - it’s been sort of successful, with some bumps and frustrations here and there. At the end of this month, we are having our yearly national conference where a handful of representatives from each school will attend. There are really two community-related goals we have for this event:

  1. Encourage people who are skeptical of the online community or not engaged to complete their registration, get online, and participate. We have some really great discussions happening now, but only among 20% of our total audience. It’d be great to use this conference to promote engagement.

  2. Use the community creatively during sessions. We’ll have 3 days of sessions - most presentation-heavy, but some will have discussion. We’d like to livestream some presentations, maybe have some online chat, or other things of that sort. We’re looking to share materials exclusively through Workplace so people have to engage with the community to at least get the presentation files, etc.

I’ve also been given some time to present about Workplace and its benefits. I’m planning on highlighting stories of success like @richard_millington talks about in other postings here (and his awesome book), and we have some really good successes so far. I expect that there will be some pushback among some members of the group, but I think if we can use the system creatively during the sessions, we’ll be able to bring those folks into the fold.

I suppose I’m asking for creative suggestions - things that have worked for you before or other ideas. Workplace is a pretty featureful platform, and the mobile apps are really good. The structure of Workplace may pose a challenge when it comes to groups and where things “go”. Overall, I think if we can engage these people really well, they will serve as advocates to the rest of their school.

(Sarah Hawk) #2

Favourite quote right there!

Do you have a handful of people that are passionate about using the platform and/or are doing innovative things? I know that in my own experience, hearing from peers who are seeing success is generally more compelling than presentations from management.

Do you have any insights as to why the skeptics are pushing back?

@barbara might have some interesting ideas here. Her company Minsh wrote a conference networking app for us for Sprint one year.

(Mark Bazin) #3

Thanks! We do have several folks who are pretty big users - I think a few will be at the conference and I’ll be sure to make them part of this one way or the other. Since we’re not really a traditional organization (sort of a federation of other organizations), buy-in for anything we do is fairly important. I like the idea of throwing this to some people who are already bought-into this at every level (presidents, cfos, etc.).

Our skeptics are pushing back for a few reasons. The biggest one is that we didn’t do a good enough job of communication before we launched. That’s on me - we didn’t telegraph this far enough out. We had champions at every school who were early adopters, but we didn’t really push them to let their peers know. We communicated to various groups of people but not everyone knew it was coming. As such, for many people it was unexpected when they got invited. I’ll completely own that. I figure in a year, all the frustrations from communication will be gone, so I’m not super-concerned about it long-term.

Beyond the communication issue, there’s consternation about the level of notifications, and then for some I think there’s a lack of interest in participating. There’s also a level of concern that it’s Facebook and some are very anti-FB (which I understand). There is a part of me that thinks maybe we misjudged the level of interest in having an online community - people said they wanted it, but maybe they didn’t really.

(Sarah Hawk) #4

The communication issue is something you’ll probably be able to overcome. Perhaps not the anti-FB crowd though!

What value does the community offer to your members? Is it a knowledge sharing network?

I’m not a huge conference goer (it’s a bit tough when you live this far down the planet), so hopefully a few others will chime in with ideas they’ve seen work.

(Nick Emmett) #5

haha, flattery gets you everywhere!

So - am I right in thinking that not all of your target members will be physically attending your conference?

If not how about setting up some sort of Ask Me Anything (AMA) session, at my previous employer we did this when we launched our internal community and it was really received, with people posting their questions and getting responses from the leadership team in (almost) real-time.

To address getting people actually registered and in there why not have a stand and encourage people to come by and have a selfie with you, and/or other community members, and get them to post it there an then, use a hashtag and maybe enter people that post there in to a draw for some swag?

I’m not a massive advocate of using communities etc actually within a session - I think it’s confusing for attendees to know where they’re supposed to be focussing their attention, unless it’s some of kind of live Q&A session, which I’ve seen before, where a panel on stage answers incoming questions via a live feed from whatever platform you choose.

Just a couple of initial thoughts on this - what have others got?