Digital Event Strategy: A Master Class in 365 Community Engagement from PCMA’s Sourabh Kothari

I think we can all agree: engagement has changed forever.

PCMA’s 2022 Convening Leaders event, a fully hybrid experience with JUNO’s companion mobile app, displayed what new engagement can feel like. With a live attendance of over 2,000 and 480 attendees tuning in virtually, their hybrid event experience created a long-overdue connection for PCMA members all over the world, no matter where they were.  

A standout session Digital Event Strategy. Mastering Year-Round Community for Customer and Employees featured DES advisor and Best in Class Speaker Sourabh Kothari, Co-Founder and CEO of Mindcurrent. If you missed the live session, you can watch it on-demand in the CL library on PCMA.JUNOLive.com.

“Most digital communities online fail, and they fail in their second year,” said Kothari boldly at the start of the session.

“Your marketing team is going to have to work with you hand-in-hand, or your digital community will fail. No matter how large or how big you start, you will have to maintain an always on membership or user acquisition strategy because there will always be churn and during the pandemic people are churning faster. Our attention spans are just toast. If your members don’t get value out of your community, then they are gone.”

Creating a 365 community for your brand or association members requires an always on approach, where users have the flexibility to lean in to their community for support. But as Kothari notes, if value begins to dip and connectivity weakens, your users will start to lose value and leave. Don’t panic. If you missed the session or need a quick breakdown, we’re here to break down some key takeaways from the DES expert.

Kothari’s 5 Fundamentals of Digital Communities:

How do you join?

Say goodbye to registration and hello to new user identification.

“The first thing to keep in mind that is fundamentally different from an event is that people do not register for a community; it is not a stand-alone experience. They join you as a user,” said Kothari. “When it is not useful for them, they will leave. These are not attendees in your digital community if you want this to work. They are users, they are members.”

In a year-round virtual community, people will come and go like in an active ecosystem. Make sure your platform can easily allow for new user identification and connection opportunities so you can continue to grow your user base within your community.

How do you participate?

It’s important to remember that participation in a community is often felt through a lean in approach. Again, get out of that event mindset. Participation isn’t always about logging on and surfing around a platform. It involves direct interaction with other community members. It must also be a place where members can have discussions and problem-solve around their needs.  

Why and how often do you participate?

Kothari notes the five different user types below with their frequency of use below.

Passive Users (little to no activity): Passive users are those who are already out the door, but can also include inactive lurkers. These are users who just aren’t getting the value they need from your community.

Active Users (bi-weekly, monthly use): Active users are checking into the community on a bi-weekly or monthly basis and are often keeping up-to-date with what is going on. These users do differ from authors because they aren’t necessarily creating content within the community nor actively chatting in discussions as often.

Authors (weekly, bi-weekly use): These are users who often contribute to posts, discussions, and lean into the community on a weekly basis. Authors are users who are active in your community, participating in chat feeds, getting certified, networking and attending community-wide events.  

Power Users (daily, weekly use): Power users are your top contributors within the community and are often checking into the community on a daily basis.

Admins (daily use by leaders): These are the users necessarily to run and moderate your community.  

“It is not a linear journey; it's a perpetual journey. You can also very easily slip back down and how that happens to your users is largely up to the community host,” notes Kothari.

You’ll see that you and your staff are some of the most important users of the community. Don’t discount the role community management plays in maintaining your new ecosystem. As admins of the community platform, it is important to maintain experiences within the community to keep users engaged. For users who are passive or active, it's important for admins to reach out and engage with these users so they feel more connected to the whole. Kothari reminds us to think about the customer lifecycle.

If trust can be established alongside value, users will begin to evolve to authors and power users.

What is your community culture?

At the end of the day, your community is about bringing certain people together and if your members and users trust the community as a whole, they will stay engaged. Your ecosystem can sustain itself with the right culture. Create an atmosphere within your community so people understand who you are and what you can provide to them that sets you apart from the rest. Find your value and meet your members where they are to deliver it to them, and they will become your best ambassadors of your mission.

Want more? For more on building 365 community, engagement and cultivating value, check out our library of ebooks and schedule a demo with our team for your 1:1 strategy call and personalized JUNO demo.