If you are looking to expand the reach of your community’s activities, consider trying Meetup.com. Meetup is a website where members create profiles listing their interests. Based on their listed interests, various meetup groups are suggested. A Meetup Group is an organization that hosts get-together events on a certain topic. Meetup Groups range from backpacking clubs, to knitting circles, to technical communication groups. If your community creates a Meetup Group, you can potentially draw from a wider audience for your events.
Meetup requires that you create a profile. When you define your profile, you can add a photo of yourself, a bio, your location, and list of interests. All of that information is processed so Meetup can recommend groups in your local area, and in your area of interest. It is free to create a Meetup profile, but some groups may have dues if you join them. Consider creating both a personal profile for you and your interests, and a general profile for your community.
Creating a Meetup Group
Once you have a profile for you or your community, you need to create a Meetup Group to host events. The group should match your STC community’s name so members can easily find it.
You have a lot of control over how the group will appear in Meetup, ranging from colors to logos, and photo albums to leader titles. You can even enter a default welcome message that is automatically sent to new group members.
One important aspect of your group is to define the thematic topics for it. These topics match the areas of interest you defined in your profile. If Meetup members have the same topics in their profile, then this group will be a recommended match for them. Topics to consider for an STC Meetup Group are:
- Information Technology
- Mobile Technology
- Writing Workshops
- Technology Professionals
- Writers Group
- Technical Writing
- Instructional Design
- Technical Communicators
- API Documentation
- DITA Documentation
- Web-based Training
Cost of Meetup.com
While having a Meetup profile is free, running a group is not free. The cost of running a group scales with the number of members in the group. In many cases, it is $10 a month for groups of less than 50 members. For more than 50 members, it is $15 a month. Meetup did not offer a nonprofit discount at the time of writing. With the higher rate, your group can have more administrators, however. To offset this cost, many Meetup groups require members to pay dues. That might not be a good model for an STC group, however, so if you create a meetup group, be prepared to pay for it, and budget accordingly. One option to offset the group cost is to get a sponsor that will help pay for it.
Meetup offers meeting planning tools, much like Eventbrite. You can track meeting registrations through Meetup, and you can you charge and collect fees when people register. Alternatively, if you are already using Eventbrite to track your registrations, you can send people to that site to complete the registration process.
So is Meetup for your community? That depends on your community budget and the activities you are planning. If you are an active community with many events, and you are in an area where many STC-outsiders might be attracted to your group, it may be worth your while to create a meetup group, especially if your community has the budget for it. Track and see how many people register for an event because of the exposure on Meetup. If you find you are adding to your community as a result of Meetup, then it will be a good ROI for your group. If you are spending $180 a year on the group and have attracted no new attendees, you may want to reconsider using Meetup, especially if your community budget is small.
However, don’t let this deter you from creating a free Meetup profile and joining non-STC groups. You might just find new friends who share your hobby enthusiasm!
This blog was based on a webinar presented by Timothy Esposito and the STC Community Affairs Committee. You can see the slides for the webinar and a recording of the webinar in the links below.
The recording of the webinar is available now at http://stc.adobeconnect.com/p3wfkl0rfb0/
Slides from the presentation are available at http://www.slideshare.net/tesposit/using-meetup-with-your-community
Also see the Best Practice blog post written by Timothy Esposito http://www.cac-stc.org/using-meetup-with-your-community/