Once the dust has settled on your one-day awareness-raising event… once you’ve taken stock of all the day’s successes…. once you’ve tallied your tremendous engagement numbers… the big question looms: “How do we keep people engaged for the next 364 days, until the next one?”
In creating and organizing your one-day event, you’ve done hard work.
You’ve built a bigger community, filled with engaged individuals who’ve self-selected interest in your cause. They in turn have received validation for their effort and participation.
Now the window of opportunity is wide open for you to double down, re-engage, and move your community further forward. That happens by deepening, strengthening, and reinforcing the relationships you established in that one day.
Now, you have to keep it going—because that window begins to close as soon as it has fully opened.
First thing first: Follow up!
Immediate follow-up is essential to keeping your event top-of-mind with your key communities:
- Event attendees
- Media that covered you and those that didn’t
- Sponsors of the event and those you’d want to target next time
- Civic/Government entities that can give greater credibility to your effort
- Corporate employee engagement and citizenship/social responsibility programs
Well before the day of your event, you need to create a thorough communication plan for the days and weeks after the event.
Think about it: After you’ve gathered everyone (virtually or in person) and created a creative, motivated, ready-to-act groundswell of support, you can’t leave people hanging! It’s prime time to drive action, celebrate success, and remind your participants that they are part of something bigger—and that it’s still easy to support the effort going forward.
10 great event follow-ups that work:
- Send certificates of participation.
- Publicly thank folks on social media, in a newspaper ad, or in your email newsletter.
- Send a quick, 5-question survey asking attendees to rate aspects of the event and would they attend the next one. Or better: Ask just one question that gets to the core of the experience: “How did you participate in [Event Name]?”
- Send a longer survey to those who take the first one. Dive deeper into their impressions of and commitment to the cause. Gauge willingness to participate/help organize future events.
- Invite participants to a subsequent event or activity that capitalizes on their positive experience.
- Share outcomes, results, and impacts of your one-day event.
- Leverage social media (“Together Tuesdays,” “Thankful Thursdays,” “Flashback Fridays,” etc.). Post about what’s happening now, fun “ICYMI” images, sponsor shoutouts, etc. Create a “FOMO” (fear of missing out) vibe about the next event. And work those #tags!
- Consider a monthly email newsletter update.
- Spotlight, amplify, and appreciate your sponsors.
- Provide opportunities for deeper, individual engagement. Your cause needs active helpers year ‘round, so keep that need out in front of your engaged audience.
With immediate follow-up you show and tell people how, through the event, they’re making a difference. And with regular strategic communications you prime the pump for greater success next year. Which leads us to…
Activate your event participants for more engagement.
Next, start moving your participants up the ladder of activation by giving them small tasks that reaffirm their commitment. Here’s an example—I call it the “Tell Someone” engagement strategy:
For the Great ShakeOut, we asked people to tell someone about the best way to react in the earthquake—simple, right? But highly effective and engaging. When someone shares information, they tend to internalize it, as they are now setting up a belief system.
How do you activate people like this? The easiest way is a “mini campaign”: providing scripts and tools such as images or communication timelines that make it very easy for your community to carry and share your message. Then, you reward them with public acknowledgements, retweets, and even private thanks: Positive reinforcement invigorates future actions.
Lock in future participation
Next, open the door for event participants to commit to deeper participation by asking them to lead. In this context, “leading” doesn’t have to mean being in charge—it’s about stepping up to share a little more responsibility for making the cause successful.
Ways to do this include joining a planning committee at the regional, organizational, business level. People can even just plan something in their own household or micro community. The big idea is to make clear that this is the next step in the process of advancing your the cause—and that it’s up to them.
Keep the spotlight on your cause.
By doing this you continue to demonstrate the effectiveness of group action and your ability to lead—while also expanding your reach.
Your truly committed community members will emerge.
For any one day event, it’s likely that about 1% to 3% of participants will stay with you at this “activated” level. They will continue to engage with your content and take the actions you request if your requests resonate.
This is your biggest challenge over those 364 days: Make sure you communicate with participants with relatable, energizing, motivating content.
Remember, ShakeOut had more than 5 million participants in year one, and in 2019, it had more than 65million people worldwide. Clean Air Day launched in 2018 with 100,000 participants, and in 2020, even with a global pandemic, more than 1.5 million people pledged action.
A one-day event is a launchpad to increase engagement, advance your goals, and realize greater success than you would without it. And using all 364 days to nurture your past participants and attract new participants, you’ll continue to have year-over-year growth of engagement and impact.
As Stratiscope works with leaders and communities across the U.S., creating and leading one-day engagement events is a tool that can address millions of people or just the hundreds or thousands related to a local region or issue. With focus as the basis of achievement, one-day events provide the necessary experience to launch true engagement for a lifetime. We’ve done it before, and we look forward to doing it again.
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