Online company, Tubefilter, builds its community in person

Tubefilter is the leading authority on the web television industry, and produces a variety of products and services aimed at growing both the medium of and audience for web television. They put on a series of events including the Streamy Awards, and the Hollywood Web Television Meetup, which brings together web television’s top creators, producers, studio executives, agents, managers, technologists, and distributors. We had the chance to sit down with Tubefilter founder, Drew Baldwin to find out more about the events that have become so central to Tubefilter’s success.

Tell us a little more about the Hollywood Web Television Meetups.

The Web TV Meetups are gatherings that bring people together along the common theme of new media and television. Each month’s event features presentations from influential web television creators, talent, and industry executives who are leading the charge in shaping the future of their industry. Generally we have a keynote speaker and the events are really set up to foster learning and facilitate connections. We are trying to increase the level of professionalism of Web TV and these events go a long way to legitimize it. We now have a community of over 4,000 members who regularly attend events.

We’re also partnering with other organizations to put on a series of different events to reach new audiences — The Independent Television festival and New Media Vault, as well as a partnership with EQAL for the launch of their new CBS Interactive series Harper’s Globe.

How did you build such a strong community?

We did it all without buying any ads. We built it up organically through our blog, social media sites, and Eventbrite, which we use to manage events and collect email addresses. This was extremely important for building lists. This way we were able to scale up our events pretty quickly. When we launched, we had about 40 people at our first event, but within four months we had over 800 attendees.

You mentioned social media sites. Which ones did you find most effective?

We took advantage of Facebook to build groups and take advantage of the viral nature of the platforms to foster organic growth. We built out a Tubefilter fan page, a Web TV Meetup page, and a Streamy Awards page. We’ve found that this is a good way to recruit members.

Twitter helps us stay relevant by providing content that keeps us fresh in the minds of people we engage with. It’s all about finding ways to tap into the community of people who are engaged and vociferous about sharing what they are up to. The key is building attractive events that people want to talk about, be a part of, and don’t want to miss out on. These platforms let attendees become highly effective promoters and evangelists for your event.

Now that we’ve built a strong community following, we’re exploring sponsorship partners to take our events to the next level. But you have to focus on building consistent attendance first to create a community that potential sponsors want to gain access to.

You’ve mentioned the Streamy Awards a few times; can you tell us more about this event?

This year we hosted the first annual Streamy awards to recognize outstanding achievement for shows produced originally for broadband distribution. We had 1300 folks in the audience. It was a huge production; we worked with top awards talent to put on a professional event. Kodak wanted to get into this rapidly emerging space so the sponsorship opportunity was a perfect fit. In the end, it reached over 60 million people through Kodak’s marketing sponsorship.

We were able to get many big names involved like Lisa Kudrow, Neil Patrick Harris, Illeana Douglas, and Joss Whedon. Web TV is very attractive to traditional Hollywood, because it’s such an empowering medium to distribute their work. It was amazing to see independent creators up against well-known Hollywood figures for the same award. Web TV really levels the playing field and this event brought that to life.

As a predominantly web news site, how important are these events to your success?

Events are central to the business model, they let us capitalize on our audience. The Web TV Meetups are more of a new concept, but because there is such a concentration of producers, creators, and talent in LA, it seemed logical to create a place other than online for people to connect and build off each other’s ideas. As far as digital has taken us, face-to-face interactions are still so important.

Tubefilter events this month:

Events