Planning an event is one awesome thing, but creating a movement is an entirely different beast. Sometimes, we get so tied up in planning the logistics of our event and spreading the word via traditional marketing channels that we forget the power of a movement. A movement is any cause that has enough action in it that it feels as if it's moving on it's own. How many of us would like to say that we feel our events fill themselves up without having to market? Or we get a viral interaction online without having to pay for it? Wouldn't that be nice? The key is creating a movement – sometimes even through what may seem mundane. Think of events like The Color Run, TED Conferences or The Burning Man Festival. What are these event organizers doing so well that makes these events viral and the source of a huge community? Here are a few tips.
Find a Passion Worth Living For
Movements are fed by passion. They require a group of people to feel a connection to a cause or a topic or a shared interest that drives them. This could be as simple as a group of event planners who truly love event planning. Or, a group of people who truly love running or biking or doing something active. What is the passion being fueled at your event? If you have a hard time answering this question, this is where you need to start. A great movement needs a great cause. Figure out the single best way that your event connects like-minded people and hone in on that as you move forward with growing your movement.
Connect on a Human Level
People like to connect with other people. One of the reasons that I would bet my money on the fact that face-to-face events are never going to die, is because I believe that people need that face-to-face connection. Technology is an incredibly powerful tool, but it is not a replacement for people getting together. Make sure that your event gives people time to connect on a human level. This means that your conference can't be so packed with sessions that your attendees barely have time to go to the bathroom. What about extending your lunch breaks and creating more breaks during the day? What about having longer reception times in the morning and afternoon? How are you allowing people to connect with each other and giving them time to make an actual relationship? When people have a similar passion and then connect personally, the movement is starting to form. A movement requires action and action requires connected people.
Let it Move
I get it. We are event planners and we like to control every detail, but some of the most amazing movements are much more fluid then we as event planners would like to believe. I don't believe someone single handedly orchestrated the Burning Man Festival becoming as popular as it did. I believe that they empowered their attendees and created an intense passion. Once people have made that connection, things will start to move without your control. This is where is starts to matter that you have a strong brand and set policies/philosophies that are easy to catch onto. When other people start getting involved in moving this cause, you want to make sure the brand is easy to grab onto and spread. This means intense visual branding and consistently clear messages. If you have these things in place, let it move!
Let the people drive the direction of the events and you will find that your marketing starts getting easier, your events more successful, and your mission being moved forward! It is the best feeling in the world!