Event technology has become the foundation upon which we build our events. Unfortunately, the pandemic-related lockdowns prevented us from attending in-person events. Still, it brought forth technologies at break-neck speed that allowed event profs to normalize virtual experiences, provide asynchronous content delivery, and spark audience engagement that stretches far beyond events themselves.
The magic of in-person connection remains the most powerful tool in the event planners’ portfolio. But thanks to event technology, our events don’t have to end when the in-person portion is over. Instead, event professionals can create a year-round community where people can network, learn, and do business at their leisure on-demand. In this post, we explain all you need to know about this exciting event trend, including where you can build event communities and the perks of having one.
What is an Event Community?
An event community is an online space where attendees can meet other event-goers, strengthen their relationships, attend webinars, and engage with resources or on-demand content. Community members can access the community anytime throughout the year. Being available 24-7 online communities offer more flexibility and autonomy than traditional events.
Event communities live online in various ways. The event technology market boasts numerous event platforms that offer annual subscriptions. As such, they are turning into platforms with features that can help communities thrive, such as data analytics, gamification, and video meeting integrations. Event profs can also launch communities on social media platforms, such as LinkedIn and communication platforms like Slack.
Event Technology Transformed How We View Event Communities
Like the rest of the world, the events industry has transformed since 2020. If event technology was something that only concerned the most forward-thinking event planners before the pandemic, it’s now become the foundation upon which all event planners build their events. Virtual events are the new normal, and event communities are the next step in event evolution. In fact, 59% of companies plan to increase their investment in virtual event technology in 2022.
It’s easy to see why companies everywhere are investing more. Event technology solutions can keep our event communities continuously vibrant and engaging. Community members can access event platforms 24/7 year-round, much like using a social media platform. Therefore, it is much easier to add value to everybody involved in the event. Attendees can enjoy networking and monthly education sessions while being exposed to event sponsors and exhibitors who can now exhibit and gather leads all year-round.
Types of Online Communities
There are various types of online event communities. They can differ based on pricing and purpose. These are the most common examples:
- Paid member community with a one-time fee or a monthly/yearly subscription,
- A free public community that anybody can join,
- A community centered around a specific event, company, organization, or brand. These can be both paid or free, depending on the community.
Platforms for Online Communities
Event communities can live on several types of platforms. Event platforms are among the most prominent players in the event technology market and offer the most benefits. However, while investing in event technology always pays off, platforms often come with a hefty price tag. That’s why many event professionals decide to use online spaces that are free of charge.
Here are the most common platforms for online communities:
- Event platforms: These are great for hybrid events that need continuous attendee engagement, networking opportunities, places for virtual sponsors and exhibitor booths, or events that offer activities year-round on-demand. We use Pathable for the Northwest Event Show community.
- Learning management systems (LMS): Learning management systems are ideal for content-driven communities and communities that center around learning.
- Social media platforms: Social media is ideal for simple communities geared towards creating conversations that may not have a budget for more comprehensive technologies. Social media groups allow you to still have a group that can live on social media platforms, such as Facebook or LinkedIn groups, for zero costs.
- Business communication platforms: This is another cost-effective option for communities centered around help and conversation. For example, Event Profs Unite, a community of event professionals with over 1,400 members, meets on Slack. Members often post jobs and help each other solve industry problems.
Benefits of an Online Event Community
The benefits of an online event community prove that event technology is worth the investment. Communities can have a much higher ROI than individual events because audience engagement, brand promotion, and data you capture never end. Let’s explore some of the best benefits of online communities!
People attend events to meet new people and strengthen their pre-existing relationships. But why should networking be only limited to the time spent at the in-person event? Attendees can build relationships before, during, and after the in-person event in an event community, allowing connections to bloom year-round.
Added Value for Exhibitors
As mentioned above, communities don’t just add value to attendees. They are also a desirable business opportunity for exhibitors. Four out of ten event professionals and exhibitors in the US plan to increase virtual event spending. It’s easy to see why exhibitors and sponsors can promote their products or services to qualified leads year-round, which helps extend exhibitors’ reach and allows attendees to find new business partners well after the trade show floor has closed.
Increased Brand Awareness and Loyalty
By hosting your own community, people will be exposed to your brand consistently. But don’t just put a community up and leave it alone. To have positive brand awareness and position yourself as a thought leader, you’ll need to engage, offer helpful content, and plan micro-events frequently.
Additionally, make sure that your community members have a positive experience on your platform to increase brand loyalty. Ask for their feedback and offer content or events that the community asks for. If your audience feels seen and heard, they are much more likely to recommend your community to their peers.
Valuable Event Data
One of the most significant benefits of event technology solutions is the amount of data insights they offer. Most event platforms come with powerful analytics tools and reports, including session analytics, CE tracking, and exhibitor lead capture. This data gives you powerful insights into how members use your community, and what you can improve upon.
Event planners can leverage data to see what content resonates and plan better future events. For example, if you notice a particular type of session continuously brings in the most viewers, you could plan more content surrounding that topic. Additionally, they can prove the community’s ROI to key stakeholders and back up their claims with hard data.
Embrace Event Technology & 365 Communities
Now that we’ve gotten used to virtual and hybrid events, it’s time to get even more ambitious with our event strategies. Hopefully, you now understand how event communities work and that they are an outstanding foundation for promoting – and hosting – your events.
Below are the key takeaways:
- An event community is an online space where attendees can network, watch sessions, and interact with sponsors all year round rather than just at an in-person event.
- In the last two years, event technology has been widely adopted across the industry. As a result, it’s now expected for events to embrace it.
- Various types of event communities differ based on pricing and purpose.
- Event communities can live on event platforms, social media platforms, or communication platforms. Choose the technology that works best for you.
- Event communities come with many benefits, including continuous attendee engagement, increased brand awareness, added value for sponsors, and more data insights into your audience.
Ready to learn more? A great way to learn more about event communities is to join one yourself. The NWES has a thriving online event community hosted on Pathable. Join for free and enjoy many perks, including networking, learning, and exploring the exhibit hall! We’ll see you there!