Taking Your Online Community Offline or How To Use Meetups To Generate Buzz

Taking Your Online Community Offline or How To Use Meetups To Generate Buzz

Building an online community requires you to think outside the box. Sure, the majority of your interactions with members will occur online, mostly on your forum and social media, but should this be the only place you are interacting?

I think not.

Forums are about human interaction. They are a place to discuss ideas and conversate around a topic. The web is becoming more and more social. Why? Because deep down we all crave human interaction and acceptance. We want to belong. We want to share our experiences with people who share our interests.

It’s time to look up from the computer screen. There are other ways to promote your forum.

Using Events To Introduce People to Your Community

Event marketing is a tool used by the pros because they understand that loyalty is easier won through face time. People connect more with those they meet in person. You can use this to your advantage when promoting your forum.

You do have some choices to make though, each with their own advantages and disadvantages.

Conferences. The place where the big kids hangout. Industry conferences are a big deal. Influencers and industry folk from all corners attend, and you’ll get the chance to rub elbows with some of the big names in your niche. If you are thinking about attending a conference or tradeshow it’s best to plan in advance, especially if you’ll have to travel to the event.

Key to success: Maximize the opportunity by planning well in advance and coming prepared. Look sharp, know your USP, know what’s going on in your industry, and bring some business cards.

Drawbacks: Unless you’re lucky enough to live in the city of the event, there is a good chance you’ll have to travel.

Meetups. These are usually less formal than larger conferences or trade shows, but the smaller group and informality is something you can use in your favor. Plus, chances are you can find some groups near you that share your interests, making them perfect prospects for joining your community.

Key to success: Learn as much about the Meetup group as you can ahead of time and be yourself when you get there. Spend your first Meetup getting to know people. Talk less of yourself and more of others.

Drawbacks: Not as big as a conference or trade show. Not necessarily a bad thing though.

Hosting your own event. This is by far the most difficult to pull off. It requires the most planning and the most attention to detail. Not only do you have to decide on the program and make all the arrangements, you’ll be responsible for making sure people show up.

Key to success: Plan. Promote. It is essential that you are a people person. In fact, it is absolutely necessary. Hosting an event requires a lot of work. If it’s a success, you’ll walk away a winner.

Drawbacks: If no one shows up it could be a disaster.

How To Start Marketing Your Community Through Events

The fastest way to get started is through Meetup. Nearly every city has a Meetup group around an activity or interest. Sign up for Meetup and start exploring the different groups. Pick a few to attend and the next time they have an event make sure you show up with your best foot forward. Starting this way makes it easy. Most Meetups only last a few hours, so you’ll be able to find time to attend.

Tradeshows and conferences are next on the ladder. These events are usually more formal, but it really depends on your niche. The difference here is there will be speakers and different forms of entertainment. Before deciding to host your own event it is a good idea to attend a few conferences to get an idea of what to expect.

One last tip: Meetup let’s you offer ‘Perks’ to members of any group that decides to approve it. The cost is only $5/mo. per group. If you chose right you can get a steady stream of traffic (and members) visiting your site.

Have you ever used Meetup to promote your website?

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Post Written by
Greg Middlesworth is the owner of URLjet.

1 Comment

  1. Greg says:

    Hey Patrick,

    You bet! You share a lot of valuable information on ManagingCommunities.com Keep up the good work!

    Greg

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