Author: Helen Coetzee – 29/10/2020 ‘B2B communities’ is a topic that has gained serious momentum over the past few months. As uncertainty remains over the continued impact of Covid, businesses are looking to pivot to a business model that will deliver security and growth in the short and long term. This mirrors the sentiment the very communities these businesses seek to engage and build. Tremendous change is happening in all industries, and the sharing of information and connections within ‘business ecosystems’ is now more vital than ever. In a recent webinar, we invited three B2B community builders to discuss how they have built and engaged their communities over the past 6 months, and how they plan to proceed in this vein. Discussion ranged from the characteristics and ideal size and structure of a meaningful B2B community, to practical methods of monetising a community. You can access all the webinar insights, including the video replay, as well as attendee poll results and Q&A, produced by MPG and the panel. GET WEBINAR INSIGHTS Our panel had some firm views on what a community is, what a community isn’t and how to approach building meaningful communities going forward. Here we’ve pulled out 12 of the most interesting quotes from the session: “Controversially, I would say that an event isn’t a community. Or at least it isn’t ‘community’. It’s just one expression of the community. In the same way, if you have a local village community, the village fete isn’t the community – it’s just one manifestation of it.” Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild “Communities tend to have quite a clear sense of self, a bit like a strong brand or a strong culture which are quite hard to define or pin down. But you feel it.” Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild “Waiting for an (in person) event to happen wouldn’t be a great idea right now because our industry is moving so fast. We’re serving our community at the moment by streamlining the process of sharing information and reducing the barriers to communication” Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News “If you haven’t been engaging with your community in this (in-person events) ‘downtime’, you’re going to struggle longer term because you need to remain relevant. You need to remain something that your customers want to go to, regardless of whether physical events are happening or not.” Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets “At the start, we spent a lot of time just listening and talking to the strongest advocates within the industry itself that had already acknowledged themselves as community leaders. We went through all of the data and all of the knowledge that we could gain about that community to figure out our role within it and the new products and other things we could do to bring the community together.” Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets “Professor Robin Dunbar, who’s on our advisory board, is famous for the Dunbar number – which is one hundred and fifty. This is basically the maximum number of people we can really know. When we’re in some communities of many hundreds or thousands, the reality is we don’t really know them. It’s just beyond our brains as humans.” Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild “Events businesses are really great at that amazing physical in-person experience, but now they’ve had to very quickly get used to digital delivery and all the new skills involved.” Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild “At the heart of community is conversations and relationships, not content. Sometimes businesses think they can just set up a community, produce loads of content and pump it at people to succeed. But then it’s just a barrage of content that most of us don’t really need.” Ashley Friedlein – CEO & Founder, Guild “A lot of people rightly think ‘how do we make sure we still keep the core principles of our business?’ Don’t lose sight of that, because that’s what keeps the lights on while you’re exploring new ways of structuring your business model around communities. You could also risk losing the trust of that community if you do it wrong or maybe even try to monetise too quickly or in the wrong way.” Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News “In the next six months we’ll focus on engaging with our community to understand what content they want to see more of, what pain points and challenges they face and what they can do to support them.” Adam Parry – Founder & Director, Event Tech Live & Editor, Event Industry News “My plan is to think about what the next three years might look like. My strategy is to assume that live events don’t come back. Of course they will, but it’s useful to think about what we’d do without live events. How would I serve this community? What would I do differently? How would I bring them together 365? What do I need to put in place in order to make that happen?” Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets “We did something that was really appreciated; we were the first movers to actually get something out and bring them together. But we also really understood how they wanted to be brought together.” Anna Knight – VP Licensing, Informa Markets HEAR WHAT ELSE WAS SHARED Thank you to everyone that joined us live for this session. We have plenty more webinars and written resources in the pipeline, so make sure you’re subscribed to MPG Insights so you don’t miss out. Want to learn more about building a B2B community? Join our Engage. Monetise. Scale. Masterclass – an MPG Academy Open Course designed to help you define your community and build a strategy for continued engagement and monetisation.