The highlights from our C2C Connect on November 27, 2018, about how bringing your community offline can make it even more powerful!

We all know about online communities - group pages, forums, blogs and collaborations - but what about offline communities? How does an IRL community provide value, not just on its own, but in tandem with online? How can IRL make your community even better? On November 27th in San Francisco, Bevy hosted a C2C Connect to begin this discussion.

Our panel included three experts in the community industry; Jessica Langston, a Senior Manager of Community at Salesforce; Cynthia Chiang, a Marketing Manager at Branch; and Diane Lewis, the Senior Host Development Manager at Peerspace. Each panelist is an expert in building community, and harnessing the power of it. The Salesforce community began online, and now thrives both online and off. Jessica said, “the in-person community gives [members] an opportunity to connect with their local community and strengthen the relationships that began online.” The Peerspace community began in the opposite way. It began offline, but they felt like they needed to establish an online community of forums and group pages for Peerspace hosts before they could really focus on bringing the community offline to meet in person. And Branch’s community is pretty much only offline. They gather a panel of experts, and invite app developers, mobile marketers, and product managers, and talk about successes and challenges of what it’s like to be in the mobile ecosystem.

At this C2C Connect we learned about the importance of building trust in your community, and why there is a need for an offline community. Diane, Peerspace, suggested in order to build trust in a community, one must be as transparent as possible. She talked about the team at Peerspace being transparent with their community of hosts, and ensuring the hosts are being transparent about their space. It is about being honest, making sure there are no hidden agendas, fees, or terms, and answering every question thrown at you, “and if I don’t know the answer, I have to figure how to get it!” Diane, Peerspace, said. Jessica, called the Salesforce User Group community “an extension of the Salesforce culture.” She said building trust is about listening, being present and supportive, and creating opportunities for the members to connect with each other, and with people on the Salesforce team. Cynthia revealed Branch’s number one way to build trust at their community events: don’t be salesy! When you are sharing information members will actually find useful to help them grow and develop, they trust you. If you are advertising at them all the time, you will lose that respect and trust.

Offline communities are built with the consumer in mind. When customers are given the opportunity to meet in person, discuss the product or brand, have questions answered, and concerns addressed, they are more likely to become brand advocates. It is about understanding the consumers and where they are coming from. “It’s not about the company, it’s about the consumer.” Diane, Peerspace said, “Make them comfortable and confident, then they become successful, and then in turn the company is more successful.” This is the basis of customer to customer marketing. Companies must harness the power of human interaction and the “make-you-or-break-you power of Word of Mouth” (C2C Blog Post). Face-to-face is the future of building brands.

Missed this C2C Connect? Check here to see when the next event is happening near you!

Want to meet with your local community managers, leaders, and builders? Get involved and bring C2C Connects to your neighbourhood!