We are now approaching four months of virtual Meetups for Code for Boston and have settled into our new format. Our projects are continuing and we have even spun up two new ones. Since the start of the organization our biggest source of new members has been Meetup.com. A week or two into virtual Meetups I noticed something: we stopped getting new members from Meetup.com.
Besides being a source of new members, Meetup.com has served as a mediocre e-mail list and convenient way to create a sign-in sheet for security. Before the transition to virtual Meetups we would have a nearly full RSVP list and twenty to thirty new people every week. A majority of those found us on Meetup.com. Unfortunately, when you tell everyone to stay home, they stop searching for places to go.
I have spent the past few months experimenting with a post-Meetup model for a Meetup. The principle I have adopted is making it easy for folks to engage at the lightest level possible. If people want to keep updated on Code for Boston they can subscribe to the e-mail newsletter or watch on YouTube. Most of the community work and discussion happens in Slack and GitHub so we’ve made it simple to find our projects there. If you are in Slack or subscribe to our social media you’ll get a link to the announcements livestream when it goes live. This is now how we find most of our new(ish) members: people who signed up for Slack that then notice we’re hosting announcements at 7 p.m.
I have not fully given up on Meetup. I think its an important platform that has been very good to Code for Boston for a long time. However as someone who uses software it is strange to see how frozen in time Meetup feels. I have been using it for years and my sense is that Meetup today does less than it did when I started using it. I will continue using it while it does something, but have started building a foundation for a post-Meetup Meetup.