Building an Event Community: Why and How Should You Do It?
Event organizers are the new community builders. It’s not a matter of organizing in-person or virtual events once a year anymore. It’s about connecting and engaging with their audience year-round. The introduction of this community model in your event strategy means that eventprofs have to adapt and change their vision of events.
And yet, building a community is not a new concept for the event industry.
Events are often defined as a “noteworthy social occurrence” which centers on gathering people together at a certain place for a defined amount of time. Technology has changed and challenged this definition, as well as the execution of our events. The growing opportunities afforded by these new tools helped shift events toward this 365-community model. Event technology also makes it easier for a community to engage with one another and build a relationship with brands and associations by facilitating more regular interactions.
In this blog article, we’ll talk more about the new community model, share some tips on how to build your own event community, and introduce some event technology platforms and solutions that you could use.
A shift toward a community model
Having a 365-community model is the trend for event organizers in 2023. But what does it actually mean?
A year-round community model is a way to consider events, not as one-time occurrences, but as extending the value your event brings to its community on a much longer timeline. There are significant benefits, such as long-term audience engagement on a platform with many branding opportunities. But it is also a smart way to expand your event’s influence and justify your value to your participants. If your event brings value to your participants during the short timeline of the event itself, why not extend that impact further? 365 models are a chance to have your community engage with your brand or organization in a space where you can immerse them in your universe, share your values and learn more about them. By creating deeper and more meaningful connections with your audience around the clock, you’ll be able to tailor your content to identify their pain point and provide value.
Focusing on building a community of like-minded individuals who are already participants in your events is a good strategic move: it means that your community will be more likely to be interested in your next event or gathering. Instead of figuring out new ways to generate episodic interest, you can keep the momentum going and have your community always be aware of what is coming, making them more likely to participate in your events. Moreover, communities tend to grow quickly and easily through word-of-mouth, which ensures a growing awareness of your brand.
How to build a Community Around Your Event
With this new community model, event organizers are expected to keep the event attendees and the whole community engaged at all times. But how do you gather like-minded people around your brand and encourage interactions? Here are some tips that can help you get started with building a community around your event.
1- Give your attendees the value they’re looking for.
Planning an event is great, but are you delivering what you’re promising? Attendees come to your event expecting to have a great experience, but not only. They attend your event to interact with other like-minded individuals, learn from your speakers, and discover more about your brand’s value and history. They’re not just attending your event to have a good time, they expect you to provide them with value, from which they can deduct learnings and ways to go forwards. Your event should provide value to keep your attendees’ interest and make sure they’d like to come back to other events in order to learn more. They will want to be involved in your community in order to keep learning from you, and also in between your events. So make sure to also provide value to them outside dedicated event times! In this, you might want to take into account our PIRATEx motto: “Give, Give, Give, Ask”. Give value and support before asking for more from your community. The first step of building a community requires providing value for a community to rally around.
2- Provide your community with a space to gather.
If you’re looking to build a community around your event, one of the most important things you can do is give your attendees a space to gather. This can be an online forum, a social media group, or even just a dedicated page on your event website. By giving your community a place to connect, you’re making it easier for them to find each other, have meaningful discussions, and build relationships. Here, you’ll want to set clear community guidelines that will ensure that your values are supported and that your community space becomes a safe space supporting honest interaction between people.
3- Engage with your community to build relationships.
Just because you build it, it doesn’t mean that your community will grow by itself. As an organizer, you need to take an active role. You need to interact with your members and keep the community engaged, and model the behavior you would like to see within your community.
This means being an active and engaged member yourself. If you’re not interested in what’s going on, no one else will be either. Talk to people, get to know them, and find out what they’re interested in. Show your members that you care about them and their interests, and they’ll be more likely to stick around and continue to support your event community. This is a great way to be aware of everyone’s needs and interests and to know your member’s pain points.
4- Involve your community in your decision-making process.
When planning an event, it’s important to involve your community in the decision-making process. This will help ensure that your event is successful and that the community is invested in its success. There are a few ways you can involve your community in the planning process:
- Create a planning committee that includes representatives from different parts of the community.
- Hold Q&As and polls to gather input on the event.
- Use social media and other online platforms to solicit feedback from the community.
- Make sure to communicate regularly with the community about the event planning process.
This helps to create a sense of ownership, encouraging your community to take part in the event that they help build.
5- Support organic meetings from your community members.
If you have a very active community, some members may want to meet up at some point, outside the events you’re organizing. Support them in this endeavor. Some ways to support organic meetings from your community members are to publicize any events that members want to put together on your event website or calendar, help connect members who might want to attend the same event and provide any resources that members might need to pull off their event. By supporting organic meetings with your community members, you’re showing you care about your members and their interests. Even better: try to attend the meeting, but without taking over. You’re just here as a member, supporting others’ projects.
Community Building Platforms
In our digital era, some of the best community spaces are found online with the help of software or platforms. There are a number of great community-building platforms out there that can help organizers connect with their attendees. Here are some you might want to check out:
Facebook Groups are a powerful community-building tool that allows organizers to create and manage groups for their events. Attendees can use the groups to connect with each other, ask questions, and stay up-to-date on event information.
Guild is a platform dedicated to professionals and aims to build communities of expertise where people can connect, communicate and collaborate. There are multiple branding options that you can use to create a space at your brand’s image.
Although not originally created for events, Discord has become one of the most widely used platforms for event communities. It’s simple to use and has a variety of features that make it ideal for event organizers to moderate the community.
Hivebrite is an all-in-one community portal, that is highly customizable and provides anyone with all the tools you might need to build and engage your community.
Tribe is a customizable community platform for businesses based on no-code technology. It’s easy to learn and includes gamification elements that can engage members and make your community event more active.
Floor is an all-in-one platform dedicated to events, trade shows, and conference communities. You can create unique community-driven events quickly using many of the platform’s engagement features to engage your audience.
Zapnito is a community-building platform designed for experts and enthusiasts. The platform lets you create a central community hub that includes many features to help you engage with your members.
SCOOCS is designed to “bring your community engagement to the next level” through an all-in-one platform that allows you to set up networking tables, 1:1 video meetings, and more.
These are just a selection of the many community platforms out there. Depending on your needs, you might also want to look into event management platforms. Some of them offer yearly subscriptions, that you can use to create your event community, such as Webex Events, Swapcard or Brella. Before choosing any technology platform, it is important to know what features you need and how you want the community to interact.
The Bottom Line
Building an event community is key to making sure that you and your brand stay relevant all year round and not just when you have an event happening. Keeping your community engaged helps when it comes to inviting your most interested stakeholders to any events you are hosting: no more cold email leads! Building a community around your events is not complicated, but it requires care to regularly communicate and provide members with value. There are many community-building platforms out there with features that can help you with engagement and give your members great experiences. If none of the platforms we’ve mentioned are what you’re looking for, check out our Eventtech Directory. With 300+ different platforms and solutions for your online and hybrid events, you’ll be sure to find something for you!
PIRATEx Digital Marketing Manager