Surprise! I am Writing a Book About Virtual Events
After much encouragement from my friends, colleagues, and network, I decided to embark on the journey of writing a book on how to create engaging, digital-first conferences for communities. I am co-writing the book with Joep Piscaer, a good friend and someone I have worked closely with on the HashiCorp conference program over the last few years.
We do not claim to have all of the answers, and we do not have it all figured out, but our hope with this book is that it will serve as a framework and guide as people dive into building their own digital-first events and conferences for their communities. It will be a book filled with tips and most importantly, what worked for us at the various events we created.
It has been a really fun experience distilling what we have learned about community building, experiential marketing, conferences, and digital events over the years. We are getting close to sharing the end-result with the world. Stay tuned. Here is a little sneak peak.
Chapter 2. Why Events Matter
People crave human connection. They want to feel like they are a part of or connected to something. This is why people join groups, tribes, and communities. This is why those groups have face-to-face interactions. This is why companies and brands pay a lot of money to try to create those connections with audiences in live formats. The events industry is a multi-billion dollar industry. It still continues to be a force, even with a global pandemic; most of those efforts shifted to a digital format in 2020 and now in 2021.
For developer communities, because this is what Jana and Joep specialize in, conferences are as much about community interactions (new friends, old friends, networking, and job opportunities) as they are about education (workshops, training) and technology (what is new, what is trending). COVID-19 may have changed the landscape, but it has not changed people’s needs, and they are certainly looking for all these aspects in a digital conference.
We have noticed a growing trend over the last few years in the events industry to no longer see our jobs as event planners but as experiential marketers. Our job is to create a closer emotional connection between a company’s brand and community through physical and digital experiences we create. This is even more obvious in a digital format where we have to think through website strategy, technology, communication, interactive community building elements, branding, and so much more. We do this work because we want our community to form strong relationships with our brand, our employees, and the products/tools/services we build. This connection fosters brand advocates, moves prospects through the sales funnel, increases customer loyalty, establishes trust and credibility, and opens up channels for valuable community and customer feedback. On a more personal level, events changed people’s lives by offering a group to belong to, creating a strong network of like-minded peers to rely on for future job searches, career, and mental health advice. The benefits are significant and impactful. This is why events will never go away.
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