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Starting a group about anything can be surprisingly simple online. What formerly would have required a want ad in the local paper or a flyer on a community center's bulletin board now only requires a post online.
If you're already got a large community, perhaps you could just post your meeting idea on a social network and get people talking about it. But how would you start a new group when you don't already have a group? And either way, how would you make sure everyone knows about the group's meetings, gets notified if the event changes, and can see what's happened in previous events? Or how would you find a new group if you want to just join in with likeminded folk?
Meetup is a tool for all of that. Open their site, and you're first greeted with popular meetups in your area. You might find a hiking group a bit out of town, a writer's gathering that meets down the street, and much more. These meetings and groups are sorted by recommendation, with a preview of the group's cover photo and member count. Or, you can view them on a calendar to join in a group that's meeting this week.
Each event page looks a bit like an older Facebook profile, with a sidebar that lists stats about the group (its organizer, members, number of meetups, and more). There's a group description in the center of the page, followed by a list of upcoming events. And in the top right, there's a Join us! button to join the group. Depending on the group, you might also find a message board with discussions, photos of previous groups, and pages with further details about the group and its meetings.
Groups are organized by categories—and sometimes, there's no group for that category even through people are interested in it. Those groups will show up on the main Meetup page with their name in plain text and no background photo. If that group sounds like something you want to start, just tap that not-yet-existent group to start it up yourself. Or, to launch any other group, just click the Start a Meetup Group link in the top of any page.
New groups don't require much to get started. Just select a hometown for your group—nothing too precise, just your general area—along with up to 15 topics to describe what your meetups will be about. Add a name and description, then choose the plan you need for your meetups.
With that out of the way, you can start using the rest of Meetup's features, adding the same features to your group that the other pages have. You can schedule meetups, and decide whether or not to charge fees for membership in your group (many charge a small fee to cover Meetup's costs, or perhaps for the event venue). People will start discovering your meeting through the Meetup search and its recommendations, and you can spread the word on your own. And, once it's time for a meeting, you can message members to remind them, schedule recurring meetings to run regularly, and even invite others to help manage events. You can then share photos and more after the event to keep your community engaged with your Meetup page.
Running a community is hard, so Meetup makes it simple to manage its administration. All you'll have to do is run the events and keep people excited about them—Meetup will handle the rest.