This is a bit of a two part question...
1. I created an event program & have added members into the program via a smart campaign. Like with some other programs, I was under the impression that their status would "auto update" once they were added via my smart campaign, it seems that they are not actually "members" of the program, even though they are receiving emails. I know with some other program types, an initial program status is already set upon people entering the program, without having to add the "change program status" step into the flow, is this not the case with live events?
2. If someone is marked as a hard bounce, are they still technically counted as a member of a program? Does a program count all "qualified" people from smart campaigns as members of program, even if they may bounce after an attempted email send?
For question 1 - When you added the members into the program via a smart campaign, what flow step did you use to add them to the program? In case you don't have this, the help documentation for Understanding Program Membership may be of assistance.
For question 2 - Hard bounces won't remove them from membership. Even if they've unsubscribed from emails, they'll still be part of your program unless you have a smart campaign to change their status. They might not receive further emails from you, but you'll still have them listed as being part of the program.
According to the Marketo Docs: Understand Program Membership there are 6 ways to have leads become program members:
You'll have to use the "change program status" flow step or rely on the other options listed above. This goes for all program types except for email programs where people are added as members when an email is sent.
As for your second question, yes they will still be considered a member of the program. You'll have to explicitly remove people from programs using the "change program status" flow step - although be careful doing so because you will be losing membership data about these people once they've been removed.
I know with engagement programs - there is no need of adding in "change program status" once someone is added into a stream they automatically become members - I guess that falls under "synced sfdc campaign"
interested my program is synced to SFDC yet no members were picked up
Are the statuses in your event program identical to those in the SFDC campaign? We've come across issues when the statuses in SFDC were different and we couldn't sync.
How to Match Program Statuses and Salesforce Campaign Statuses Prior to Sync
Also, this thread may be helpful, too.