5 steps to creating an online community

or group for your B2B event

If you’re reading this then you already understand the importance of having an online community to support marketing an event – you’re our kind of reader! Of course, setting up and managing a successful group is an art and can’t be done slap dash.

So here we are to the rescue with our insight and guidelines for successful community management.

You’re welcome!

5 steps to online community success

1. Choose a theme

Lightly position your community around your event, what’s most important is that you position the community around the members you want to attract – be selfless, think about them first. This is particularly important as you want to attract members who haven’t attended your event before.


To the untrained eye, B2B event marketing might not seem like a topic that can sustain a community. But the twinklein an event marketer’s eye at the mention of growing visitor numbers tells a different story. The B2B Event Marketing Tribe is the number 1 Linkedin group for people whose heart skips a beat with every new visitor registration. If this is you, join us – we’re happy to have you! Show less

2. Recruit members

Ideally, your community has a potential size of more than 5000 members. While it’s possible to build an engaged community with smaller numbers, a community that hits 3000 to 4000 members starts seeing organic growth. Additionally, you want to see a steady and consistent growth. It’s far better growing a community at 250 to 350 members a month so that you can get to know new members, rather than having a massive launch and getting upwards of 1000 members all at once.

3. Have a dedicated Community Manager

Online, social communities are NOT self sustaining – If only they were! A Community Manager should be compared to a conductor of an orchestra. Their role isn’t to make the music, but to bring all of the different pieces together onto a platform that beautiful music comes from.

Some Community Manager Duties:

  • They gate keep with an iron fist – No recruiters, other event organisers or anyone else that can upset the neutral balance you’ve created gets into the community.
  • They moderate with their other iron fist – Self promotion and spam (even from your sponsors/exhibitors) is out and won’t be tolerated. Your Community Manager warns the poster and uses a three-strike system: on their third offence spammers banished.
  • They carefully craft engaging content – Content calendars are thoughtfully mapped out because the type of content that your Community Manager posts (especially in the early days) sets the tone for the community. Keeping the content brand neutral creates a selfless, sharing environment that motivates members to step forward and participate.
    • They encourage and motivate members to post their own content – User-generated content is the lifeblood of a successful community. Here are some of the methods your Community Manager should apply:
      • Research your members, are they actively social on other platforms? If so, with entice them to do the same in your community.
      • Research your members to see if they’re actively publishing blogs, video etc. If they are, encourage them to post in your community. It shouldn’t be a hard sell as it’ll mean extra traffic for them.
      • Ask every members of the community to 1) introduce themselves and 2) let the community know why they joined. 
        • 1.  If someone introduces themselves there’s a 40% chance that they’ll come back into the community and participate in other discussions. Use the intro post to focus your ‘encouragement’ strategy on the members with a high potential of being social.
        • 2.  If new joiners are telling you why they joined, use this insight (their suggestions) as subjects within your content calendar. When you cover a subject certain members have highlighted as an area of interest, reach out to the members to tell them you’re covering their topic and ask for their insight.
  • Relationship building within the community is key:
    • Firstly, the Community Manager is building one-on-one relationships with members – especially members with the most social/engagement potential.
      • Let’s say Johnny was active for a couple of months, but then went quiet. Your Community Manager should reach out to Johnny and tell him ‘tongue in cheek’ how sad she is that he’s has forgotten about the community. Nine times out of ten, Johnny will drop a sweet note to the Community Manager and start posting again.
      • Similarly, if Johnny or his company is in the news, a quick note from the Community Manager congratulating him will go a long way to keep Johnny engaging within this community.
    • Secondly the Community Manager should be helping build relationships within the membership base. For example:
      • Johnny mentions (either privately or within the community) that one of his major challenges is ABC. A well-versed Community Manager will know that there are two members who are known ABC thought leaders. A networking, relationship-building Community Manager will then connect Johnny with thought leader one and two.
      • Your Community Manager is tracking/recording what content/posts/discussions generate the most engagement and adjusts the content calendar accordingly.
      • Your Community Manager will add their comments to a thread to encourage further conversation or to help take the conversion in other direction.
      • Your Community Manager will shut down, delete and/or remove any off topic or unfriendly comments.
      • Your Community Manager will report back to the business on all the important KPIs.

  • (Now we get into GDPR compliant ROI land – hold tight!)

4. Take advantage of sponsor and exhibitor social selling opportunities

You’ve invited potential sponsors and exhibitors into your community and now they’re members. As members, they’re aware of you and your event, your amazing social community, the type of members within your community (the type of members they desperately want to access) etc. They’re hot, hot, hot prospects for your business development team.

Done smartly, the Community Manager can subtly connect these potential sponsors/exhibitors with key members of your sales team a long time before they’re approached with ‘sales’ in mind.

5. Recruit visitors

This is when your community really comes into its own. Most of your community will be potential event visitors and, like your sponsor/exhibitor members, they already know about your event, your thought leadership and, most importantly, your Community Manager.

The most effective (tried and rigorously tested) recruitment method is one-on-one communication sent by your Community Manager to a member (aka potential visitor just waiting to register).

If you’ve built a healthy community, you should at the very least get a 25% click-through rate on your invitation.

And there you have it, our guidelines for setting up an engaged community. We’ve been using, positioning, building and managing communities for our clients for years and they continue to provide a constant source of sponsors, exhibitors and, best of all, visitors.

If you missed it, you can read part 1 of our blog series on communities here to get some more insight into “The Why of Communities”.

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Eric Louw


Some people are just destined to market B2B events. Eric is one of those people. It’s not because he’s passionate about B2B events (that’s a given), it’s because he’s passionate about helping B2B event organisers maximise their marketing budget with digital marketing tactics.


Eric Louw


Some people are just destined to market B2B events. Eric is one of those people. It’s not because he’s passionate about B2B events (that’s a given), it’s because he’s passionate about helping B2B event organisers maximise their marketing budget with digital marketing tactics.