Re: [robotrobot] Member or non-Member?

From: Peter
Sent on: Monday, February 18, 2013 11:53 AM
On Mon,[masked] at 02:30 -0500, Thomas M. wrote:
According to Meetup, we have nearly 250 members, yet at any given meeting we only have 15-20 people attend. Where are those 230 other people?

Most online clubs count their membership by the number of subbed email addresses.  Why?

It makes the group seem bigger.  People like to be part of a bigger group.  The bigger the better.

Reducing the size of the group, by artificially unsubbing those now deemed as "undesireable" may have an adverse impact, a "backlash" (technical term coined in the USENET days).

I advocate increasing the size of the mailing list, to 400, or 600, or better to 1,000 or more.  Why?

More attendees are likely to result from this direction for the mailing list, compared to the suggested direction of decreasing the membership count.

How does not increase the size of a mailing list?

I've written on this topic several times over the last two decades.  It's simple.

Increase the value of the mailing list.  So, people join it.

How is that done?  More value?

I've encouraged/invited expert members to post replies to novice questions, so novices get value quickly.

I've authored a 'properly motivational' announcement blurb, that explains the "values" one gets in attending meetings.

What's that mean?

Each segment of the meeting has it's own set of unique value propositions.

Take for example the Long Beach Robot Club meeting agenda.  I've found the most valuable segment of this meeting to be the adhoc member presentations that last 2+ hours at the end of the meeting.  Took me by surprise.  I would have thought the scheduled/invited speaker for 1 to 1.5 hours and their presentation would be an overwhelming value.  And it is.  But the adhoc presentations, of member projects, with Q&A introduces such a tremendous range of highly factual, extremely knowledgeable factoids, I have never seen any other type of user meeting have such a huge value from such a wide range of outspoken to timid members presenting their fav hobby past time.

And yet, this segment of the RCCS meeting is the least advertised, the least written about, and the part of the meeting that draws and sucks in and holds the attention of all the attendees, for a spell binding 2 hours.

I've not gotten to the Riverside Meetings, as it's a two hour drive for me.  And from it's meeting announcements I know very little of what goes on during the meeting.  I'd hope it would be like the sister RCCS meetings, that I enjoy so much, but the last 6 months have not been able to attend due to becoming a member of a start up firm, working[masked] hour work weeks.  I do so enjoy coding Arduinos, though not for robot design, and I am about to buy my third, and likely a Propeller.  And I own my proficiency in understanding this tech, and what it could bring to my start up firm all to the RCCS meetings.

But nothing in the meetup announcements ever indicated that I would learn stuff like that.

To be blunt about the lesson to learn from the above, meeting email announcements need an "Agenda", a bullet list, followed by one paragraph per bullet point, that explains in clear terms the "value added proposition" of what one will learn by coming for that segment.  It's not enough to say "Meeting".  There is no "value" to that word.  The "value" must be "spelled out."

Two last feedback points below.

EMail announcements are 'forwarded' by me to my friends I know might be interested in a meeting topic.  Eliminating my ability to read, and forward, your meeting announcements will likely reduce getting the word out, and soliciting new members to attend your meetings.

Formatting your 'email' meeting announcements to be suitable for printing, even if two pages, and posting those two pages around the surrounding higher educational institutes' 'robotic' physical bulletin boards, where pre-qualified robot hobbyists abound, will increase attendance.

Get the word out.  Get exposure.  Create public awareness.  More of that.

Sure, these methods only draw in 1-2 members a meeting, but after 1 year, that 12-24 new attendees.  In five years that 60 people coming to each monthly meeting.

That's your goal right?

One last thought.  A "meetup.com" email list is NOT enough to get you to 60+ monthly attendees.  Special PR efforts must be done, to get public awareness, get the word out.

Use of the facilities 'announcement' mechanisms would be wise.  They publish a monthly schedule?  Ask about putting a "poster" up in their hallway, a 2x3 Foot poster, for daily patrons to see.  Include a quarter page, colored paper, handout with the poster.  Put those quarter page handouts at the local JCs, college's robot labs, and campus engineering buildings.  Do it for just one year.  Then find a volunteer to do for another year.  Repeat.

Put a 2x3 poster outside the meeting building, so passerbys can read it.  BIG PRINT:

FREE
ROBOT
BUILDING
MEETING

Are you going to have a booth at SCALE this coming weekend?  I would think an out reach to all those Linux geeks would double membership size within a year.

Those Linux geeks have mailing lists.  And many of them do embedded programming.  Cross posting your email meeting announcement to their list would be good.  UCLA and USC LUGs will not flame you for cross posting just once a year, at the beginning of the school year.  Ditto the SGV, SFV, LULA, and other LUGs.  See www.LALUGs.org for more places to cross posted, not monthly, but every 6 months.

Ask your surrounding schools, including high schools, that have robot labs, or after school clubs.  Not just college campuses.

Ask at the local electronic supply stores to add a flyer to their bulletin board.  Ditto the gold prospecting stores (those gold detectors are computers and have been for over two decade now).  Every college engineering lab and physics lab should have your flyer hanging near by.  Maybe even chem labs as well.

Every library might let you put up a flyer, now and then.

You do not have to do all this yourself.  Get volunteers.  Print out this email, take it to the meeting, and ask if someone will volunteer for each one of these items. 

Growing a group takes effort.  I'm not talking about the effort level to type and post an email.  Hint: read the above post.  ;^0

Good luck,

Peter
Los Angeles Open Source User Group Advocate

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