Community Strategy Insights

The latest insights on community strategy, technology, and value by FeverBee’s founder, Richard Millington

Event-Driven Community Strategies: Aligning The Pieces Together

Richard Millington
Richard Millington

Founder of FeverBee

Are Your Events Strategic?

Are you hosting events because they serve a strategic purpose or because you simply like hosting events? 

And if your events do serve a strategic purpose, can you clearly state it?

Have you aligned the nature of that event to its strategic purpose? 

Are you measuring whether the event achieves its strategic purpose? 

If you’re like most people reading this, the answer to at least one of the questions above is probably no. It’s time to fix that.

Decide The Specific Purpose Of Your Events

The problem with getting strategic about events is you’re probably influenced by a feelings bias. 

It simply feels great to host events!  

People enjoy hosting events and attendees enjoy attending events.

This often means organisers typically don’t use or evaluate them as part of a strategy. 

Yet, events consume a lot of time and resources (believe me, we’ve hosted them). If you’re going to host an event, you should be very clear about what the purpose of that event is and check if you’ve achieved it. 

Too often, when we ask about the purpose of events, we get vague responses such as: 

“To bring people together”
“To connect our audience”
“To say thank you to our customers” 

These are nice sentiments, but they’re not strategic goals. 

It’s strategic when the purpose of the event connects to the purpose of the community and, subsequently, a value benefit for the organisation. 

You can see this in this table.

There are two key takeaways here.

First, the events you decide to host should be driven by your strategic goals.

Second, everything about the event should be aligned with its type.

Events tend to serve one of five goals.

  1. Attract new audiences. Events are a surprisingly good way to attract new audiences. Many communities began as events. It’s easier for people to invite others to attend an event than to join an online community.
  2. Drive engagement. The purpose of events might be to drive engagement within the platform. In these situations, the event is closely aligned with online activities. The challenge is sustaining this higher level of engagement once the event ends.
  3. Spread knowledge. The most obvious reason for a brand to host a community event is to spread knowledge. The more knowledge spreads throughout a community, the more likely customers can use products and services better. This should positively impact retention.
  4. Build a sense of community. Events are powerful tools to help foster a sense of community amongst an audience. They create clear boundaries between insiders and outsiders, foster shared rituals and traditions, and provide plenty of opportunities for people to find their tribe within the tribe.
  5. Increase member sentiment. This is perhaps the clearest-cut argument to host an event. Events can obviously increase the sentiment of people within the community and their feelings towards the brand. This is usually the most noticeable impact of hosting an event (yet also the least measured aspect).

The key is to decide which goal is most relevant to your event type and then align everything else about the event to optimise for it.

(Yes, you can select more than one, but be clear about what’s primary and secondary).

How Event Types Changes The Nature Of Events

We can go through these individually.

Attracting New Audiences

If you want to attract new audiences, I’d consider the following:

  • Focusing the event on industry or topic newcomers.
  • Making the event on a broader topic rather than a specific product.
  • Let members bring a friend or colleague for free.
  • Encourage speakers to bring their followers for free.
  • Invest in advertising to reach new audiences.
  • (or) Make the entire event free and sell sponsorships


Driving Engagement

If you want to drive more engagement on the community platform from an event, I’d suggest:

  • Live-streaming the event and encouraging comments.
  • Enabling voting on speakers in the community beforehand.
  • Offering opportunities to rate the talks.
  • Hosting breakaway groups based on topics discussed.
  • Encouraging speakers to promote sub-groups others can join for more information.
  • Initiating follow-up discussions and inviting speakers to participate in them.


Spreading Knowledge

If you want to spread knowledge, your activities should reflect that too. This might include:

  • Creating a simple summary of each talk.
  • Asking speakers to develop templates and takeaways which can be shared with the audience.
  • Inviting the members who share the best expertise in the community each month to give talks.
  • Identifying the biggest challenges in the community and asking members to create talks on those topics.
  • Having speakers follow a teaching-style template when giving talks.
  • Hosting workshops and events with qualifications people can earn from completing them.


Sense of Community

If the goal is to build a powerful sense of community, then align the event itself to achieve that goal. This might include:

  • Having a ritual for newcomers.
  • Assigning roles to members.
  • Creating a shared history which members learn.
  • Facilitate conversations which breed trust and high levels of self-disclosure.
  • Feature the best contributions from members.
  • Encourage or provide members with symbols they can wear (SWAG or dress codes).


Increase member/customer sentiment.

If the goal is to make members feel excited and supportive of the brand, then there are specific steps which can be taken to achieve that. This might include:

  • Having a well-known keynote speaker to give a motivation-focused course.
  • Announcing major product news or updates at the event.
  • Providing members with great SWAG.
  • Host good afterparties.
  • Select a venue which is interesting or exciting to be at.
  • Carefully consider the seating arrangements to provoke energy.
  • Have a great emcee for the event.

Can you do more than one at once? Yes. Most events do.

However, the more goals you attempt, the less likely you will do any of them well.

Ruthlessly Evaluate Each Event

It’s common practice after an event to issue a survey, get a relatively small number of responses, and then say “hey, we should do a better job on registration day”.

These lessons are quickly forgotten.

Instead, take feedback on the day of the event.

You ideally want to know two things.

  1. Determine which aspects of the event are most important to attendees (i.e. what do they really care about)? Force people to prioritise these. Don’t allow everything to be rated as ‘very important’.
  2. Discover how highly rated each aspect is. It’s important to distinguish between which activities matter to the audience and which they rate highly. Otherwise, you can invest a lot of time into activities which aren’t important to the audience.

For example, attendees might rate the food as below average but give it very low importance.

However, attendees might rate the speakers as average but give them critical importance.

This suggests you need to spend more time on the speakers.

Bonus Tip: If you have members hosting events on your behalf, create a template survey for them to send to their members and send back to you.

This lets you quickly ascertain what does work on a larger scale and share the best practices with other group hosts.

Use a framework like the one below to classify the feedback and develop an action plan to improve the event.

(This is adapted from our community strategy guide.)

Invest more time and resources in the things which are important and successful.

Try new approaches to things which were important but not successful.

Then either keep doing it or invest less time in the things which aren’t that important to the audience.

If you repeat this process after every event, you can gradually refine your process to have strategic events which deliver the best value to your audience.


Some recommendations here.

  1. Decide the purpose of your events EARLY. Events are costly to host. Be clear about their purpose and the value you expect to get from them. Don’t host them simply because it feels good.
  2. Select the right type of event to achieve your purpose. The list above isn’t definitive, but it’s a good place to start. Make sure you’re selecting the right type of event to achieve your goals.
  3. Ensure the key features of the event are in place for the event type. Each event type has different features. Make sure you have your key features in place to ensure your event can achieve its goals.
  4. Measure and improve the event. Use a survey (or interviews) to determine what is important to members about your event and how well they think you’re doing it at the moment. Then decide where to invest more or less time in the future.

Good luck!

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