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Value is key to monetizing digital event communities

VEI hosted a panel discussion today at the Intrado Digital Media Summit and the panelists were Sophie Ahmed, CEO of VEI; Paul MacDonald, founder and managing director of Unity53; Ricardo Molina, co-founder and director of BrightBull Marketing; and Emma Hilditch, content director of VEI.

Sophie Ahmed, co-founder and CEO of the Virtual Events Institute (VEI), said: “Tailoring your value proposition to the needs of your macro and micro communities is key to monetizing digital events.”

With event brands and organizers embracing digital more than ever before, the approach to building and monetizing online communities should be “two-fold”, according to Ahmed. Speaking at the one-day virtual event, organized by Intrado, Ahmed said: “Organizers should focus on indirect ways to drive revenue, which means getting closer to your community through increased customer touch points and market insight. This allows you to understand their behavioral and emotional patterns, which you can translate back into your product to ensure your product is always evolving to the needs of your market. This will mean your audience gets more value and then are more likely to become brand ambassadors.”

On the topic of more direct approaches to monetization, Ahmed stated that strong digital communities “lead quite naturally to the sought-after subscription model” that is tailored to the “different needs of your micro communities”.

MacDonald agreed that placing community at the heart of your offering will be key to event success in the future and added that a major way to build community is by contributing positively to the environment and society. He recommended that if organizers want to position their business or event in the “beating heart of their community, they must elevate themselves to have a greater sense of purpose than simply generating ever-growing revenues, profits, and number of visitors or sales.”

The talk moved on to community size and engagement. Molina pointed out that traditionally the aim was to build big communities but now the focus is on creating highly engaged “micro communities of between 200 and 1,000 members.” On engagement, Molina added that a typical benchmark for engagement is to have 1% of your audience who are highly engaged, 9% who are active, and the remaining 90% will be less active but will be consuming information and receiving value.

Intrado’s third annual Digital Media Summit continues throughout today (11 December).

For more on monetizing virtual events, you may be interested in our blog: Attendees to Virtual Events: To Charge or Not to Charge?


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