Imagine you’re reconnecting with friends at a favorite event and want to share your good time with the world. So, you snap a few photos and post them with hashtags on your social channels. Whether you realize it or not, you just created community-driven content. Community content commands huge trust on the Internet today. Just like IKEA followers want to view couches in real customers’ homes, attendees like to see events through the eyes of their peers.
Unsure how this marketing strategy can help make your events bigger and better than ever?
In this article, you’ll learn all about community content and get tips for making the most of it to:
- Build your event’s reputation
- Boost attendance and engagement
- Drive referrals and recommendations
- Improve the attendee experience
Let’s dive in…
What is community content?
Community content is communication for and by a group of people with similar values and interests. When a community forms around a brand, it taps into members’ emotional and social needs, creating strong bonds among themselves and the brand they love.
Community content takes many forms, including images, videos, Tweets, product reviews, testimonials, podcasts, blog posts, live streams and more.
Picture attendees sharing unboxing videos of branded gifts on YouTube and posting glowing testimonials about your event on Instagram. This is community content in action.
Why is community content important now?
Let’s start by understanding a big chunk of your audience.
While each event is different, it’s worth knowing Millennials and Gen-Z make up 42 percent of the world population today. You probably recognize a key quality of this cohort: Millennial and Gen-Z consumers value authenticity and listen to “their people,” instead of marketing messages.
It’s not just consumers who place authenticity in high esteem. In fact, 93% of marketers agree consumers believe content created by customers more than they trust content developed by brands.
Competition for online audience attention today is fierce. With brands working harder than ever for visibility, authenticity is key. Effective community content delivers just that.
- Is genuine and purposeful
- Compels people to think, feel, act, and share
- Listens to members and adapts to fit their needs
- Gives your biggest fans a bigger voice
- Creates user-generated stories amplified by your brand
How to Create a Winning Strategy
Think of community content as socially enhanced, turbo-charged word of mouth.
Follow the five steps below to take advantage of this proven approach to build interest in your events… influence decisions to register and attend… and improve attendee and partner success.
Step #1: Identify Your Community
Some brands boast millions of customers. But that doesn’t mean they have a community.
What’s the difference between a user base and a community?
Unlike a user base, a community is a space for people with a similar mission and interests. Members share influence on an ongoing basis. Traditions and actions strengthen the culture. Members have a sense of kinship and responsibility to each other. They feel special for belonging to the group.
Although communities were around before the Caveman Era, brand communities are fairly new on the scene. Customers today are bonding with fellow fans of their favorite brands, including the events they love to attend.
Step #2: Create a Space for Your Community
While many communities live on networks like Facebook and LinkedIn, there’s a growing trend for events to host their content and community on their virtual event platforms.
If you have the resources, having everything integrated on your own platform gives you greater control of data privacy and security.
It also enables you to decide what goes on within this space. Content keeps members engaged within your community. No need to send them to another network, where they might click on a related video or ad from a competitor.
What’s more, creating a space for your community to gather gives you a chance to monitor conversations around vital topics for deeper understanding. Active community members share a goldmine of information. Let these insights inspire new ideas for content that speaks to the hearts and minds of “your people.”
Step #3: Listen to Your Community
There’s no doubt about it. The best source for content ideas often comes from paying attention to the things members say to you and each other within the community.
This user-generated content can help you quickly pinpoint attendees' and prospects’ interests and needs, such as these below:
- Problems they must solve
- Questions they need answered now
- Tools they like using (or wish they had)
- Topics, speakers, and activities they want more of
- Preferences for attending in person or virtually
- Qualities of your event they adore (or not)
With so much content online, organizers often ask how they can possibly break through the noise.
In our experience, it’s not about volume. Sure, online content has grown exponentially. But the Internet is lean on curated content that fills specific audience needs.
Effective community management means gathering valuable business intelligence and coming up with fresh content tailored to your audience’s exact questions, goals, and challenges. This customized content plays a big role in filling the vacuum.
Our industry boasts vast resources, innovative technologies, and talented subject matter experts. Providing relevant, exciting content to specific audience segments is something event-focused communities are uniquely positioned to do.
Step #4: Put Members in the Limelight
Clearly, the better you know members, the stronger your community will be. So, how do you deepen your understanding and expand community influence? One of the most effective strategies is user-generated content.
Here’s how this works:
Ask inspiring, connected people you know to share their insights on key topics. Your content creators can be existing or potential community members, including customers, partners, friends, and influencers in the industry. Inviting these people to contribute is a great way to make them feel involved – and get meaningful content.
Leveraging user-generated content to deepen your fan base offers many other advantages as well. For example, it:
- Gives you and your attendees ongoing opportunities to learn something new
- Helps ensure content reflects the views of your community
- Adds variety, so content isn’t always about your brand or event
- Extends reach when content contributors share with their networks
- And more
When requesting user-generated content, be flexible about deadlines. Also, make the instructions and purpose of the content clear. We find people are pleased to share their knowledge and opinions when they have the time.
Step #5: Engage VIPs
Another key to successful community management is to identify VIPs and empower them to advocate on your behalf.
VIPs aren’t necessarily your big spenders. They’re the community members who talk about your event most online and offline, yielding influence over your community and growing it in the process.
To identify your VIPs, find out who:
- Mentions your brand or event most on social media
- Sends you the most referral traffic from their social networks and websites
- Jumps at the opportunity when you request attendee experience interviews
- Shows the highest engagement during your events
See which names pop up the most, and voila! You’ve found your VIPs.
Since these advocates have such passion for your event or brand, they’re prime candidates to reach out to for user-generated content.
You’ll discover countless ways to get VIPs involved.
For example, ask them to participate in an invitation-only group to provide feedback on social media marketing and other copy before it goes live. Also, invite them to give you their opinions on campaigns that are still in the works.
Involving VIPs is a great way to ensure your campaigns resonate with attendees. Plus, VIPs are more likely promote the campaigns they help you create.
Build a Thriving Community
A strong community will reward you in spades with loyalty, referrals, recommendations, engagement, user-generated content, and more. Understand members’ evolving needs. Then create rich community experiences and content that make relationships stronger and keep members coming back. Marketing and event profs who do this right will build communities that speak to their audience’s top interests and needs and set their events up to flourish now and for years to come.
Ready to build up your brand community? See how MeetingPlay + Aventri’s game-changing technology for live, virtual, and hybrid events can help you deepen the bond with your audience.