I don’t know about you, but covid has made me rethink so much about community. And especially what community means from a business perspective. We’ve been pushed into rethinking almost everything we do.
Ministry of Testing, a company I founded, had a large part of its income from irl events. So come covid, it has naturally been a big punch in the face. Luckily they had already invested in tech to do online things. They were making steady steps towards that, but obviously now they’ve been forced to dive right in.
Developing the mindset to rethink everything
One recent experience made me rethink everything. The team had cancelled a bunch of irl events, it was super depressing. However, they also came together to put on their first virtual conference. They had done lots of small scale 1 hour type Masterclasses before, but never a full event. And the team decided to do a 24 hour event. I thought it was a crazy idea and I sure was glad I wasn’t involved!
We had 1200 people pay to attend.
In hindsight, the paying part was a great achievement. Everywhere I looked people were putting on virtual events for free. They actually got people to pay!
The whole event was pretty amazing tbh, there was real connection, lots of side chat going on and people generally appreciating the whole thing. I’ve been to a few online events and I’m yet to see this level of connection happen. Humble brag for the company I founded perhaps, yet I had nothing to do with the actual event. 😊
Doing things together adds huge value
There was one thing that stood out for me and that I keep going back to in my head.
As part of the event they replayed talks that had existed on our platform for years. We had the original speaker there, text chatting away during the talk and they also came on afterwards for a Q&A.
And ‘everybody’ was loving it. It was buzzing! I was like, really? How interesting.
So many people had access to these talks and had never bothered to watch them, yet now they were given the opportunity to pay for the experience to watch them together and they were loving it.
Of course, in hindsight it made sense of how much value this adds:
- people feel like they belong when they do things together
- the ability to ask questions live is powerful
- the community adds in value by asking questions, giving ideas, sharing links and adding in their own experiences or opinions
- the people see and realise that others are asking questions that they would normally be afraid to ask
- this is not something you could do at a live event (it would be rude to interrupt), the online experience was like it was on steroids.
- and in their own words, it kept people focused watching all the content when normally they just wouldn’t have the attention span.
A little look into the future
It’s a shame that it has taken covid to push us all to make use of tech in creative ways. This experience I’ve shared is not something new. Nor is it rocket science.
I personally can’t see the future returning to how things were. What I do see is the expectation to bring added value by bringing people together. We are better and stronger as a group over individuals.
Ultimately, being a professionally focused community, people at Ministry of Testing want to learn together, build relationships, share knowledge and feel like they are a part of something. It’s not enough to just have content. It’s probably not even enough just to have community. I believe they need the two combined and to bake this into everything they do.
Yes it feels daunting, yet at the same time I find it all incredibly exciting.