I really enjoy the niche communities I’ve found online through Facebook, Twitter and Cbusr. In fact, there are quite a few people that I probably only exclusively interact with online. That being said, I really enjoy checking in with my online friends offline.
In the past week, I’ve attended about four meetups organized by Yelp Columbus, Cbusr, Social Media Club Columbus, and Team Cbus. What I realize after attending each of these great events is that I always have a great time seeing my online friends, offline.
Although it’s difficult to really understand for those that don’t maintain an active digital presence, something that is as important to the digital presence is holding and attending off line meetups. Think of it this way — the best way to maintain relationships regardless of geographic distance, is with face time.
Of course, I’ve been asked the question: Do attending and holding offline meetups really help you digital presence? The answer is a resounding YES! Here are a few reasons why meetups are essential to your niche community.
Something special happens when people get together
It’s easy to forget, but this is why we always “go home,” or visit old friends, because something special happens when we get together and spend face time with people that we don’t see very often. And this happens whether you live 15 minutes away or 150 miles away from one another. It’s an important function to maintaining a relationship.
Facilitate sustained engagement
If you are the curator of a niche community with a significant online component — you need to give people an opportunity for additional interaction. Talking and interacting online is fun — I’m the first to admit that — but I really enjoy the opportunity to have sustained conversations with individuals. It is the sustained engagement that can be how the synergy happens that makes the group a worthwhile community to which members want to be a part.
Get a sense of the larger community
Frequently when you’re a member of a niche community — you may have a few individuals that you interact with regularly, but by attending online events you can get a better sense of the larger community to which you are a part. You can meet and interact with the other people that your people are talking to, as well as grow your personal or professional network. It’s always nice to meet your friends, friends and learn more about one another in the process.
So, may be I’m a meetup snob, but I like to know who will be attending events that I plan or consider attending. Yes, the attendance list matters. I like meeting new people — especially those that I have had sustained online conversations with, but have not had the opportunity to meet.
Having offline meetups provides opportunities for your community members to act as ambassadors for the group on line. Whether it’s a Facebook invitation or something more sophisticated, having offline meetups provides community members the opportunity to show their support and tell others how and why their niche community rocks! This is a great way to both grow engagement as well as comittment to the group.
What other reasons would you offer regarding the importance of offline meetups to sustaining your online niche community?
- Offline Community Building Strategies (tucali.com)
- Meetup Everywhere Localizes Communities With Site Overhaul (mashable.com)