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Opinion

The Importance of Events and Maintaining Community in the Influencer Industry

In 2017, if you had asked me what characterised a content creator event, I would have said content creators dressed to the nines with a DSLR around their necks. Flower walls, neon signs, and other Instagrammable moments around the place. Pretty drinks and swag bags full of goodies.

If a content creator was from out of town, they would have traveled in just for the occasion. Why? Because these events are for forging connections and building networks – to meet like-minded creatives and to connect with brands. These events are some of the few occasions that individuals could meet with the people behind the brands. I specifically remember being thrilled at the number of business cards I had collected as well as all the brand leaflets carefully placed in my bag on the tube ride home from the various events.

Content creator events were a new shiny thing to be a part of for both attendees and brands. On both sides, the business cards collected, the swag bags given out, and the social media mentions were typically enough to encourage interest and investment. 

However, as the years of attending went on, traditional metrics began to creep into meetings. Event organisers needed to figure out how to justify the spend of their event to brands and vice versa; brands needed to justify their overall spend to inhouse teams. Which makes sense, as it’s all about tangible results, right?

Influencer events create a lasting impression

What appears to have happened in the last few years is we have become obsessed with these results. The mentions, the impressions, the reach. All very quantifiable things. Especially with the last year and the phenomenon we daren’t speak the name of, budgets are tighter than ever. It’s been a tough year for the marketing and events industry. Events have been canceled, companies have gone out of business and at this point, a lot of us are doing what we can to survive. 

But the thing about an industry that began on social media, is the importance of just that: ‘social’ activity. Interaction with other humans. Connections with living beings. While a lot of the industry may rely on digital, we ourselves as humans are anything but robotic. And wasn’t the original aim of ‘social’ media to be ‘social’ with others? To keep up to date with everyone, no matter where you are.

A need to connect

Who else remembers the phase where Twitter chats and other routine conversations were all the rage? Connecting daily, weekly, monthly with other creatives from all parts of the industry and globe. It was new, it was exciting. But even with the number of ways we found to communicate with each other, we eventually break off into WhatsApp group chats and private DMs and solely interact with the people who we met (you guessed it) at live events.

Deeper connections were made by individuals, but what about the wider community? The next generation of content creators and brands coming in. How do we maintain interest in our brands? Particularly during a time when we’re just trying to get through each day? Because the thing about the pandemic is that it was always destined to end. We were always going to come back together again in person. There will always be people interested in joining the community to network and learn from each other.

Events have really helped me to expand my network and learn valuable skills.”

Hayley Ellis @wildeversince.

After a tough year, audiences are going to be looking at the brands who supported them. Who helped them through the tough times and provided light? Who showed humanity? And this is what our audiences will be seeking moving forward.

After a year of minimal contact with others from the community, people will want to come back together. So what makes a great content creator event and what can we prioritise as an industry in the next year? 

  1. Create interactive brand awareness: How can you bring your brand to life? I applaud brands who have sent out collateral or hosted interactive sessions for virtual events. In this way, attendees can hold pieces of their brand in their hands and experience it for themselves in their homes. This will be particularly relevant to keep in mind as live events begin taking place again. Attendees remember the stalls with games and selfie props with the chatty, approachable representatives.
  2. Prioritise the long-term community over the short-term customer: While the umpteenth virtual pub quiz may have seemed tedious and not profitable at the time, providing a way for people to come together and have company is something they’ll always remember.

    Finding ways that brands can mingle as well as network with content creators will make for a brilliant way to maintain an engaged community moving forward. People follow people after all. Also, consider national and international connectivity too.
  3. Consider the non-measurables like inspiration, creativity, and reputation: Non-measurables like the community spirit and the sense of belonging are what made social media so special and popular in the first place. From being the brand that shows the industry where it’s going next to simply brightening someone’s day with your take on the latest Instagram trend.

Content creation and social media are two spaces that are consistently evolving and changing, but the demand for events will always be there. It’s a fast-paced industry that will always encourage conversations and spaces to come together.

Content creator events offer a perfect opportunity for those with shared interests to connect and form community. From my experience of the events I’ve had the privilege to host, there’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the sparks of conversation fly as new acquaintances express their passion on a topic, having found a place to do so.”

Deborah Widdick @globelletravels

How will events be approached moving forward? 

The key for brands moving forward will be to maintain awareness of what our communities are interested in. In 2017, it was flower walls, in 2021, it’s human interaction. In 2022? We’ll see. The point is that even with the many ways we can now stay connected digitally, there will always be an interest in spending time with friends and connections. 

No matter what the other team objectives are, we can never go wrong in maintaining ways for our community to experience the life and soul of our brand. This is what inspired me to start the Content Creator Calendar account on Instagram. An account to showcase upcoming virtual and live events in the content creator industry. When you’re ready, tag your next event to share and be a part of bringing the community together again. 

1 comment

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