CMX Summit CEO David Spinks on building communities for events

Michael Kasian |

 

In part 2 of our ongoing CMX series leading up to the 2015 CMX Summit, I had the opportunity to dive deeper into how CMX’s mission, “to support, educate and empower the world’s community builders,” applies to Eventjoy’s community of event organizers. I chatted with David Spinks, CEO of CMX Media, to gain further insight into how his work and passion for community aligns with the world of event management. 

1468498_10104008305001466_8370166295419540972_nMichael: Hi David! Big fan of the CMX Hub and all of the content that you and your team share. I’m curious, how did you come up with the idea for the CMX Summit, a talk focused on building community?

David: I’ve always had the idea for a CMX summit but it kind of took form once I thought enough people were ready for it. I’ve spent my whole career building communities for different companies, and I would constantly talk to other people doing similar things in the community space, but they weren’t talking with each other. There also weren’t any dedicated resources for learning how to do this from scratch. We were all kind of figuring it out as we went and would kind of share with each other when we picked up new ideas. I started communitymanager.com with Jenn Pedde and Brett Petersel 3-4 years ago as a side project where we could share content and build a good audience. When we actually launched the conference and got a huge response, it became clear pretty quickly that this kind of conversation was in high demand.

Michael: I’m looking at the schedule of speakers planned for the Summit and you’ve got a former nuclear submarine captain, a former FBI special agent, and community managers and CEOS from all sorts of companies. How did you come up with the variety?

10300894_10100265656179846_7508059822707847295_nDavid: They manifested based on what kind of conference I would want to go to. Then we put all of those ideas together and divided them into 3 buckets: Community Professionals who have been doing this stuff for at least 7 years who have really interesting perspectives on the field, CEOs who have built community platforms to learn what drove them to develop their particular products, and then other fields that contribute to community building like psychology, ethnography, archeology, science, music, art. Someone with a special expertise that can apply his or her expertise to community. That ex FBI agent has written 11 books and is basically the leading expert in nonverbal communication, so he’s definitely a voice we want to hear.

Michael: What would you say are the biggest tools needed for building communities for an event?

David: The toughest thing about questions like these is that a community can take on several forms. For example, there’s online community and there’s offline community and supporting each kind is very different. At the bottom line, it’s all about communication. You have things as simple as email and phone calls that are really good community building tools because it’s all around interaction. But when you’re throwing an event, any tool that really contributes to planning ahead and making the experience easier so you can focus on expanding the audience base is really important for community builders.

Michael: With your expertise in targeting communities, how could an event organizer find the best attendees fit for their event?

1560762_10104008304881706_7638686730682826112_nDavid: To get the right people in the room, I think it’s a mixture of things. First, your event needs to have a strong focus that separates you from other similar seeming events. For us, we knew there were plenty of marketing conferences out there with focuses on content or social media, but there were barely any with such a strong focus on community, so we took a stance and made sure in our campaigns to potential attendees that we are the leading community focused conference out there.

The other part would be to carefully choose the speakers or entertainment you’re presenting as well as the people you invite. Whether they’re well known or are particularly invested in your subject or theme, it’s important to get the right mix. We’re very careful about the people we choose to speak at our events and who we first reach out to.

Michael: How are you using social media for your summit’s promotion?

David: We start off with sharing discounts and promoting our speakers. We do a lot especially when people are at the event, especially. We share content, pictures, and videos all at the events we throw. Afterwards, we like sharing a lot of the content from the events. We do a lot of recaps of all the talks, interviews with all of the speakers leading up to the events, so we like to keep active in the communities.

And our community specifically lives on a Facebook group. We have over 1200 members in our group that are active community members and that’s really what drives all of the engagement in our conferences. It really blows my mind how active our group is it makes me so happy to see the engagement on such a high level.

Michael: Well as one of those 1200 who are active members of your group I can agree that there are a lot of active folks. Now that you mention it, what is it about building a community that provides you with so much happiness?

10885152_10104008312681076_7386416246619674433_nDavid: It’s something that I’ve always loved to do. I love bringing people together, I love helping people. I guess I’ve had communities that I’ve been a part of that completely change my life. When you don’t feel welcome somewhere it’s a very terrible feeling, so when you find a group that you feel you can identify with and relate to helps you, it builds confidence, it builds security, it builds relationships. It brings meaning to your life. Everyone is searching for a sense of community, it’s in our nature, and that’s why I love doing what I do. I get to help others build those communities and I love that. I can try to help all the people in the world find a sense of community or I can help the community builders build their communities and in effect help a whole lot more people.

Michael: That, David, is a very good answer.

Follow @CMX for more tips on managing a community and for details leading up to the CMX Summit on May 19, 2015