Social media isn’t just about what happens online — it can’t be. There are real people behind the Twitter accounts and Facebook pages that you interact with. There’s a certain point at which any online community will leap at the chance to meet in person.

Real World Events are Growing

This isn’t exactly a new trend: the communities that sprouted around Blizzard’s games (World of Warcraft, Diablo and the rest) have been congregating at BlizzCon since 2005. But many communities within the social media sphere are hitting a certain critical mass.

An interesting example is the personal finance blogging community. It’s an area where there are some strong personalities, some of which have made efforts to get out and travel to where their communities are. The first Financial Blogger Conference is scheduled for the end of September this year. The past year or so have seen other interesting events: Adam Baker, the blogger behind Man Vs Debt, climbed into an RV with his wife and daughter for six months, traveling the U.S. There were personal motivations behind the project, of course, but it was also very much an opportunity for Baker to interact with the community he’s built. He even offered a form on his blog, allowing people to request stops.

No Matter How Great You Are Online, It’s Time to Look Offline

Integrating offline events with a social media campaign isn’t a must — yet. But if one of the goals of the social media marketing you do is to build a stable and sustainable community, offering the individuals involved a chance to connect in person is becoming increasingly important.

It may not always be perfectly simple to create an offline component. After all, many of the projects you might work on could as easily reach people on the other side of the globe as next door. Such is the power of the internet. But when you’re offering opportunities for real world interaction, you may be surprised how far committed members of your community will travel.