Here’s a quick recap of our favorite moments, sessions and ideas that came out of Personify’s first Community Lab virtual event. 

Last week, Personify hosted our first Community Lab event! It was a great day filled with inspiring sessions led by thought leaders, experts and super users of online communities built for association members, and the discussion forums were filled with insightful questions and ideas from the “community curious” to the veteran community builder.  

In short, Community Lab was filled with a lot of learning and a lot of fun. We call that a success! If you couldn’t join us, we’ve rounded up some of the top sessions and ah-ha moments we heard that attendees really enjoyed.  

Top moments and discoveries from Community Lab 

The opening keynote revealed the biggest opportunity for online communities for associations 

Even though “online community” has become a buzzword across several industries in the past couple of years, our opening keynote panel reminded us that, for associations, online communities aren’t new. In fact, associations were some of the first to offer online communities because associations were born out of the desire for people to be a part of a community.  

All panelists agreed that, whether in-person or virtual, you can’t separate associations from community.  

With that perspective in mind, Marjorie Anderson believes that the real opportunity for an association’s online community isn’t as a destination, but as an integral part of a member’s journey with the association. 

“There’s an expectation that if I’m part of the community, how do you then help support the rest of my [member] journey? So if I am a seasoned volunteer within your organization, and I’m part of your community, how can I give back? Maybe I want to be able to share my knowledge — how do I do that is easy for me to do that? If I’m new, is it easy for me to come in and ask a question or connect to the people that I need to connect with? It’s no longer about Community just as a destination.” 

Benjamin and Erin also provided perspective on how living through the pandemic drove people to online communities, not simply to make connections online, but for more learning opportunities through virtual events and online courses.  

Building an inclusive culture sparked the most comments we saw in our sessions.

It was amazing seeing all the chatter in each of our sessions, and our session titled, “How to Build an Inclusive Culture in Your Online Community,” inspired so many thought-provoking and supportive comments.  

What made this session unique is that it focused on how to use inclusive language to ensure all your members feel welcomed, safe and accepted when they enter your online space, so we received comments and questions like,  

“Wow, that is a really cool description of “executive dysfunction.” I haven’t heard it described that way.” 

“In considering the goal of removing binary language from the gender sphere, I wonder what options might be considered to update the terms ‘bisexual’ and ‘biromantic’?” 

“Great session, very informative.” 

Watch the session: How to Build an Inclusive Culture in Your Online Community 

Gaining member feedback was a hot topic.

Something nearly all our sessions touched on was how essential it is to avoid building or refreshing your online community for the wrong reasons. Don’t get us wrong, everyone has the best of intentions — we all want to offer an online space our members will love to use.  

But sometimes it’s easy to assume we know what our members will enjoy using in our online communities or see an online community as a fix to some internal challenges like stunted membership growth or inconsistent communication.  

And judging by some of the online community success stories that came out of Community Lab, you absolutely can increase membership growth and improve member communication using your online community…but it all depends on what your members need and ask for when it comes to their dedicated online space.  

Our discussion forums were filled with attendees exchanging insights they’ve received from members and requests for survey questions people have used to gauge their members’ community wants and needs. 

Watch the success story: Amplify Your Impact — Using your online community to increase fundraising efforts 

People are still wondering about events. 

Events have been a hot topic since the world first declared an official pandemic a couple of years ago and upended the way associations connect with members, offer learning opportunities, generate revenue and more.  

As pandemic restrictions are easing in some areas of the U.S., the chatter in our sessions and discussion forums reveals that association professionals are still asking questions about hosting safe in-person events and working through the logistics of hybrid events, but the conversations seem more hopeful.  

Attendees’ comments prove that in-person events are back, but they’re also committed to using tools and strategies like an online community to drive registrations, share pre-and post-event invites and on-demand sessions and continue the buzz of events in ways that went untapped before the pandemic.  

Watch the session: Leveraging Online Communities for your Hybrid and In-Person Events 

See how an online community platform can serve your members. 

Whether or not you attended Community Lab, we hope you enjoy watching our on-demand sessions, and if you want to see how CommUnity can help your membership and association grow together in action, reach out to us today! 

And check out more of our on-demand sessions by visiting our Resource Center.