Social Strategies: Online Event Community Horror Stories, and What NOT to Do

booIt's getting close to THAT DAY. But Tara Barnes of Pathable (a Cvent partner) is here to warn you about some other kinds of horrors.

Nasty trolls, a community as content-barren as a post-apocalyptic world, banner ads everywhere and no one to manage it all? Online event communities can go horribly awry. Treat the examples in this article as shining examples of what not to do - don't say we didn't warn you!

Horror Story #1: Ignoring the Trolls

Online trolls differ in looks than those drooly, bridge-dwelling creatures we imagine, but their objective is the same: to wreak havoc. Online trolls are there specifically to stir the pot, antagonize and often cause giant, off-topic controversies. Having a troll in your community isn't what causes horror - it's ignoring them that's the issue. Many community managers don't like the idea of regulating "free speech," so they'll leave all conversations and comments active. Unfortunately, if you have someone intentionally trying to incite a riot, the conversation can escalate to a point where people don't want to be in your hostile community environment. People can get offended by the troll's comments, and just ignoring the problem makes it seem like you don't care. What you end up with is a community full of angry conversations and a lot of members who don't want to be there any more.

Horror Story #2: No Content

Having a community devoid of conversations and content is worse than having no community at all. Conceivably, you're launching an event community to give your attendees, exhibitors, sponsors and speakers a way to interact with one another, to network and to converse. For whatever reason, they aren't. Maybe they're not technically savvy. Maybe they just don't understand how to use the tools. Maybe there's not enough drawing them in on a daily basis. (Do you notice how these are all easily solved problems?) The problem is: If you have a community devoid of any conversations and engagement, you have this barren, sad, branded representation of your event sitting in the internet. Trust us: It's making a really bad impression.

Horror Story #3: Advertising Overload

We respect every event host's right to want to make that extra dollar, to boost that ROI. But if your members can't interact with one another without paid banner ads popping up in their faces, or if they can't open their inbox without a barrage of marketing emails - they aren't going to use your community. We're all used to seeing advertising on some level (and Pathable does offer ways to highlight exhibitors and sponsors), but having ads inundate your community is going to bump you right back into Horror Story #2. Scared yet?

Horror Story #4: No Superhero to Save the Day

"Do I need to have someone dedicated to managing this community?" We get asked this question a lot, and we imagine people are hoping for the answer "Nope! Just launch the community and all the engagement and management will happen on its own." This is not the case. Online communities without a dedicated manager are destined for a meltdown. If you don't have a dedicated community manager: Trolls can dominate the conversation. Questions from members will go unanswered. People on your team will step on one another's toes trying to manage bits and pieces. No one will fully understand what's happening in the community. Engagement and interactions won't be encouraged/nurtured. And your community will likely die on the vine.

These horror stories aren't meant to be deterrents - all these scenarios are actually very easily avoided. They're also easy to fall into, but with proper strategy and management you can easily see the 80-90% adoption and engagement rates our clients do.

Use your brains to take our survey (before the zombies get to them).


Photo: gaudiramone via Flickr

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