Let's Have a Meetup!

Category: Social-Networking

If social isolation is your problem, virtual relationships are not going to solve it. Smiley-faces are no substitute for real, human smiles. A computer monitor may be your window to the world, but the eyes are the window to another’s soul. No social network provides the quality of interpersonal experience that in-the-flesh social gatherings do. Read on to learn about an online service that's bringing people together in the real world...

What is Meetup.com?

In July 2014, BusinessWeek magazine reported that the average American spent 40 minutes a day on Facebook – more time than was spent caring for pets (but just barely). The more time you spend on Facebook, the more ads it can show you and the more money it makes. In fact, most social networks are focused on keeping you glued to your computer screen, and that is unhealthy in many ways.

Meetup.com is not exactly a social network, though it has many of the trappings of one. It’s more of a crowd-sourced social directory service. Meetup isn't a dating service, either. Its essence is, “Hey, who wants to meet up and do this?”

The goal of joining Meetup.com is to spend as little time on Meetup.com as possible; you’re supposed to find groups of people who share your interests and go meet them in real life. The Meetup.com experience reflects this emphasis.

What's a Meetup?

When you register on Meetup.com you are encouraged to specify as many interests as you wish. You can also set a maximum distance that you’re willing to travel to attend a Meetup event. Based on this information, Meetup will suggest a number of Groups in which you may be interested. Even before you register, the Meetup home page uses your IP address to get a rough sense of your geographic location, and highlights the most popular groups in your area.

A Group is similar to a Facebook Community. Members who join a Group receive email or SMS invitations to Meetups. They can post in the Group’s public forum; trade private messages with other Group members; and share photos or documents with the Group.

Every Group Needs an Organizer

A Group is created by an Organizer who sets the agendas, times, and locations of the Group’s Meetups. The Organizer pays Meetup.com a monthly fee of $10 to $40 per Group, depending on the number of members, co-organizers, and the promotional assistance (i. e., ranking in Meetup.com search results) desired. See? I told you Meetup.com wasn’t exactly a social network. Who would pay for Facebook or Twitter?

Nearly all Organizers charge a nominal fee to attendees of their offline Meetups to cover the cost of maintaining a Group and any costs of Meetup events, i. e., art supplies, tickets to a museum, books, venue rental, etc. Most Meetup fees are only five to ten bucks, with some going up to $30.

The one thing an Organizer cannot charge for is his or her own “professional services.” Meetup.com frowns upon $100+ investment seminars, for example. Organizers may use low-cost Meetups to give attendees a sample of their higher-priced services, but blatant sales pitches do not fare very well in the long term.

Today on Meetup, I see a local group called "Hackers and Makers" for those who are interested in "making, hacking, tinkering, electronics, 3d printing, raspberry pi and other technology." But it's not all about the geekery. I know people who have used Meetup to find others who are interested in board games and book clubs. It's also popular with musicians, sports fans who want to watch their favorite team together, photography buffs, hikers and dog walkers.

Feedback and Followup

Attendees are asked (practically nagged, really) to provide feedback on their recent Meetup experiences. Feedback can be as simple as rating the venue, the event, and the Organizer on a 1 to 5 stars scale, or a thorough review that is posted for all to see. Organizers cannot alter or delete attendees’ feedback.

If you’re new in town and looking to make friends (even if only for happy hour), or if you have a specialized interest and people who share it are hard to find, Meetup.com is ideal for you. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, Meetup.com will tell you how many members in your area are also looking for it and encourage you to start your own Meetup to serve that interest.

Have you attended a Meetup event? Your thoughts on this topic are welcome. Post your comment or question below...

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Most recent comments on "Let's Have a Meetup!"

Posted by:

ST channing
23 Jan 2015

I don't think this Meetup outfit is going to last, especially when it charges fees. Facebook can be customized to do basically everything Meetup claims to offer by tweaking on the privacy settings. Besides Facebook has a much larger pool of users to select people of like minds and interests. Remember not too long again there was a hoopla about an outfit called Ello that claimed to be a Facebook killer ? I wonder whatever happens to it, LOL.

Posted by:

Rick Savadow
23 Jan 2015

I just wanted to add that there are also a lot of Meetups for medical issues such as diabetes, chronic illness, hearing loss, etc.

Posted by:

23 Jan 2015

There was also Evite.com.

Meetup's been around a long time, but they didn't charge years ago. Even so, I wasn't happy with it. Over a period of about 10 years:

I joined a book group of 150 members, but only one came to the meeting. End of group

A craft group of women who didn't craft, but wanted to learn. Each one at a diff craft...

A movie group that never came to the theater.

A book group that broke up within a year.

A group of women business owners that dissolved after 2 meetings.

Shall I go on? Oh, yes, a knitting group run by a leader who wanted to charge each member $5 for each meeting. She would habe made profit on her initial $40 many times over.

A scrabble group... don't ask

Posted by:

23 Jan 2015

Such a group already exists internationally and has done for about 26 years. It's called University of the Third Age and has groups in many USA and UK towns as well as mainland Europe and India. Check it out at www.worldU3A.org

Posted by:

23 Jan 2015

I am a member of 2 local meetup groups involving hiking and kayaking. My experience has been great. The hiking group, in particular, is very active with more than 2000 members and usually at least 2 events per week. In my case, it has been a fantastic place to meet new friends with similar interests.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

Another thing about meetup.com: if you're in a rural area (or suburbs that are far enough out), there'll be next to no meetups in your area & the few there are are poorly attended, as Rochelle pointed out above. So another strike against living way out in the country: nothing but bars & churches. I will check out worldU3A.org, tho; thanks for the info.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

I've been using Meetup for years.....both creating groups as well as participating in others. I've found it to be quite effective in connecting to others who have relatively obscure interests. For example, I created a group for Djembe drummers. We've been going for 2 years now and are having a blast. It is less effective for meeting people with more general interests, as the attendees often flit in and out of the group unless it has the right chemistry. In general, it's a great resource and worth the money....if you pick the right interest and market it effectively.

Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

Hello Everyone:

I went to a few Meetup.com groups many years ago but stopped going as I was virtually ignored when I attended. I don't know why.
Nevertheless, I will give it another shot as this specific Bob Rankin newsletter served as a great reminder to re-join!


Posted by:

24 Jan 2015

I'm a member of two local meetup groups for kayaking and I don't know what we'd do without Meetup.com. Once club started out with Google Groups until that service quit. We have a presence on both Meetup and Facebook. I also belong to a motorcycle Meetup which works very well too. Friends belong to photography meetups and enjoy that activity with friends they've made through Meetup.com.

Posted by:

25 Jan 2015

To OfficerRipley--

I'm not in a rural are, I'm in a county of 1 million people just north of NYC. Many people just sign up for groups promiscuously, and then forget about them. They like to click buttons. I belong to knitting groups at Ravelry.com, and I see groups there with many hundreds of members where only about 10 are active.

Posted by:

Sandy Papavasiliou
25 Jan 2015

I've been connected to Meetup for a few years. I don't go out all that much, but make the effort depending on what is being offered. Most groups charge $1 on the night. That is fine. Another local social group connected to Meetups for the convenience of reaching members and others. My friends and I post through this group onto Meetups for a 'Nosh & Natter" and Movie night once a month and another friend puts her Christmas Day in a Park on as well. It all works quite successfully.
Some social events are just naturally going to not be as popular and bum out so, if you don't find what you want, try running your own, or keep looking.

Posted by:

26 Jan 2015

I ride a motorcycle and a friend of mine told me he found and was riding with a group of riders in the Dana point area, he located on Meetup.com. So I looked and also found a group of riders in the Pomona area. It has been great fun riding with them. There are 400 members, but usually between 20 and 50 show up for each ride. They have 2 to 3 rides a month and 4 to 6 3 day rides a year. I have been riding with them for 3 years. I never paid any money to Meetups to join.

Posted by:

26 Jan 2015

Meetup is as good or as bad as a given group and its organizer. You'll find really good groups and really sick groups. You might also encounter discrimination, and if you do, don't expect any help from Meetup.

I've found reports of racism, and have personally encountered ageism and discrimination against disabled people, Meetup doesn't always respond to the reports they solicit, and as of today, I still couldn't find any public statement re policy re discrimination, or any public commitment to restraining or dealing with it.

One more thing...

Organizers can't delete comments outside their group site, but they can and do censor what people write within the group, whether in the legitimate service group of the group, or in service of protecting the organizer from being held accountable for his or her actions, even when those actions violate Meetup's Community Guidelines.

If you do a little research, you quickly discover that sick people have used Meetup for all sorts of awful purposes.

So look long and deep before you leap.

Posted by:

27 Jan 2015

Over the past ten years, I've told dozens of people about Meetup. It was in 2005 that Meetup started charging a fee, and that does stop some people, like me, from trying to start a new club, not knowing if enough people will attend. In my metropolitan area, there are many types of Meetups, and some have regular attendees while others don't. It's hard to get any type of club or group going nowadays, as people will say they are interested but they don't want to leave the hosue to attend. This is true whether you are using Meetup to advertise your group, or Yahoo Groups or newspaper listings or bookstore bulletin boards.

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