As a digital strategist, you could say I’m also a conference junkie. It’s part of my job to attend conferences, to work at them or even to speak at some. I guess you could say I’m a conference snob; so when I attend, I fully expect to be either entertained or educated or both. The CMX Summit bills itself as “the premier conference for the world’s leading community professional.” Premier is an understatement. CMX is one of the most valuable conferences I have ever attended in terms of learning. This was not a huge conference with competing sessions. There was one session per time slot with 11 total speakers, all experts in communities.
Communities, you ask? Like YMCA? Uhm, well kind of… But we’re talking in a broader sense, more about communities centered around technological things, business things, or event-driven things. CMX Summit drove home one major message about communities – they’re here to be built and maintained. Building and maintaining them is easier said than done. These three takeaways from CMX Summit should help understand how to keep a community alive and well:
1. Communities are great for product development and testing. Not only do they help your company by making your product better, but also asking them for feedback or beta testing increases their loyalty. A brand that fosters an active community and listens to their advice shows that they value their input. Alex Dao of Vimeo pointed out, “Our communities rely on us to gather feedback and act on it.”
2. Community building is measurable (albeit, not easily!). Evan Hamilton of Coursera let us know that the measurement goes beyond engagement. He believes that communities can drive the bottom line; and by that I mean, acquisition and retention. Acquisition can be defined by whether community members are more likely to make purchases, upgrade or drive referrals, while retention lets you look at turnover and spend of community members.
3. To have a solid community and increase commitment to the group, leadership is vital. That said, David Marquet, author and former Marine Captain, filled us in on a secret – “The most important community is the organization itself.” So to increase commitment within, you’ve got to empower your volunteers/employees to critically think for themselves (rather than follow orders), as this creates agency (the ability for one to act independently and make their own free choices) and passion.
While I’ve limited my takeaways to three, I could have easily written 500. Lucky for us, every one of those choice 11 speeches were recapped on the CMX blog via individual articles. Check them out and like me, you’ll start to feel a part of the amazing CMX community. I’m so thankful that Domain.ME sponsored the event and sent me as their representative.