Community meetups used to be all about the local touch, getting to know people in your area and geeking out about a specific topic. The online vibe though removes all the "local" features that were sort of key pillars of the community meetups.
With Forem announcement and the feeling that local IRL meetups may not resume anytime soon, here's the first article in the series:
- Community tools
- Video chat and streaming tools
- Meetup formats that work well online
You may follow me to not miss the rest of the story =)
I work in developer relations where facilitating or doing tech meetups is common. We run a bi-weekly devrel meetup (used to be IRL, now moved online) that I will be using as a base for this article.
- Meetup.com - The good folks at Grafana have sponsored our meetup.com acc for the devrel meetups. But now that everything is online the "local" has less of importance, I don't see meetup.com generating much value or activity overall for our meetups.
- Eventbrite solves everything but community and discovery. It has an ok emails solution to talk to your audience, but there's no chat or a forum to interact with your community beyond emailing them. Eventbrite has some automation to remind your audience to tune in to the live-stream i.e. 1 hour before the event.
- Facebook - Despite what I personally think of Facebook, there's a single button click to import an event there from Eventbrite (the ticketing is sort of connected) and another button to invite friends and peers. It almost solves the community/discovery part. "Almost" because many people just cannot stand Facebook. Additionally, Facebook delivers your message to your own community only if you promote the post.
- Forem - Dev.to's Forem looks great as a platform for bigger communities. It may feel too large and too empty for smaller ones. Yet if Forem/dev.to could help meetup orgs solve the event discovery problem, then meetup.com would possibly end up having nothing to offer.
- Other tools - the reason people still use meetup.com despite all the bad deeds is that the community is there. There are lots of tools that are better than meetup.com, but if it cannot help with event discovery, well, one gets back to meetup and pays 15USD/mo for the privilege of organising free community meetups.
- techtalks.io gets an honourable mention among all those new tools because it was designed specifically for tech meetups. It has a risk of not getting traction and joining the other tools fate. I will put our meetups there and report back.
- Do you have a functioning online community? A chat, a forum?
You can use Eventbrite as an event landing page.
- Is your community scattered or do you expect to attract a new audience?
You have to heavily compete for attention and use all the marketing tools you can.
Many event/meetup leaders (including me/us) have switched to "no IRL meetups" mode for a while. To pivot online we did many things including several format changes and made a landing with GitHub Pages to host the meetup live-stream: devrel.events/live.
I promise to be very open about our numbers, the journey, the tools and the mistakes in the series of blog posts here on dev.to and below in the comments. If community meetups are something you're curious about - well, <3 and follow then?
Let's take a small step back and look at our twitter feeds - everyone is doing online conferences now, everyone is streaming. And I, you, we can attend any of these events. Probably for "free".
So there's 1 - competition, 2 - events anxiety. When one has too much of something, that something loses value.
I'll address this in part 3.