Interview with Marc Mekki, CEO of Bond about how to build an efficient and strategic business community for your destination, association or organization.
It takes a lot of resources and much pleasure in engaging with many different people to build up a targeted and dynamic network. And to keep this precious audience engaged, loyal and happy, great and regular content needs to be provided. All sorts of content – creative webinars, videos, podcasts, whitepapers, articles – anything that you and your audience share and like and experiment with in order to mutually grow.
We at tmf dialogue help destinations and organizations to build such communities and present you with the latest in technology and innovative content to support the process. Who could be more suitable to give you an idea of what technology is most useful than Mr. Marc Mekki, CEO of Bond (https://www.getsocialwithbond.com/).
tmf dialogue and Bond just signed a partnership agreement, so together we deliver the complete value chain of technology and content and the necessary advice and structures.
1) Marc, thanks for giving us a free “lecture” on the latest developments in digital community building – can we start with your personal vision of an ideal virtual community and why this is needed?
An ideal community is one where the members feel like they’re ‘coming home’ every time they log on. We are tribal creatures and we want to huddle around a metaphorical campfire to exchange stories, problems and ideas, like cave people many thousands of years ago. In the absence of physical togetherness the only solution is an easy to use and private virtual community. In a world of fake news, internet scams and privacy invasion, people crave the safety and security of private networks.
2) What organizations in the wider meetings industry will benefit most from the new Bond community building SaaS (Software as a Service)
Bond was deliberately designed to be very flexible in terms of which verticals it can benefit. That said, we believe that associations and local destination organizations like convention bureaus, tourism authorities and representation entities are in great need of a more comprehensive, scalable and private communications channel to interact with their core community.
For example, few destinations offer an integrated solution where local stakeholders, congress planners, mentors and ambassadors can easily engage, collaborate and ultimately drive winning business and marketing outcomes for all parties involved.
Especially now, it is imperative to offer your community a distribution platform for sharing knowledge, innovation, insights and goals. Conventional social media are too public, too noisy and too unfocused, you need your own private, branded environment.
3) What are the key objectives for a business community that anyone should consider?
There are a number of key objectives to aim for:
The first is ‘reach’; you want to make sure your content and your messages are reaching your audience as much as possible. That implies tracking capabilities and it implies being able to reach people on any channel. We often use the term ‘omni-channel’ to highlight a feature that is going to be of the utmost importance in the future: let your members and stakeholders decide what channels they like and then make sure your organization broadcasts on all those channels.
The second objective is ‘engagement’; you must make sure your activities and community are not distributed across too many communications channels. If you have to update a Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin and Instagram feed just to reach your entire community, you’ll never create engagement between the members as they all use different platforms. Bring people together under one banner, in one digital environment so they can easily interact with one another.
The third objective is of course ‘revenue’: It is near impossible to monetize communities that are distributed across a half dozen channels. But when you deploy an integrated solution where members, buyers, suppliers, operators and partners can network, collaborate and solve problems, you have created significant value and you can charge for access. And even if you don’t wish to charge any members for access, the fact that you can demonstrate an active, growing and engaged community makes you attractive to sponsors and advertisers.
4) How can organizations benefit from the partnership between Bond and tmf dialogue?
Much of the success of a virtual community depends on the quality of its content. While some organizations have the manpower and expertise to source, curate or craft compelling content on an ongoing basis, for most this is a tall order in the short term. So rather than try to solve this problem in-house, organizations and associations would be smart to hire a dedicated community manager who’s responsible for driving engagement on the platform.
So in this instance, the combination of a world-class community platform and a team of highly experienced content curators and community managers means your organization can ‘hit the ground running’ and establish yourself as a future-ready, innovative business.
5) Why did you create Bond?
Well, we have been witnessing the increasing need for global networks in the virtual space but at the same time we’ve also grown quite disillusioned with the social media behemoths whose actions don’t match their words. They all talk about community and engagement but really just about every social media company is just interested in the commodification of its members so they can sell ads. Your privacy is an afterthought really, as much as they claim otherwise. This is not just disconcerting for private users but it’s becoming entirely unsustainable for business communities. So we wanted to create a safe, private and expandable environment for business communities where they are in full control of the data and where they have a say over what features are available.
6) What is the first step to get started?
Seeing is believing, as they say. To form a holistic opinion of the many possibilities, the platform needs to be seen and some context needs to be provided. So a demo is the first step.
For arranging a Demo contact Johanna (firstname.lastname@example.org) or use the Code tmf2020
tmf dialogue are experts for content and management of knowledge based business communities and of engaging local and international stakeholders – for congress / investment / MICE / tourism and knowledge transfer in global industry clusters.