We’ve been exploring how ‘the Network Effect’ can help us create more successful events.
Why? Well it has been said that this simple effect is at the heart of every mass movement. So tapping into this effect could be extremely valuable for your event.
The Network Effect is ‘the phenomenon where a product or service gains additional value as more people use it’ – that is – more people are motivated to use it, if more people are on it. Examples are the telephone system, and more recently Facebook, and Uber.
And what happens is people are motivated to get more people involved, as the more users it has, the better it is for those using it.
Facebook wouldn’t be much fun if there were only a few of your friends on it! So as users we recruit for Facebook, tapping into our personal networks to make it a better network. The more people on it the better it is for us. And the better it is for Facebook!
This applies to any social network – any online or offline community – including… events!
So if you design your event so that your target audience can see value in having more people attending it, the bigger it becomes.
The Value for You
When your event is designed so that the experience is better when it is shared with others, this creates a powerful effect. And if you think about it, we see this network effect around all the successful events.
It is a simple formula really – when people feel it is better to have more of their friends at your event, you get more people coming to your event!
For example, as participants and fans, we generally know that events are better when you go with other people. So we don’t buy one ticket, we buy 2, or 3, or… 10. We buy for (or encourage others to buy) across our social network.
Almost like Event Marketing on Auto-Pilot!
As an event marketer, if you can design your event to engage the Network Effect, your job is going to be so much easier.
In fact, the work is done for you!
When the Network Effect gets working, it’s almost like you can switch on autopilot and watch the tickets sales come in!
When we have the Network Effect on our side, this kicks ‘word of mouth’ into overdrive. And we know the power of word of mouth, it has won every ‘how did you hear about?’ survey that existed.
A recent EventBrite survey found word of mouth marketing was an effective strategy for 56% of event marketers in 2018.
Therefore if we harness the Network Effect we can create an almost self-fulfilling cycle, people will want to be at your event, and, they will want to promote it more.
How can we create the Network Effect?
Have an Event Design Strategy!
You need to deliberately design an event so that your audience will feel it is going to be a better experience when more people are at it. So they will recruit others to attend it (for their own benefit, and for yours).
As an obstacle race, Tough Mudder is much better when you do it with others (to help haul you over a wall, to brave yourself for that electric shock, to recall the experience later!).
And the world largest fun run series, Color Run, is designed so that people recruit for the event. The whole experience is designed to be a shared, social one. And its awkward throwing paint at strangers! So ‘peer to peer’ recruitment happens by design.
For both Color Run and Tough Mudder, it’s not just better with others, you feel like you need others to be with you. So the Network Effect kicks in, and people buy tickets together, and ask others to join them. That’s a powerful place to be as an event promoter.
And Make it Social!
The Australian Open has become ‘the place’ to be in January in Melbourne. People go as others are going. And they want others to come with them!The Aus Open is a brilliant example of the Network Effect in play, and has played a role in this outstanding success story. Over the years the AO has become a brilliant social experience, with a deliberate (and clever) strategy of creating a lifestyle experience around a tennis event. And social experiences enable the Network Effect. The more social an event is, the more of your friends you want there.
For example, you can go and watch a sport with just a few friends (or even by yourself). But if the experience is also in more of a social environment, it is more likely you will be motivated to bring a bigger group with you. As the experience is going to be more about interacting with each other than just the sport itself, your more motivated to get others to come. The event will be better with more of you there.
Although sometimes the balance can be off. We always need the primary focus to be on the core experience, and then use the Network Effect to good effect.
The famous Wellington 7’s weekend had for a long time been the place to be, with a hugely social event creating annual sold out events. But when the social element got out of control, the core purpose had been lost. So a re-design was required, and in the shift to a new host, the event got back to it’s core value, the sport. And then once again the Network Effect has kicked in, and again, it sells out. So we need to get the balance right, and ensure the pendulum doesn’t swing too far from our core proposition.
How do we engage the Network Effect?
You don’t have to be as big as the AO, or replicate Tough Mudder or Color Run type activities. You just need to apply the Network Effect principles in your Event Design.
Yes there are many tactics and channels, tools and apps to encourage the sharing of your event. But if the Network Effect is not set up in the design of your event experience, then it’s going to be harder to get people to come to your event, to promote your event in an affordable way.
With our Experience Design Playbook we design (or redesign) events to embrace the Network Effect. When we set them up this way, then the effect kicks in. People will want to be at your event, and, for others to join them. And then, your work is done for you!
If you want to see how this can work for you, just let me know!