Using Facebook Groups over Meetup.com
We’ve had MySQL meetup’s organised thanks to mysql.meetup.com for years now, and its sad to see the relationship end in about a fortnight. Never fret, because it seems that Facebook can do all that, and more.
If you’re the meetup organiser, and you checked the Members list, or even attempted to download it, you’ll be disappointed. You get a CSV file, with the name of the person, some other metadata, if they’re on the mailing list (chances is yes to all), and the URL of the member profile. What’s missing? An email address.
So while its nice to have a CSV copy of the member list, it will not assist you in any migration, whatsoever. Totally data lock in :-(
Mailing list/message board
Keep in mind that you’ve got mailing lists and message boards on meetup.com. You’ll want to make use of this, to tell people to join your new Facebook group. Mailing lists are of the form: mysql-GROUPNUM@meetup.com, and you can find out more from mysql.meetup.com/GROUPNUM/messages/archive.
In case you’ve had people unsubscribe from the mailing list, better make things redundant, to announce the move to Facebook, and also post to the message board.
As the owner of the meetup group, you can also edit the description of your meetup group – do so, pointing to the new Facebook address of the group.
Look at the bottom of your screen, and you’ll notice a little toolbar, and its not too hard to spot groups. Once you see the groups page, you will be able to “Create a New Group”. The exact link to creating a new group will work, as long as you’re logged into Facebook. Once you’re done, don’t hesitate to enter some relevant group information:
It’s probably worth noting that naming nomenclatures might be useful. Like I liberally used: The Malaysian MySQL User Group (Kuala Lumpur), but if you’re in a country like the United States, and you’re doing this in San Francisco, a name such as: The San Francisco MySQL User Group would make sense. Used similarly, like “The New York City User Group”, or if you’re in Australia, something like “The Melbourne MySQL User Group” will make sense. In that sense, I should really be calling the Malaysian one that I organise, “The Kuala Lumpur MySQL User Group”, and I have a feeling that once there are more meetups in the states around here, I will do just that.
Next up, you’re asked to upload a picture. Go ahead, make one up, or leave it blank. Something with your city in it, might be a good one. If the meetup group has a website, then enter its URL. The default settings on “Step 2: Customize” are all accurate, so just leave it be.
Once that is done, and you click “Save”, you’re asked to publish it on your wall. This is what I call publicity to those closest in your social network — you should go for it! You want all the help you can get, to spread the word, to make your meetup even more successful!
Now comes the fun part — you can invite your friends, or invite people via email — the choice is yours.
And that’s it, now you have a Facebook group, with an appropriate URL to point people to. In my case, the Malaysian MySQL User Group is at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=82091206683. Yes, the URL’s are not friendly, so maybe you want to make use of a URL shortener (Something like bit.ly, powered by MySQL).
What to do in the Facebook Group
The Facebook group you just created is useful. It displays the members, it has a discussion board facility, it has a wall (which may not be so useful, when it comes to actual discussion). It allows for members to post photos, links, videos, and more. In short, as long as all attendees are members of Facebook and the group, you’ve just created your own little virtual community!
Now, one thing that shone with Meetup.com was the ability to have a meetup once every month, and details go out to all members about topics, et al. Facebook allows this too. Select “Create Related Event”. In fact if you scroll down a little more, below Group Type, and Admins, you can also Create Events, as there is a nice Events tab, right before the Related Groups one.
Once you’ve selected Create an Event, you’re told to enter some event information, as follows:
That’s just basically filling up relevant information, the time, the location, and some contact details of the meetup organiser. Click Create Event, and magically, you now have a new event! Again, the defaults under customisation are perfectly safe, except, for the bottom, where you should scroll down, and under the “Publicize:” option, you definitely want to tick it, and say “Show this event in search results“. The more publicity, the better.
Click Save, and again, you’re asked to publish this to your wall, like above. If I were you, I’d go for it, so that even your friends who aren’t in the meetup group, might want to come depending on the topic being addressed in that particular month.
Like earlier, you can now invite guests (even via email) to the event, and once you’re done, you should have a similar page (looks so familiar to your group page, huh?) for the event in particular. Go forth and publish that URL on Twitter and other social networks, so more people show up :-)
Remember, that if anything changes, go back to the same event page, and select: “Message Guests”. This will allow them to all receive a Facebook message with the relevant information, changes, and so forth.
That’s basically it.
I can think of one more thing that Facebook has, that you don’t have on Meetup.com – that’s chat within the browser. You can chat with your friends, and meetup attendees potentially might want to confirm some last minute details, and the chat is a great feature.
One thing I find lacking is that you don’t have mailing lists. I’m an email type of guy, and if you want mailing lists, don’t hesitate to ask for one, at lists.mysql.com. We’ll be happy to provide yet another avenue to keep your meetups going strong.
Another strong point? You can be a member of multiple meetup groups, without having to leave your own. As someone who travels somewhat frequently, I love attending other user groups just to meet the community and see what they’re doing with MySQL. I can now, as events are open ;-)
Have questions? Leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. Otherwise, happy meeting users in your own areas and areas you’re travelling to!