I love user groups and I always want there to be more. I’m not a perfect organiser but I run reasonable groups. When I see organisers doing it badly, it makes me sad. There’s lots of great ways to run a user group, but I thought I’d cover some of the bad ways to run a user group. The anti-patterns if you will
Your group isn’t on Twitter. Event notifications don’t get posted on local mailing lists / Slack groups. Your group basically runs on Fight Club rules*, and you wonder why you don’t get new people attending.
Turn it around: Getting started with social media
You post notifications via arcane methods with low readership or high barriers to entry. You only post in the tiny LinkedIn group you set up. You don’t include vital information like the location of the event. In short, you waste your time and nobody sees your efforts.
Turn it around: Infographic on improving social media use
Make your own site
You bodge together a ’90s site. You never update it. You don’t include event pages. Your SEO is poor. You spend lots of time making and maintaining this thing or worse you spend no time making and maintaining it. Nobody finds your lone site.
Turn it around: Use Meetup
You don’t keep an archive of past events. You don’t post an agenda. You don’t include important info like the language the talk is in. You don’t let people know what to expect when they show up.
Turn it around: Event description writing tips
You organise the group to make it convenient for you attend. You throw it at your out of city center venue. You throw it during the day, or on weekends. Oddly nobody else shows up at that out of down campus during the working day.
Turn it around: Picking the date
The event description is mainly acronyms. There are references to getting drunk. You’re making jokes at someone’s expense. No tolerance of newbs is shown. You say you expect few people to bother turning up. You do your damnedest to discourage people who aren’t like you.
Turn it around: Event Organisers Considerations
Operate in a vacuum
You don’t talk to other local user groups. You don’t consider other events when you set a date and clash. You don’t network and gain contacts for potential speakers. You’re the only one who talks. You don’t ask for feedback from the people who show up.
Turn it around: Find new speakers
What other bad ways of running a user group have you seen? Can you recommend extra resources for people looking to do better? Comment below!
* You don’t talk about Fight Club