Now that Be2camp@WorkingBuildings2009 activities have begun to wound down, I can start reflecting upon the event. While there were upsides and downsides to holding this event alongside a trade show (see my Be2camp blog post), I think it is clear that events – whether online or offline (or a combination of both) – can play a critical role in raising the profile of online groups and engaging with both existing and new members.
I did a short presentation about online communities for people in the architectural, engineering and construction (AEC) sector, and I used Be2camp as an example to show that events are important in building membership and involvement with communities. One of the clearest indicators is how membership has grown in the run-up to our unconferences (and also how growth ‘flattened’ during the gap between our Be2camp London in October 2008 and Be2campnorth in Liverpool the following May).
Levels of interactivity with the Be2camp website during 2009 also show corresponding peaks and troughs over the course of the year, with the numbers of visitors, pages viewed, etc, all peaking on our ‘unconference’ days.
It is also significant, I think, that the average number of daily visitors has increased over the course of the year – perhaps a sign that hosting a lot of the rich content from our unconferences helps keep the site ‘sticky‘ (and this is despite some AEC organisations blocking access to social media sites, including work-related online communities like Be2camp hosted on the Ning platform).
Over the two days of the WorkingBuildings event, we had 224 viewers of the Ustream.tv feed, and 206 people viewed the live-blogging on CoverItLive. The various presentations (mainly hosted on SlideShare; one on Scribd) are also being clicked-through to on a regular basis – several already have 50-100+ views since being uploaded and embedded in the Be2campWB content pages. Incidentally, I believe that creating such post-event archives of each unconference is one of the great distinguishing characteristics of the Be2camp approach – using social media to create an easily accessible record of past conversations, so that future events and members and future presenters can expand on the information already delivered.
The challenge, of course, will be to maintain this upward momentum, and we are already talking about future events – both further unconference events and also collaborations with other AEC and property organisations looking to add a Web 2.0 dimension to their more traditional conferences or seminars.