You may or may not have noticed that Meetup.com was down for almost a week due to a Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. A DDoS attack floods a site with a massive amount of fake traffic that essentially overloads the servers to the point where no one can load a page. While it’s sad to see hackers attacking a site that does so much good in the world, I’ll save that issue for another post. Instead, I want to talk about how thousands of Meetup organizers couldn’t message, or communicate, with their community because the only form of mass communication they have is through the actual Meetup site.
I know this first hand, because I co-organize the NYEdTech Meetup and during the blackout, we had no way to communicate with our members beyond the Meetup site. Neither our Twitter nor Facebook accounts have nearly the same reach and direct communication access as our Meetup page. While it wasn’t that big of a deal for us since our next Meetup isn’t for another two weeks, it could’ve been much worse. Imagine if our Meetup was during the blackout. We would have lost out on ticket sales since RSVPing is done via Meetup.com. We would not have been able to let everyone know the location and time of the event since all that info is on the Meetup Page. We would not have been able to download the RSVP list since that is accessed through Meetup. We would have lost sponsorship revenue since our sponsorships are contingent on hosting Meetups. This is why having another form of communication that isn’t platform depended is critical to sustaining a community.
Meetup.com doesn’t give anyone, even organizers, access to member emails, so you have to start collecting the emails on your own to build up your list. The best strategy to collect member emails via Meetup is through the Event RSVP process. As part of the Event RSVP process, Meetup allows you to ask up to six questions. Make “Preferred Email for Communication” or “Email for Mailing List” a question required for RSVPing and you’ll start to see the emails roll in. Once you have a member’s email, you can store it in a CRM system, Email Management System or even better, both!
By collecting emails, you get the flexibility to move your community anywhere you want. Be platform agnostic. As an organizer, you worked hard to build your community on Meetup. Don’t allow technical issues on their end cause you to be completely cut off from your community.