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Content is king of community success, Tech Talk panel claims

The role of editors to “kick things off” is key to the success of 365 communities by creating strong content to draw in and engage members, an expert panel has heard.

Luke Bilton, ExpoPlatform’s chief growth officer, was among four speakers at the Virtual Events Institute’s Tech Talk on Thursday.

This latest session focussed on how organisers can build a community around their events and help improve that in-person experience.

A number of the panellists spoke about the importance of having someone responsible for creating engaging content to attract relevant audiences.

Luke said: “One of the key roles is to have someone whose job it is to to garden that community.

“They should interview influencers, shoot videos, write articles – their job to curate the experience.

“Then over time you might start getting some comments and a discussion going.

He added: “It comes down to having solid editorial skills, content editors and community managers, who schedule various activities going on a weekly or monthly basis.

“That could be things like meetups around particular niches, roundtables, advisory boards – you can use hosted buying programmes to pre-arrange meetings for people.

“Don’t just assume that AI matchmaking alone will be enough – you have to create a programme of engagement.”

It comes as the 365 engagement approach of communities has flourished over the last 18 months, when businesses were forced to rethink how they connect and inform their audiences.

It now provides a model for organisers to create year-round revenue and heighten their brand awareness using digital tools.

RD Whitney, founder of the Community Leaders Institute (CLI), claimed there are around 3 million professionals in the US who are already working in these associations.

Furthermore, there are more than 10 million people who describe themselves as community managers on LinkedIn.

Read our full interview with RD about the importance of communities.

RD, who is also 365 Media CEO, added: “There’s over 3 million professionals that are already engaged in this very ,very cool thing.

“The reason we launched Community Leaders Institute is because associations have been doing this for years – some of them have been doing it really well some have been doing it really poorly.

“Media companies and event companies are doing certain parts of it, corporations are doing it in very interesting ways.

“There’s a Harvard Business Review article about direct-to-community models now that is just really waking everyone up in marketing.

“They’re all using the power of community to get to create an audience, to add value to that audience.

“Then when you want that audience to take action, it’s right there as your community.

“So the power of that is great, but it’s not a hybrid event – it’s a year-round 365 community that I think is key.”

Meanwhile, he also told how became certain the community economic model was the way forward after seeing a TechCrunch headline earlier this year.

It claimed that the “chief community officer is the new CMO”, highlighting how companies are paying more attention to various channels as remote work and digital communication have become more widespread.

Meanwhile, 28% of start-up founders told a First Round survey that these associations were critical to their success – describing them as their business moat.

A 365 community can increase engagement year-round by delivering “always-on” content, marketplaces which can traffic leads over 12 months as well as virtual or hybrid events.

Vendors such as ExpoPlatform allow organisations to target potential customers and engage existing ones throughout the year, with a seamless experience from articles, to webinars, to hybrid events.

A robust engagement strategy drives participation all year round, allowing a company to generate a ready supply of leads and brand advocates to help it grow.

This is similar to a business-to-consumer subscription economy model which has seen a 435% surge over the last nine years, according to Zuora research.

The subscription model creates predictable, recurring revenue streams for businesses, and can be used by exhibition organisers to have suppliers subscribe for a year of activity rather than a one-off event.

This panel discussion comes after the launch of the Community Leaders Institute (CLI), which is the world’s first independent global educational body across the sector.

It is the brainchild of experts from the events, media and community industries – offering tools and training to professionals.