I had a whole opening for this post about how we spend so much of our life online now and how it’s important to get out sometimes and meet people – see them, talk to them, shake their hands.
Then I was at a launch party for a startup my friend works for the other night and introduced myself to someone who looked ever-so-vaguely familiar. Sure enough, the not-so-stranger was someone I’d been “friends” with online for months but had never met.
There’s nothing quite like that moment of recognition and the true pleasure of that tangible connection that can lift an online acquaintance to an actual friend.
We are social beings and we crave that connection, and that’s what I’ve been musing about since talking recently with the guys from Meetup.com about the Meetup Everywhere platform.
The (free) platform enables publishers, brands, companies, whomever to create a way for their fans to meet up on their own.
The basic premise is this: You can’t be everywhere, but your fans can be, thanks to this series of tubes called the Internet. So why do they have to wait to get together until you come to town?
Take this weekend’s “Rally to Restore Sanity” and “Keep Fear Alive” events in Washington, D.C. John Stewart and Steven Colbert have lots of fans who couldn’t make it to the capital but wanted to be there in spirit. One enterprising fan set up a Meetup Everywhere page for the rallies so folks could get together in their hometowns. More than 5,000 people in 83 countries organized meetups to coincide with the rallies.
The Oprah Show has created a Meetup Everywhere page so show fans can host their own get-togethers and talk about, I guess, Oprah. More than 1,000 meetups have occurred or have been planned through the platform.
And the reigning champion of Meetup Everywhere meetups is, perhaps not surprisingly, Mashable. Nearly 1,400 meetups have been organized by Mashable readers in 118 countries. The idea is that people get together to talk about social media or technology, or whatever they want – but it’s under the Mashable name.
Now, imagine you could harness that for your brand. It doesn’t matter if people talk about you and how great you are. This isn’t about sales, this isn’t about traffic, this is only sort of about branding. This is about community. And community, as the title of this post says, is about connections.
Everyone talks about community building these days, but precious few are doing it effectively.
If you’ve used Meetup Everywhere, please share your experiences with us in the comments. And if you think you have a way better way to help build community, we want to hear that, too.