Running offline community events and meetups

(Shreyas) #1

For the past 2 years (full-time for Belong) and 5 years (as a volunteer with Mozilla) , I have been organizing community events & in-person meetups. Most of the events that I did for Mozilla would be FOSS & developer/tech community oriented.
However, for Belong, we did user meetups. This started from a road-trip that our users were planning on the app and we took up the initiative to organize and sponsor the trip. However, after our first user meetup, although we used to get a lot of registrations, only a couple of them actually turn up for these events.
Some things that we did to make sure we have a good turn out:

  • Open invitations at least a week before the event.
  • Send email invites with all the details 3 days before the event.(Information includes map link, contact number of the organizer)
  • Make the agenda very informal so that there’s a low entry barrier and everyone can attend a networking event.
  • Ensure we inform people about freebies, access to beta app for those interested in testing and sneak-peek into product roadmap
  • Allow +1’s in case they feel more comfortable with a friend.
  • Call and confirm with every single person the day before the event (mostly on Friday’s since the event would be on a Saturday). This is the step where we have a small percentage of drop outs.

Although we did all of this, if 60 people normally registered for an event, we had around 8 people actually attending the event! This was the average across 10+ events hosted across a year.

What’s super weird for me was that for Mozilla, for most of our events, if we had 60 sign ups, we might actually have around 80 attendees! I understand that the Brand value and perception has a lot of influence. :slight_smile:

  • Do you organize in-person community meetups? If yes, I’d love some tips and ideas to improve conversion rates.
  • Do you think it’s better to have a specific agenda so that people know what they can expect out of the event?
  • Do you think increasing accountability, by asking users to pay x amount to reserve their spots, which would be refunded during the event, is a good idea?

Creating a Live Event Framework for my community :)
(Sarah Hawk) #2

@Jeffrey_Otterspoor and @WouterS have both run offline events and will likely be able to offer advice.

@scottgould and @Hbhospitality also have heaps of experience in this space.

(Scott Gould) #3

Happy to chat on the phone, @dun3buggi3, if you’d like any advice :slight_smile:

(Shreyas) #4

Awesome! Thanks a lot, Scott. Let me drop you a PM.

(Wouter Schrijvershof) #5

Thanks @hawk for pointing me in this direction.

@dun3buggi3 I think you already do most of the steps correctly or at least similar to how I do them.

One of the things I learned is that there is a need for something to do or learn. Just networking or putting a face to a name isn’t enough to get people to attend. It is a really nice bonus but I can setup a face to face meeting myself with those I care to meet in person.

In my case, the tour around the office usually does really well and also offers the ability to answer questions and provide some bonding moments.
As you can read in @Jeffrey_Otterspoor’s post there were quite some activities running at the same time to offer diversity which was received well.

Aftercare is something that is often forgotten or neglected. Send out a small survey for those that did attend and thank them.

As part of our Super Fan group project we also ask attendees to sign up for the closed Super Fan group on Facebook.
There are little incentives to join such as early access, a personal touch and ability to continue the conversation. We also share event photo’s (upload the ones where your fans are actually in) to keep the conversation going. We keep adding fans every event we do (be it online or offline). So this is something you might consider.

Does anyone else here have something similar to a SuperFan group? If so, I would love to hear some experiences.

(Shreyas) #6

This is a great tip @WouterS! I had a quick chat with @scottgould 2 days ago and said the same thing. I was not sure between domain specific events vs networking events. A quick recap of our discussion:

  • Domain specific events might have fewer registrations when compared to a networking event, but the turn up ratio would be more.
  • Networking events only work if there’s a center of gravity. Adding +1’s don’t work because in that case, the attendee is the center of gravity and there’s not enough motivation(pull) to attend the event. Whereas if the center of gravity was a person with whom we have something in common or share a relationship, the chances of me attending due to that person would be higher.

In this case, we identifed the solution was to empower the neighborhood ambassadors. To use Scott’s analogy here- Try to find out the footprints on the path in grass where everyone has been walking and then build a road from that, rather than trying to create a new road and asking people to use it.
Analogies are amazing! Thanks Scott for such a simple explanation.

Trying to find out the positve things as well as the pain points of the ambassadors and talking to them and proving them with some resources they require-

  • In our case, we would provide them with a Yoga instructor for a their apartment with free yoga class.
  • Waste segregation training etc.

Once there’s an identified domain, give these individuals more authority and power to organize events on behalf of the organization. This would ensure there’s a good turn out from the apartment residents because they are personally connected with him/her[quote=“WouterS, post:5, topic:3971”]
Aftercare is something that is often forgotten or neglected. Send out a small survey for those that did attend and thank them.

I think this is a great idea! Most of our events were focussed at getting feedback from people about our app, the community, UI/UX. However , what we missed out was the feedback on how the meetup went!

Uploading images on social media and tagging them has been a great way to improve online engagement.