Organizing Basics

Help with creating your Group name right through to scheduling your first Meetup

  • Showcase your community in pictures.

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    Camping Adventures with a Fire

    We want you to show the world what makes your Meetup group great. More and more, people rely on pictures they see online to make decisions about what they want in real life -- that includes Meetup group and Meetup event photographs. We’re here to cushion your organizer toolkit with best practices for taking photographs of your Meetup group so new members know what to expect and you get more of the members you want at your next event.

    Use these five tips next time you’re taking photos of your group:

    • Embrace the landscape (horizontal) format  
      • Your Meetup group photo will appear across the top of your Meetup page.  
      • Vertical images will need to be cropped.
    • Use the light of day
      • Daylight provides the most even lighting for capturing groups of people. Take photographs outdoors or near a window when possible.
    • Shoot first, edit later
      • If your camera has the option of “burst” mode, use it. This feature allows users to take many pictures at once.
    • Quality matters
      • You could have the latest smartphone with the best camera,  but if your images are too dark, blurry or out of focus, the only people who will understand what it is are people who are there.   Only your best images belong on your Meetup page.
    • Capture what your community does
      • Photograph events that demonstrate what your group does when you get together.

    Meetup’s Visuals Editor, Lisa Iaboni, shares some of her favorite group shots (and why she loves them) below:

    Surf.jpg

    Catalonia Adventures

    This photo tells me everything you need to know about this group.

    We see excited Meetup members, participating in an activity in a space that makes it clear what this group is about. On top of all that goodness, using natural daylight, the warm colors and composition — the way people and objects are arranged in the frame — make you feel like you’re there, too,

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    Access Labs, Flatiron School, Coding in NYC

    Not all group’s gather for a physical activity.  That’s why I love this image. The point-of-view is at eye-level, making it feel like I am there.  People are working on separate laptops but they are connected by proximity to each other, and their expressions make it clear they are working together.  This may require some observation and patience but if you anticipate the action you can capture these moments.

    Bees.jpg

    Stoke Apiary Beekeepers

    There’s no doubt about what this group is interested in – bees!  Their outfits and expressions paired with the up-close point-of-view and composition (how people and things are arranged in the frame), make me feel like I’m there.

    The legendary photojournalist Robert Capa once said, “If your photographs are good enough, you’re not close enough.” When photographs are taken far away from the action, it’s hard to know what the photographer is looking at.

    If you’re feeling shy, explain to members that you want your photographs to make viewers feel like they’re part of the action.  Members may say they don’t want to be photographed and that’s fine. Just ask them to move out of the frame when they see you shooting.

    Being clear about your goal with members can make all the difference in getting the shot you want.

    Beach.jpg

    Showing these members relaxed and socializing on the beach at sunset sets a tone for the general vibe of the group. Nothing that distracts from their expressions(no food, identifiable beverage containers). Not only are these members comfortable with each other, they’re at ease with the photographer as well.

    The more you keep taking pictures, the more at ease you—and your group—will be when you take out your camera to shoot.

    We hope that our tips, along with these inspiring Meetup group photos, gets you thinking of fun ways you can do the same.   Let us know if you’d love to have more training on this topic.

    Capturing Connection: Five tips for photographing your group
  • You did it. What’s next?

    1. Thank everyone!

    • Send personal messages and ask for feedback. Use event comments or discussions to start conversations.

    2. Update attendance.

    • If anyone was a No Show, follow up and let them know they were missed! Keep a positive attitude and invite them to your next Meetup.

    3. Schedule the next Meetup.

    • Get something on the calendar ASAP. If you don’t have the next one scheduled already, ask members to contribute ideas. Encourage people to RSVP while you’re talking in real life.

    4. Notify everyone about what’s next.

    • Send a mailing list message with any updates.

    5. Consider feedback.

    • Find out what everyone loved and what could be better next time. Was there too much coding and not enough coffee? Reevaluate and brainstorm on how to improve.
    Checklist: After your Meetup
  • Congratulations! You’ve created a new group to bring people together IRL.

    People out there share your passion, but how will they find your group to make that connection happen? Good news: Meetup is here to help!

    Shayak Banerjee, senior engineer on the Machine Learning team at Meetup, shares some insights about how we use algorithms to help connect your new group with the members who are most likely to be interested in joining.

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    It all starts when you create your Meetup group

    When you create your group, you lay the foundation for finding members by choosing your group name, description, location, and topics. Think about what potential members are looking for in a Meetup as you customize your group page to be clear, authentic, and welcoming.

    Next: your Meetup reviewer

    Once your new group is created, a community team member at Meetup HQ reviews the details (location, topics, name, and description). They’ll ensure everything aligns with our community guidelines, and may update your topics or filters to help you find your community.

    If you’re bringing together people with specific characteristics (e.g., Moms of Orange County or Kayaking for People in their 30s and 40s), the reviewer will set those filters in order to find them.

    Algorithms help

    The Meetup platform has tens of millions of users and processes close to 500+ new groups every day. Meetup balances the needs of organizers (publicizing new groups to encourage membership) with the needs of members (sending relevant emails). So how does Meetup actually determine which members to alert about your new group?  

    When you have this much data to sift through, it’s time to call in the machines. Over time, our computers get better at the task by using techniques known as “machine learning.”

    Clear and detailed information (like location, topics, title, and description) means better output from the machines. Here are some ways the computers can build on the information you enter to find your potential members:

    Location location location

    Since Meetups involve meeting in-person, location is a strong component of our algorithms.

    We use zip code, city, state, and country for groups and members to make a good match. We also look at other groups in the same zip code as you, their members, and where they come from.

    Expanding the list of topics

    Choosing topics is the best way for members to show interest in future groups. Our algorithms match members and groups that have selected the same topic. However, there are thousands of topics and an organizer can only pick 15 to define a group.

    Don’t stress—Meetup automatically expands the list of topics to best find members interested in your group. Let’s say you picked snorkeling as a topic for your group. Based on topics selected by other Meetup groups and members, the algorithm will spot an overlap between snorkeling and scuba diving. Our emails will then reach out to members interested in both snorkeling AND scuba diving, telling them about your new community!

    Getting specific

    Meetup considers member-entered information like age and gender when promoting groups with a designated demographic, like Kayaking for People in their 30s and 40s.

    However, not everyone specifies their age or gender, so Meetup may use clues like other groups they are part of, and the age/gender focus they have. The Machine Learning team is constantly refining and improving this process.

    Member activity

    Active members (those who RSVP, join groups, send messages, etc.) are more likely to consider joining new groups. As a result, new group announcements go to active, engaged members.

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    Let’s do it!

    Your Meetup matters. We’re excited to introduce your new group to potential members in your community and help you find your people!

    profile.jpg  Shayak Banerjee, Senior Machine Learning Engineer at Meetup.

    Finding your community: Insider tips
  • Whether it’s your first Meetup or your hundredth, think about the experience you want to create.

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    Logistics

    Make sure your ideal place helps achieve your goals. You want to consider everyone’s needs.

    How many people are coming?

    What kind of space do you need for your activities?

    • Do you need room to dance? Do yoga?

    Do you need any specific amenities?

    • Internet access
    • A/V equipment
    • Secure storage space

    Do any of your members need accommodations?

    • Wheelchair accessibility
    • Family restrooms
    • Restrooms or space to change clothes

    Atmosphere

    Select a place where everyone will feel comfortable. Decide what atmosphere matches the goal of your Meetup, and keep it in mind as you search for possible venues.

    If you’re meeting in a business, connect with management to let them know you’re coming. Encourage your members to be supportive by buying a beverage or a snack.

    What do you want your Meetup to look like?

    • A book club discussion in a quiet and casual cafe
    • A facilitated discussion among entrepreneurs
    • A lively happy hour during a baseball game

    Resources

    WeWork: Meetup and WeWork have launched a program to make beautiful space available, free of charge, for your next Meetup. Organizers who have used the spaces, love them. Learn more about the program to host your Meetup at WeWork. We’ll let you know when there’s availability.

    Yelp: Yelp is a quick way to find opinions about local spaces. Yelp reviews often contains venue details you might not see on a space’s website. You can quickly crowdsource data about whether a place takes credit cards, has ample parking, and if it’s considered good for groups overall.

    Google Maps: You can use Google Maps to easily get a sense of the spaces in a local area. You can read user-created reviews, see what times a place is busiest, and see suggestions for other similar venues in the area.

    Crowdsourcing: The members of your Meetup are passionate about the same thing you are, so they likely already have some good ideas about where to go. Ask them to share their ideas — you may find someone with a connection to the perfect space.

    Local community spaces: There are likely many community-oriented options available for minimal costs. If they match your desired atmosphere, try reserving time at one of these options.

    • Libraries
    • Community Centers
    • Rehearsal studios

    Whatever space you decide on, check it out in real life. Pictures, reviews, and recommendations can’t replace an actual experience.

    Finding the right venue for you
  • You’re finding your people and building a community — congrats!

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    There are a lot of ways you can deepen your relationships and elevate your community.

    Be welcoming online and IRL

    Communication builds trust and relationships. The way you interact with your members online is as important as the way you interact in person.

    • Welcome everyone: Your members are your guests; welcome them the way you’d welcome someone into your home. Create a welcoming routine that works for you. Send out an automated welcome message to every new member and introduce them to others by starting a conversation on the Meetup group’s homepage.
    • Be informative: Keep your members in the loop! Update your Meetup group’s events when times and locations change.
    • Be a resource: Your members are looking at you as their guide — make sure you are answering their questions and offering solutions consistently.

    Listen and collaborate

    Gathering feedback shows that you’re listening to your members.

    • Be open: Let your members know that you want to receive helpful feedback, and that you’re prepared to make positive changes. Listening and acknowledging their ideas means a lot.
    • Be honest: When gathering feedback, be honest by following up with your members about what you’re able change and why you might not implement some suggestions.
    • Be transparent: Acknowledge if you don’t have the answer to everything that comes up. Let your members know what your goals are and don’t be shy asking them for help.

    Build in socializing

    Even if your Meetup is centered around a specific activity or presentation, create time for socializing. For example, if you’re all attending a movie together, make plans to meet at a nearby bar or coffee shop so everyone has time to make introductions. If you’re leading a presentation, set time on your agenda for open networking so everyone has a chance to make connections.

    Relationships take time. Keep at it. You’ll end up with the strong community you’re looking for.

    What makes community last?
  • Powerful things happen when people show up

    Making the most of your RSVPs
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