Why Building an Event Community is Important in 2020 – Ben Costantini


I’ve always been skeptical with the use of the word “communities” in the business world. According to dictionary.com:

A community is a social, religious, occupational, or other group sharing common characteristics or interests and perceived or perceiving itself as distinct in some respect from the larger society within which it exists.

A community isn’t:

  • A directory
  • A freelance community manager
  • A Facebook / Slack / Telegram group
  • A member section of your website
  • A statement

For me, event organizers aren’t community builders per se. I’m not saying they can’t be good at creating elements of belonging that are similar to these groups, but events are temporary gatherings by definition. This is their strength.

So by this definition, I propose the words, “network” or “club” as more appropriate and descriptive as to what a number of self described “communities” actually are.

The recent evolution of the event industry was mostly focused on turning tradeshows and fairs into content marketing machines, with the rise of conference programs and educational initiatives.

Web Summit is living proof of this trend. What started as a small conference became one of the largest tradeshows in the Tech industry.

With social networks and in particular LinkedIn disrupting the way information and business relations were traded, some event organizers already understood that they needed to become platforms and that turning their audiences into communities would be both the most important and hardest task for them.

Renting square meters has nothing to do with a cult.

Initiatives launched by the World Economic Forum and TED are worth mentioning but their platforms are mostly an extension of the content/conference activity. It is not a community business.

You are not Reddit.

Community is the new moat

Investors are raging for communities and startups that built a following that goes beyond business. As reported in First Round Capital’s State of Startups in 2019, “nearly 80% of founders reported building a community of users as important to their business, with 28% describing it as their moat and critical to their success”.

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