Events and communities are inextricably linked. And while the concept of community is undeniably amazing, cracking the code to create and sustain one hasn't always been easy.
At Swapcard, we took a step into the world of community-building with Evolve at the onset of the pandemic, which saw some success despite the industry's primary focus on survival.
Now, a few years later, the industry's perspective has shifted, with a growing appreciation for the significance of community in shaping the future of events.
Matt Snodgrass, former Director of Social and Community and now the Marketing Director at Swapcard, introduces us to Swapcard Connect, the gateway to event success. Connect is for organizers who want to have their own communities but aren’t sure what it takes, how to do it, or who should be part of it. Let’s dive in!
Matt, how does Swapcard envision the Connect community shaping the future of the events industry? What role do you see community-driven platforms playing in the industry's evolution?
Events and communities go hand in hand. Period.
We know how amazing, fun, and inspirational in-person events are, right? The holy grail every event organizer is chasing is to prolong that magic after the event.
It’s not a code anyone’s been able to crack yet, but community is a big part of that.
By providing a place where people with common interests (whether it’s personal or professional, brand-based or idea-based) can come together, organizers can keep attendees engaged during those slower “in-between” times from one event to another. It’s happening in pockets here and there, but it will be a key driver of innovation within the event industry over the next several years.
You already see this trend in user group-focused events like Salesforce’s Dreamforce and Adobe’s Summit. This playbook can be expanded to almost all event types, and we’re excited to be at the forefront.
We’ve been working on a community module within the Swapcard platform for the past few years, and we’re big fans of “eating our own dog food,” so we’re looking forward to seeing the platform in the wild and hearing from our own community members about what they want from it.
Many organizers want their own communities but aren’t sure what it takes, how to do it, or who should be part of it.
That’s why Connect exists - to help provide people with the blueprint for what to do (and what not to!). In other words, watch where we mess up and make sure you don’t do the same thing. 🙂
With the rapid adoption of virtual and hybrid events, the event industry is gradually transforming, giving rise to unique challenges and opportunities for event professionals.
How will the Connect community facilitate knowledge sharing and best practices for navigating this changing landscape?
Connect–or any community, really– is all about the people. It’s a place to come together, share ideas and best practices, and, most importantly, help one another.
David Spinks once said, “A community works well when people are willing to make your problem their problem.” That’s the sign that your community is doing what it should be and that people are invested - and I couldn’t agree more.
We’re still experiencing a lot of uncertainty within the events industry, and this uncertainty isn’t going to resolve itself overnight.
People need to know that they don’t have to face it alone–even if they’re the only event organizer in their company–they’ve got a family of thousands of others at their back, lifting them up, helping them shoulder the burden, and sharing their learnings to help everyone get better.
This is one of those “rising tide lifts all ships” moments, you know?
In the past, Swapcard released the Evolve community. Could you shed some light on its status? How is the Connect community different, and what can one expect?
Evolve was amazing! It was our first true community built out during the pandemic, created to help people adopt virtual events. It was new and exciting: everyone was looking for ways to connect during those “dark days,” and it was great for a while.
But we realized two things:
- The industry wasn’t ready for “community.” The main focus was on survival and recovery (understandably!), and they weren’t ready to jump into the deep end yet.
- Maintaining an engaged and thriving community requires resources, and, similar to several other tech companies, we faced resource challenges during and coming out of COVID.
Connect allows us to take what we learned from Evolve and apply it to a “same but different” setting.
We’re a few years on, the industry has evolved, people are thinking more about community and what it means for events, and we’re able to get people excited about this in a way they may not have been before.
What would you say if you had to pitch the Connect community to event professionals and convince them to join today in just one sentence?
One sentence? You’re really putting me on the spot here! I’d say that it will be a place to do three things:
- Learn from and connect with other event organizers who are facing the same challenges and frustrations
- Influence the direction of the Swapcard community module—we’ll be building what you want
- Help one another–which is, really, the most important thing
How will the Connect community contribute to its members' professional development and career growth? Are there any plans for educational resources, mentorship programs, or industry certifications within the community?
Absolutely! Educational content is a key component of Connect. There are many opportunities to provide excellent learning, whether through event recaps, repurposing session content, or creating brand-new training courses.
Within Connect, members will be able to take advantage of the Swapcard Academy courses, specially-designed workshops, and master classes. They will have easy access to the entire Swapcard content library of articles, ebooks, videos, and more. The idea is to make this your one-stop shop for all things event-related!
In today's fast-paced digital world, how will the Connect Community stay agile and adaptable to meet the evolving needs and expectations of its members? Are there any mechanisms in place for gathering feedback and incorporating suggestions into the community's development?
I feel like I keep using this same word, but again, “Absolutely!”
Connect is in its infancy. It is in the early access stage. At this stage, we’ll be looking to our users to share with us what they want more of, what’s working and what’s not, and to build this collectively from day one. In the end, we’re all on the same team!
To that end, we’re looking for community ambassadors to help spread the word, as well as an advisory board selected from our early adopters and most active users. If you’re interested in either, please let us know by writing to email@example.com