The community model has established itself as one of the biggest event trends of 2022. So much so that many event platforms are now in fact calling themselves community platforms too! The year-round community model offers a new way to view events. Perhaps one of the biggest perks this paradigm shift brings along is continuous audience engagement – one of the most talked-about pain points for event planners.
People are increasingly relying on the virtual world to connect, make plans, and learn. And the events industry has now finally caught up with it. The pandemic normalized virtual events, improved their production quality, and sped up the adoption of event platforms. With it comes the community model: an opportunity to stay connected with your audience, exhibitors, and sponsors throughout the entire year rather than just for several days.
Audience Engagement Stretches Beyond Singular Events
Engagement is not something that only concerns the event itself. Event planners have known this for ages: building anticipation before the event, for example, has long been an essential part of any event timeline. After the event, however, it was nearly impossible to keep all the attendees connected in one place. Instead, connections and event-related experiences were at best scattered across several social media platforms.
Enter event platforms: everything is stored in one place. The audience engagement doesn’t need to stop, and neither does lead generation and other traditionally event-related monetization opportunities.
IMEX also recognizes community as one of the biggest event trends. In their estimation, the community model consists of 80% year-round online interactions and 20% at an annual in-person event. And that doesn’t mean that the in-person events are losing value. On the contrary: they’ll be all the more unforgettable and valuable for it.
An effective community model is much like an online event, EventMobi’s guide The Secret to Successful Attendee Retention: Year-Round Engagement explains. The exception is that audiences can learn and engage at their leisure, anytime, from anywhere – all on the same platform. One login, endless value.
Organizations can give people various types of value through membership. Depending on their goals, the community model enables them to:
- promote and host upcoming virtual, hybrid, and in-person events,
- promote and host smaller meetings and events, such as post-event follow-up meetings,
- acquire feedback through polls, Q&As, and surveys at any given time,
- facilitate 1-on-1 connections and networking opportunities with workshops, mastermind groups, etc.,
- give members space to connect in unstructured and spontaneous ways (via chat, for example),
- offer on-demand content, such as webinars, recorded breakout sessions, keynote presentations from previous events, podcasts, whitepapers, newsletters, etc.,
- host sponsor giveaways and gamified challenges.
Based on the community’s direct feedback and data insights, community managers can provide the exact content and events that members ask for. And so, transparent communication builds brand loyalty and further audience engagement. If designed well, the members eventually keep the community model going mostly by themselves. They’re actively participating in creating the community and not just passively following the content.
Community Model Offers A Higher ROI
A yearly subscription to an event platform can be a hefty investment, but the ROI of the community model far surpasses one-off events if done right. As mentioned in the introduction, monetization opportunities and marketing efforts are no longer limited by time but can continue throughout the year.
And remember: engagement pays off. The happier and more immersed your attendees or community members, the more likely they’ll continue to engage with your content and others in the future. Event and community platforms offer data insights into attendee behavior and preferences, so you can make all the adjustments necessary to keep your audiences happy. These data insights can further inform your event strategy and be used to expand your ROI.
Greater Accessibility & Global Reach
On a similar note, the community model is more accessible, democratic, and inclusive than the traditional event planning practices. As the community lives online at all times, people from all over the world can join. Some people might not be able to travel to the big annual in-person conference, but they’re still just as valued as community members as those who can attend. The equation is simple: global members mean even more brand recognition, revenue, and value for other members.
Community Model Is The Way Of The Future
The community model holds immense promise for the events industry, but it does require us to view events through a slightly different lens. The focus should no longer be on that annual in-person event, but rather on the community that lives on an event platform. Your members can stay connected to your brand and to each other throughout the year, consume content at their leisure, and enjoy higher levels of autonomy. With the help of a great community manager, audience engagement never needs to stop!
The Endless Events team has helped many partners create thriving communities around their brands. If you want to learn more about our innovative event technology and event strategy solutions, reach out to us. We’re here to make your dream event experience come true!