Guild’s "Professional Community Leaders" group met online to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing us as we head into 2021. The discussion generated a lot of ideas, particularly around how to combine virtual events with online community.
These were the key themes and challenges that emerged from our session:
Better combining events with online community
All our communities were used to meeting in person pre-COVID. Virtual and hybrid events are now here to stay so how do we get better at combining online community with these events?
- ‘Hybridisation’ of events and communities across digital and in-person is the new normal.
- 'Community' teams and 'Event' teams need to be more connected to join up the experience and make the most of both.
- 'Events' and 'Community' need to become a seamless experience for participants to the point that the difference between the two melts away.
- If you link to a specific thread that is relevant to the event content being presented/discussed then you can drive 30%+ crossover engagement from event-to-community to 'continue the conversation'. Could work well for sponsors to answer questions and show thought leadership?
- Event speakers and panellists can continue to answer questions in the online community immediately after their event session.
- Events organisers can more proactively matchmake/introduce people in the online community after the event e.g. "you both attended the session on X so might want to connect to share learnings". Could do this for sponsors also if done carefully.
- Need to better understand how to move between more informal/unstructured environment, like community conversations online, and more formal/structured content experiences like events whilst maintaining the human connections and 'story arc'.
- Challenge of “Zoom fatigue” for virtual events. Live attendance rates dropping but on-demand viewing increasing. Opportunity to weave the community experience into this on-demand viewing also.
Improving engagement in the community
- How to re-engage community members particularly now with digital fatigue? Flash communities as an antidote to shrinking attention?
- How to break out of the "90-9-1 rule" to get active participation from more group members? Activelly call them out, @ mentions, mini-interviews with them, use events to re-kindle engagement etc.
- Getting participation from the right people not just the same ones all the time? Smaller groups, leader groups, guest experts, AMAs (Ask Me Anythings), revolve the host role etc.
- Building trust: more human connection (intros, events, profiles, informality, smaller groups etc.), privacy/consent, respect.
The business case and proposition for your community
- Shift towards paid membership and subscription models with community part of the proposition.
- How to define the value proposition of your community to make it worth paying for? What elements to include? What do members get? What do they actually value?
- How to capture the value from community conversations and events? Need to distill and give back the expertise (but not just chat).
- Pricing... different models and packaging, monthly/annual/multi-year, individual vs group/corporate, enterprise vs low touch SaaS etc.
- People skills required: community leaders, community managers, still hard to find and often not core enough to the business/operations.
- Getting the tech stack right: "all in one" vs "best of breed", buy vs build vs integrate, data integration challenges.
Thanks to Lee Gimpel of Better Meetings for doing an excellent job hosting our session.
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