Monday, October 25, 2010

A Meetup About Meetups: Tips From My TechSoup Guest Blog Post and Giveaway Info Coming Soon

At the TechSoup SF Online Meetup on October 20th,  I enjoyed a refreshment break courtesy Hansen's Natural Sodas, with Doug Acres from Hansen's marketing team, (left) and Charles Baker (right), strategist for Meetup.com.






 

Remember that episode of Seinfeld where Kramer writes a coffee table book about....well....coffee tables? Last week, I had the opportunity to write a guest post for TechSoup's official blog, covering their SF Online Community Meetup, and the topic was -- yes, you guessed it --Meetups!  The blog published Friday, and so I'm posting it here today. It includes tips on organizing a Meetup, and an interesting feature I never knew about called "Meetup Everywhere," focused on causes and nonprofit issues. Cool.

So without further ado, here's the post, and for those wanting to view it over at TechSoup, here's the link. 

Hansen's Naturals T-Shirt  Giveaway Heads Up!
Wait, I almost forgot. An additional happy highlight of the event was that I got to meet Doug Acres from Hansen's Naturals, which sponsors the event, and makes a delicious corn syrup-free soda. Not only was Doug cool enough to provide me with a sneak preview of the Passion Fruit flavor to take home (delish!), but also a fabulous t-shirt for me to offer as a giveaway to you guys. Check the blog  and my FAN page for more info on the giveaway in the next post, as I'm getting a nice photo together so you can see how it looks.

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Crossing the Digital Divide: Meetups Bring Online Conversations Home

Guest blogger Carrie-Jaffe Pickett (@carriewriter) is an award-winning writer and editor specializing in e-newsletters, public relations, web site copy, and editorial solutions for clients. She blogs about social media and communications at carriewriterblog.com, and her portfolio and other links can be viewed at carriefreelance.com.

This month's Online Community Meetup featured Charles Baker, Strategy & Community Development Manager at Meetup. Baker presented an engaging and dynamic presentation which emphasized the symbiotic relationship of both online and offline engagement, the power of both to create community, encourage activism, develop branding,  and unify those with common goals, both locally and globally. With over 80,000 Meetup groups worldwide, over one million people attending a Meetup each month, and a new group forming every 13 seconds, Meetups clearly mark a new and indelible era in community activism and socialization.

Following are highlights of the presentation:

1. How Meetup Works - Setup, Planning, Promotion
To organize a Meetup, choose your day, decide on a theme or call to action, promote the event using social media and all available communication tools, track your success… and celebrate. Then, repeat. The fee is $12 a month to set up the Meetup, and the optimal promotion tools are blogposts and embedding the Meetup widget on your site. It’s been shown that these methods lead to higher conversions than e-newsletter promotions. Ideally, you want to schedule and promote your Meetup 2-3 weeks in advance --  planning too early will likely cost you attendees, and too close to the event is not sufficient lead time. It's also key after the event to message your organizers and attendees, and thank them for their participation. Use this as an opportunity to keep the momentum going by promoting your next event, and track your social media shares and other metrics to assess your future strategy.

2. Meetup Everywhere
Meetup Everywhere is a free platform for launching Meetups on a broad range of topics, such as cause-related themes, brands, issues, even an article, a tweet or a blogpost.  The key concepts behind this are activism and self-organization.

3. Case Studies Show the Power of Meetup
*During the Gulf Oil Spill, the Huffington Post used Meetup Everywhere to promote activism in conjunction with World Ocean Day. 1756 people met in 25 countries in response.
*When the popular author and blogger Seth Godin launched his latest book, "Linchpin," a worldwide "Linchpins are everywhere" campaign led to Meetups in over 900 cities, in nearly every time zone around the world.
*Apartment Therapy New York is a thriving Meetup, which has been meeting locally since 2007 and has over 2,000 members. Apartment Therapy’s founder recognized the value of those meetings, saying, “While we’ve grown as an online community, there is no replacement for real face to face meetings OFFLINE.” The group went global with Meetups Everywhere on June 9th, calling readers to “self-organize their own national offline movement.” 
*Etsy, the online marketplace for artists and crafters, had a global birthday bash of 512 Meetups to celebrate their fifth anniversary, and added creative incentives to the mix, including fun blog posts, sponsored competitions, online grab bags, and Flickr photo sharing.
*This year, the technology news source Mashable established June 30th as "Social Media Day," to "celebrate the revolution of media becoming a social dialogue." Mashable highlighted the fact that there were 588 Mashable Meetups scheduled in 92 countries at that moment
. They also embedded their Meetup map on mashable.com, and rallied readers with inspiring blog posts.

4. The Big Picture:
*Have a clear call to action for your Meetup, and keep your message simple
*Organizing locally shows that you are thinking globally
* Meetup is a great testimony to the power of numbers and the importance of social activism, particularly in the age of new media
* Meetup bridges the digital divide, offering a "facetime" alternative and complement to online dialogue

Resources:

http://meetupeverywhere.tumblr.com/
#octribe (twitterstream from event)
http://www.meetup.com/sponsorships (how businesses can engage with the Meetup platform and real world meetings most effectively)
Speaker: Charles Baker, @charles_baker

Have any of you organized a Meetup, and how has it impacted your business, network, social and work life? Comment here.

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