You need to get the word out about your WordPress meetup. This isn’t a Kevin Costner movie—just because you built it doesn’t mean they’ll come.
There are a lot of ways to promote your event, but we’ll cover a few big ideas to help you out along the way.
Keep What You Get
Make the most of your efforts by making sure that people who come to an event come back. Put on excellent events, be consistent, communicate well. Make sure people are getting value. If you’re doing this right, then your event will promote itself. Any effort you put into promotion will be magnified because your event backs it up.
Make sure you connect with new people when they come for the first time. Don’t overwhelm them, but do introduce yourself, explain how things work and make sure they’re signed up on your email list.
Can’t Someone Else Do It?
Another easy way to do promotion is to let someone else do it. Make it easy for other people to promote your event. Use a consistent hashtag for your event. Encourage people to take photos and tweet about the event. Post a good agenda of the event ahead of time so people can get excited and spread the word. After the event share some valuable content like notes or video. Give people something to talk about.
Use Your Time Wisely
Running a meetup is time intensive so you want to make sure you’re getting the most promotional bang for your buck. Since you’re appealing to a tech-centric audience, use tech-centric channels. Focus on Facebook, Twitter, a website. Also recognize what you are—a local social event. That means you need to find ways to reach out to local people. You also need to be aware that this is a social event and that can be intimidating for newcomers. Often a personal invite from a current attender is what will bring someone new.
Your Meetup’s Online Presence — Creating a Site
An obvious promotional tactic is to create a site for your meetup. You need an online presence to organize and announce your WordPress meetup. Many groups use Meetup.com and it’s the official WordPress Meetup site. But that’s not the only way to go. You can also create your own site. Or you can do both. But you need a vibrant, consistent online presence.
The upside of using sites like Meetup.com is you’re tapping into a pre-existing community of people who like to attend meetups. In the case of Meetup.com, it’s likely the first place people will look for a meetup in their area because WordPress sends people there. The automatic event reminders and review section can also be helpful.
The downside of Meetup.com—or any other event listing site—is that you’re not in control. These sites can always disappear, change their policies, raise their rates or otherwise make life difficult for you.
Setting Up Your Own Site
That’s the primary bonus of setting up your own site: You own it. You’re in charge and you can do whatever you want. You could even use it as another revenue source by running Google ads with your content.
Plus you can build the site during a meetup. It’s a great way to walk newbies through the process of installing WordPress and show off some expert tips along the way.
The downside is that it’s another place to maintain. If Meetup.com is working for you, you might be needlessly doubling your efforts.
Online Presence Tips
A few tips for creating and maintaining your online presence:
- Single Event Page - Have a single page announcing each meetup that gives all the necessary overview info, as well as bio info and links for speakers. It’s helpful to point to one place for Twitter handles, hashtags and bios. If you’re doing both a Meetup.com site and your own site, the basics should be on both sites, but use one as the primary page and have the other link to it. You want to have everybody using the same main page.
- Build a Content Reservoir - “Our videos have benefitted the global WordPress community, and that’s awesome!” says Steve Bruner, organizer of the New York City WordPress Community. Have someone take notes at every meetup and post those notes on the site. If you have the resources, record each meetup and post the videos online. You’re creating a wealth of content each month and you might as well collect and share it. It gives people an example of what your meetings are like and will encourage them to attend, plus it’s a wealth of content that will draw more people to your site.
- Connection & Interaction – Be sure your site allows for connection and interaction within the community. That’s the whole point of a meetup and you should be encouraging it online as well as offline. Meetup.com has a message board you can use or explore a plugin for your own WordPress site.
- Your Own URL – Even if it just points to a Meetup.com site, have your own URL. It’s a lot easier to point people to wpcityname.com than meetup.com/wpcityname. It just makes things simpler.
- Keep it Current – Nothing kills your consistency and communication like an out of date site. Whatever you decide to do, keep it current. This is especially true if you’re going to have a Meetup.com site and a separate site. It’s easy to let one be neglected and that’s a bad move. Don’t build what you can’t maintain.