The secret sauce to build & grow your community!
“Community is a powerful thing” states Ashley Smith, Venture Partner of OpenView. In fact, building a strong trustworthy community can be the biggest asset a company can have. More than capital, money, technology or product, the community can help your company exceed its goals and reach its vision. Easy to say, but not that easy to build! Creating events for your community might be the secret weapon! This is why & how.
Community, like events, connects people together around a topic, an interest or simply relationships. It provides a safe space to share ideas and create opportunities for collaboration to all members. When properly built, a community of like-minded people can become a surprisingly efficient and effective tool for exploring and solving problems together. Community building takes more than just community management on Facebook or Whatsapp. It is not the systematic result of heavy investment in branding and marketing. It needs strategy, trust and network effects. And the three can be built using community events.
Community, like events, connects people together around a topic, an interest or simply relationships.”
First, in terms of strategy, the community should be at the heart of the company’s vision, values and missions. In fact, Steve Sigh, Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group, states that the future of Corporations is to be Community Centric. This community includes not only the shareholders, the managers and the employees but also the clients, the associations, the universities and civil society. Their contribution to developing an inclusive strategy, a shared vision and a common-ground of values is vital to company robustness in the long term. Companies organize at least one per year strategic days events. These events gather major stakeholders to rethink the business and frame the vision. Once done, every member of the community develops a higher appropriation of the vision and a stronger engagement to its execution.
Second, trust is certainly the most important asset a company can build. A social network is composed of the bonds built between individuals in the same group. The strength of every social network depends on the trust between all of its members. Therefore, companies should be able to build a trustworthy relationship with their community. An example is the Apple Community. In fact, Apple has been able to build a strong and persistent community thanks to credibility, sincerity and excellent customer service with customers. When you ask the Apple community about why they are loyals, they are likely to use statements like “ I love apple” , “I can’t replace it”, “I can’t live without it”. Apple has built strong emotional connections with its community and gives customers confidence that they are investing in the best possible brand. To foster this community trust, Apple holds three to four events per year. There’s usually a spring event in March, the Worldwide Developers Conference in June, a September event on iPhone and Apple Watch, and sometimes an October event if there are iPads or Macs expected in the fall (Source: see more on Apple events here). The multiplicity of events illustrates the Apple focus to build strong communities/products fits.
Third, communities are built through a network effect! Some people would call it a “viral effect”. However the latter is unpredictable, uncontrollable and uncertain. In 2016, Pokémon Go went insanely viral. Very quickly it crashed! This kind of virality is not a suitable and sustainable community building approach. According to Ashley Smith, there are, however, more predictable and controllable ways to harness viral and network effects. These non-magic approaches are based on:
- How to show Product/Value quality? make it easy to understand, use alternative demonstration materials and invite community members to co-create your product during events. Webinars, MasterClasses, Info sessions are certainly an easy way to train your community on your products and create “aha moments”.
- How to create Intrinsic shareability?: Make it easy for users to demonstrate and share the value of your product by enabling a variety of sharing methods, including online, hybrid and in real life experiences.
- How to collaborate easily? facilitate collaboration between community members whether they are remote or physically present and enable online-onsite collaboration. Hybrid events are ideal for that.
The network effect is a powerful multiplier: for every new member of the community there is a coefficient of at least 2 other members, and so on…. Companies, organizations and startups can build the network effect with varied techniques. Here are 4 practical techniques to keep in mind when creating your community events:
- Word-of-Mouth: The key to WoM is simple: have a product/value that is so awesome people just can’t stop talking about it. The value proposal should be clear, unique, fresh and surprisingly distinctive. Your participants should feel privileged to attend your event so that they can’ts stop sharing and talking about it. The content quality of your events should be innovative, memorable and continuously improving. This applies also to products and services. A good example of a Service Word-of-Mouth virality is the amazing scale-up of Colibri: a Tunisian Startup that creates decent and sustainable jobs by organizing the door-to-door collection of recyclable waste from households and businesses. Colibri started in the post-covid era by providing recycling containers to only 3 families in Tunis. In less than 2 years, they reached +3000 collecting points without spending a penny in digital marketing. Families were so happy by the service that they spread the word like fire and recommended it to their friends.
- Incentivized WoM: Sometimes WoM needs a small push, something extra that might provide additional incentive to take action and to spread the word. This incentive could be a discount on the product itself, access to premium features, or it could be something completely separate from the product like a gift card or good, old fashioned cash. For instance, according to OpenView, PayPal ran a very successful incentivized WoM campaign in its early days, giving users $10 in cash for each friend they referred. Evey.live provides a Freemium offering to its SaaS platform. In fact, users can create unlimited virtual events, for free and use a referral system to grant every partner organizer. During events, offering discounts to partner communities is likely to push viral effects.
- Demonstration Virality: People like talking about actions! Nothing better than an exciting experience can show your product. Instagram got a nice boost when they integrated sharing tools that allowed users to post their Insta photos on other social networks (Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Also, events are usually a great way to show your community how your product works, to experiment it and to share excitement with other friends. Giving the capacity to run events without any commitment often leads to feeling of appropriation.This demonstration is likely to boost consistent virality.
- Infectious Virality: This approach works perfectly for products that intrinsically are community based. These products could be collaboration platforms such as Miro, Slido, Mentimeter or meeting-and-communication-related products like Calendly, Slack. Events platforms should be able to integrate these community engaging solutions and have built-in solutions to facilitate user experience. At Evey, we make sure to provide event organizers with an easy way to integrate any collaboration tools on the event platform through a simple iframe. The platform Evey.live provides also an easy to use matchmaking app that facilitates connections between participants based on interests or motives.
Community engagement is a very serious and strategic point for startups, organizations and companies. It has to be implemented consciously with a clear action plan. Events are a great way to engage your community and build solid bonds. Here are the major takeaways, you should think about when building your event:
- Start early: Engage your community early on the event design process by inviting them to co-create, prioritize topics and identify key speakers. Incentivize your partners to invite their community members through special discounts and offerings.
- Use an engaging event platform: Your event platform should be inclusive and engaging. Make sure to offer online collaboration and access in multiple ways and languages. This will foster community dedication. Facilitate matchmaking during your event by creating networking opportunities online and onsite!
- Propose creative content: If you want your content to be viral, be different! Take risks, invite VIPs… this will create a World of Mouth and increase the network effect.
- Share event results: The event is just an opportunity to engage your community. The engagement should continue post events by sharing event reports and communicating on key results. Engage also your community in the monitoring and evaluation and in the preparation of the next event!
Evey Team has built a strong community and knowledge in community building through events. Feel free to reach out to us to discuss and see how we can join our forces to succeed your events and have a stronger engagement. Book a meeting here
OpenView; BUILD Product Led Growth: The End User Era; Copyright © 2019 ; Boston, MA
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The secret sauce to build & grow your community!
The secret sauce to build & grow your community!
Comment créer des événements hybrides réussis?