Conference News October 2022 | Page 42

42 Interview


Community is the key to driving events forwards . Martin Fullard talks to Totem ’ s Alex Hughes and Informa Connect ’ s Sarah Lock to learn more he Covid-19 pandemic expedited a change in behaviour when it came to events . The industry has changed , and now rather than a two-dimensional transaction between speaker and delegate , community members themselves are able to dictate what they want , when they want it , and to be able to absorb it over whichever medium they choose .
Alex Hughes is co-founder of Totem , a 360-degree events platform , he explains that behavioural change has revealed an exciting time for events . “ Every business event has always been about community . If you run events , if you build an audience , and create content , community is fundamental to success ,” he says .
“ What has changed is that communities at events tend to be siloed , and historically you met once or twice a year . The pandemic has completely changed everything , creating a widespread shift to online ; it ’ s a paradigm shift .
“ We ’ ve started to see communities within communities – community segmentation , giving you lots and lots of data , which is basically why we built Reef .”
Hughes describes Reef as an ecosystem for organiser ’ s live and on-demand content .
With its in-depth reporting function , it can map that data
across the ecosystem . Hughes notes : “ This starts to give you indications of the strength of your events and communities and where new revenue opportunities might be created .”
Hughes says that people today are more selective of which events they attend , and that having a community rich in content is a necessity .
“ There ’ s not as much face-to-face work as there used to be , we use available platforms to communicate , there ’ s a lot of hybrid working , and this is all evidence of a behaviour shift ,” he notes . “ People will be much more selective about what they choose to attend . You ’ re going to need to work a lot harder to get people to those live events . And that , for me , is where building a rich , a diverse and a long-lasting community really comes in .”
How to build a community
How do you build a community ? “ That ’ s the million-dollar question , isn ’ t it ?” says Hughes . “ You need to start small , you need to take people on a journey .
“ My advice would be to start small , test and learn and have an iterative approach and pick a niche within your niche . Don ’ t try and do everything at once . Your audience is there , and they know best . Grow that niche and integrate to generate what we call the “ flywheel effect ”.
“ The flywheel effect is going to be fundamental to what you want to do within growing a community . Great content will attract an audience that then attracts your sponsors . The flywheel starts to turn and that will ultimately then lead to growth .”
Hughes says it is important to understand that the best content can often derive from the community members themselves . “ That ’ s an www www . . conference-news . .. co uk. uk