I’m down at South by Southwest Interactive right now and, having spoken at numerous events over the years, what strikes me most about SXSW is the atmosphere and the energy. It is incomparable to any event I’ve been at.
If you go to a big conference in New York, you don’t walk down the street and only see conference attendees. When you’re in the concentration of people in downtown Austin for SXSW, it is essentially all that you see. It just has a crazy energy, a crazy buzz and that is why people keep coming back.
It’s a culture thing. SXSW has grown so much, but what drives the numbers is the culture. It’s the feeling on the streets and in the halls.
That’s what you want to try to replicate on your community. That excitement, that unique energy is one of the things that makes it unique.
It starts with people, sharing good information and building relationships. People get excited about the discussion, about what others will say and about the replies and attention that their contribution will receive. It’s part anticipation and it drives people to return.
People can certainly include you and your staff, if applicable. While you will need to be the person that people don’t like sometimes, when you are telling them they can’t do something, also make sure that you are encouraging and stimulating excitement about your community.
Thank people who make great contributions, highlight unique and meaningful dialog and help add that excitement and defend it from those who try to take it away.