Monday, March 11, 2013

What is Meetup?

This summary is from an in-house presentation that I delivered in early March 2013.

Meetup is an online social networking tool that is meant to connect people in the same geographic region who have the same interests to form a group online and then use calendaring and map software to meet In Real Life.

In fact, to form a meetup group, you must agree to meet in person.

Signing up for Meetup

You can sign in to Meetup using your email address and a password or you can connect with your Facebook account. Connecting with your Facebook account means you can immediately invite your Facebook friends to your Meetup groups. You can also see what groups your Facebook friends are a member of.

However, Meetup is useful for “out of network” matchmaking; for example, if you are the only person in your Facebook network who owns their own business, your Facebook friends are not the people who can help you write a business plan or get answers to your questions about VC funds. You can use Meetup to break into networks that are currently closed to you.

What does it cost?

Meetup is free for regular members, but there is a fee to form Meetup groups. Organizers can only run three Meetup groups at one time.

 In this case, if we formed a Career Knowledge Group for campus, but offered a variety of events, this is one Meetup. If we formed a Career Knowledge Group for Arts, Engineering and Education, and each with a separate group of members, we could not add a Science Meetup group without paying for an additional administrator account.

Since there are fees for Meetup groups, some organizers do ask members to pay a small fee when they attend their first meetup. Other Meetup groups are sponsored by groups or business organizations, which can offer some ad space for the sponsors on the Meetup group page.

What groups are on Meetup?

Groups are usually formed around hobbies, such as knitting and movie watching, while others are for educational, such as learn Spanish, and business purposes, such as the Startup Edmonton Meetup.

Some Meetups are even combinations of hobbies, businesses and education: for example, I belong to a vegetarian and gardening meetup which includes a potluck event to meet people and usually a presentation from a local entrepreneur, such as making straw bale homes.

Career services can make use of the educational and entrepreneurial meetups, but since we can also encourage people who are planning to relocate from or to Edmonton, to use Meetup to build a local community to alleviate homesickness.

Open and Closed Groups

Some groups are open meaning that you don’t have to be a member to see upcoming events, while others are closed and events are accessible to members only. Some closed groups only require a request to the organizers to join, while others will ask you to email the organizer with a sort of, why should you let me in to your Meetup group message. Some groups will allow you to remain a member even if you never attend a meetup, while others will kick out people who fail to show up to even one meeting, or who RSVP but fail to show up. All of these rules will depend on the organizer(s).

What does a group page look like? 

What does the user dashboard look like? 

  • There is a stream of events, including a list of Facebook friends that are on Meetup, as well as information about who has RSVPd to Meetups the user currently belongs to. 
  • There is a calendar, which can include suggestions for Meetups that the user may not have registered for or if they are not yet a member of, though they all relate to the user’s interests 
  • An editable list of user interests so the user can search for new Meetups.

Why Meetup? 

Meetup combines several familiar tools in one place, so people familiar with all of these tools do not have to learn new skills to use Meetup:

  • Mapping Event planning, including RSVPs and group management 
  • Calendars, which includes notifications of new meetups, importing calendars to existing services, such as Google calendar 
  • Group formation and forums, as well as commenting on events and attendance monitoring 
  • Tagging and categorization 
  • Review services because attendees can add a review to an event after they have attended 

Facebook uses some of these services, but Meetup encourages out of network connections and socializing outside of Meetup. Meetup offers some solution for event management, though they have not currently worked out the ticketing and event payment process, should a fee by required by the event organizer.

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