Meetup has had a transformational impact on the social lives of people in the cities where it has gained a critical mass of users, such as London and various cities in the United States. People are able to use Meetup to find others like them that want to take part in similar sorts of activities. The social network has been used for anything from helping people to find others that want to do hiking, to those that want to learn better photography skills, or just go out to dinner at new restaurants or find a date. Meetups can also be used for business. According to Entrepreneurial Insights (2014):
“Meetup.com can be used as a very effective tool to accomplish a number of key strategic business objectives.”
With the Meetup platform, one can, for a small fee, gain access to a organising platform that allows you to schedule events, as well as enabling the taking of payments, use of RSVP functionality and waitlists, as well as messaging attendees.
This does not have to just be done for social activities and hobbies. There is no reason why it cannot also be used to arrange networking events, Meetups of customers or target customers, Meetups to gain brand insight or visibility and to increase brand awareness, or Meetups to provide training.
An additional benefit of putting a profile on Meetup.com is that an organisation’s online visibility is also believed to improve in search engine results. This means that even if meetings are not necessarily arranged through the Meetup platform, there could still be benefits of having a profile on there for a business.
One of the most important ways that Meetup can help with business is argued to be with extending reach and visibility. For example, it is demonstrated how organisations can target customers in their local area using meetings for carrying out market research or increasing brand awareness. An example provided for a software company is if that company were to hold a Meetup event to provide training in its software.
At that same meeting it is possible to interact directly with customers and use the opportunity to gain feedback about the software and also provide increased information about the brand to the customers. This also has the benefit, arguably of increasing loyalty to the brand. This type of open Meetup approach is argued to have value for raising business credibility in a market. It is argued also that large organisations might organise local industry-specific gatherings which could be beneficial for many.
Another activity that it is argued that Meetup can be used for is for hiring. One way might be for recruiters to set up their own Meetup meetings to attract particular types of employees and to meet with them personally. Another is for people that are looking for new employees to look at Meetups that have already been set up in a specific area and attend these to carry out networking and talent-attraction activities. This may provide a very beneficial addition to the regular recruitment process, particularly as it provides the opportunity for a face to face meeting, at which point it may be apparent if there is any follow up to be done or not – saving time for both the recruiter and the potential employee.
Meetup may also be beneficial for discovering ways in which the market is evolving in a particular industry, it is argued. There may be industry networking groups in some cities, and at these there may be speakers imparting helpful and insightful information. Alternatively, just simply networking at such events can be beneficial in gaining access to information on trends and developments impacting a particular industry. It is suggested that if no such Meetup is organised already, one way to gain this insight is to set up a Meetup for yourself and invite innovative players along to speak or network.
Finally, Meetup has the possibility of allowing companies to be able to make sales. It is suggested that sales staff may be able to go to events hosted through Meetup to identify decision makers at other companies. This may, if appropriate, provide an opportunity to make new sales through pitching products. This approach can be effective but needs to be handled with care, as being pushy at a fundamentally social event with decision makers at firms could have a detrimental effect on a business rather than a positive one, but handled the right way could be beneficial.
List of Relevant Social Business and Social Enterprise Meetups:
Video tutorial on setting up a Meetup group for your social business:
Paula Newton is a business writer, editor and management consultant with extensive experience writing and consulting for both start-ups and long established companies. She has ten years management and leadership experience gained at BSkyB in London and Viva Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, giving her a depth of insight into innovation in international business. With an MBA from the University of Hull and many years of experience running her own business consultancy, Paula’s background allows her to connect with a diverse range of clients, including cutting edge technology and web-based start-ups but also multinationals in need of assistance. Paula has played a defining role in shaping organizational strategy for a wide range of different organizations, including for-profit, NGOs and charities. Paula has also served on the Board of Directors for the South American Explorers Club in Quito, Ecuador.