Successful Groups Think Outside The Box
The Meetup website & app is a great way to up attendance for your events and gain interest in your community. However, it's not always easy to come up with unique ideas that generate a large turn out. Events like weekly happy hours, book clubs, and brunch are fun.... but also a bit overdone! There's rarely any major incentive for someone to RSVP to an event they could do on their own at a bar at any time (like trivia, karaoke, etc). What majority of Meetup goers want are unique events to attend that will help them grow a social life and be glad they didn't settle for another Saturday night on the couch.
So how do you generate a huge turn out for your Meetup event? There are several ways to go about it. I've been hosting Meetups for 6+ years and have accumulated over 10,000+ members in all of my groups. Believe me - I've tried and hosted it all! Trivia, karaoke, virtual cooking, wine pairing, the list continues. While many of these events get a decent turn out for weekday nights and bring out my frequent members, they aren't necessarily gaining a ton of interest on Meetup. However, my events that get hyped up and have 70+, 100+, sometimes even 125+! RSVPS are the ones that are unique and stand out from a "normal" bar event.
What are some of these events you might ask? One of the best Meetup events I ever hosted was a "Fake-Chelorette" party. Basically, all of us ladies dressed up like we were going to a Bachelorette party and barhopped around Houston! Some dressed as brides, others wore t-shirts that said "She said yes, I said shots." We had p*nis straws. We wore heart shaped sunglasses. It was an absolute blast! Other events that always have a good turn out are: themed bar hops, creative events, adult prom, and ones where I make fun of Meetup/social cues (For example, I'm hosting a "#*$& Small Talk" event where everyone gets buzzed for asking generic "What do you do for work" questions.)
Every Meetup group has a different audience, so it's up to every Meetup host to determine what type of events will gain the most attendance. No matter what category your group falls under, being creative and thinking outside the box will ensure you're getting the most RSVPS possible. Want to know more ways to generate a huge turn out? Read on!
How To Generate A Huge Turn Out:
Research current trends: Our love for social media & posting means that most of us want to be on top of whatever the latest fad is. In 2016, Pokemon Go was a huge trend. A ton of Meetup groups had Pokemon Go days where they would meet, catch Pokemon, and grab food//drinks. Everyone wanted to be playing the game & it became a conversation starter as well as a way to meet new friends that shared a common interest in Pokemon. Of course, not every trend is as easy to build events around. Researching trending events, sports, and fads in your community can be a building block to creating a successful event.
Put a spin on classic events: We all love the classic parties & events that we've been attending for years - like White Elephant gift swaps, wine and paint nights, and karaoke. However, sometimes they're a bit *boring* and we find ourselves thinking "Ugh, another wine and paint night?" Mix up the mundane by adding a twist! Instead of just a paint night, encourage your members to dress up to match their painting. Instead of Adult Prom, require a duct tape dress code where everyone has to make their outfits out of duct tape. Your attendees will love the nostalgia of the event as well as the unique take on it!
Be authentic: If your group or target audience is all about fitness and exercise, don't host a night out dancing just to get more RSVPS. Your members joined your group because they enjoy what you're offering to them and it's different than what other groups are doing. Being authentic to yourself and your members is so important. No one wants to attend an event if they think it's just a numbers game to you.
Think outside the box: We all have so much creativity inside of us - use it! If your group is a fitness club, ask yourself how you can make the next event stand out. What are your members into? Where are some cool spots in your community? How can you merge the two into an awesome event? Let your creativity flourish and don't be afraid to get a little weird with it!
Post your event & advertise it one month out: Adults and scheduling conflicts go together like peanut butter and jelly. The more heads up you give your members about special events, the better chance they will mark it on their calendars and get psyched about it! You want your event to gain traction and RSVPS. It's really never too early to post/advertise your event, but it often times can be too late. Think about, plan, & schedule your events at least a month out!
Try new things: If they work, they work! If not, ehh at least you tried something different! On Meetup, you're building a community with your group and members. They are with you on this journey and want to try out new places and different events. It's unlikely you will lose members if an event isn't a hit. However, it is likely your group will stay stagnant and die on the vine if you don't keep up with it and host something new here and there.
Have fun: Your members will match your energy! If you're having fun - they likely are too! My motto has always been not to host events that you wouldn't want to attend. I also only host events that I would be perfectly fine doing solo. If no one else shows up, would you enjoy doing this activity? If only three members come, will you still have a good time? If the answer is no, then forget about it! Most Meetup hosts are not making a profit & have other jobs & responsibilities. Don't add stress to your life by hosting something you can't stand doing. Have fun, be creative - at the end of the day, you're building a community and helping your members re-claim their social lives. That's pretty rad AF!
Believe In Your Group!
Hosting a successful Meetup event that generates a large turn out may seem like a difficult task, particularly if you run a niche group or live in a smaller town. However, if you think outside the box and allow yourself plenty of time to promote the event, there's no reason you can't have a huge event that everyone talks about for months (if not years!) after! Using social media, Eventbrite, and word of mouth are other tools you can use to promote your event and gain more of a following.
Best of luck on your Meetup journey! Hosting is hard but so rewarding. Follow me on Instagram/TikTok @meetwithmacey and check out our podcast "Hard To Make Friends As An Adult" on Spotify & all major streaming platforms for more Meetup tips, advice, and stories!