20 February 2023

Social, Budget

Also Known As: INETA

Problem: Your product/service is out and available, and has some popularity, but there doesn't feel like there is much "community" around it: It's difficult to identify individuals who are using it as opposed to those who just examine it. It feels like there are people out there who could benefit from finding one another and gathering periodically to discuss it, but the community remains entirely online.

Context: You want to increase the interactivity and reach simultaneously, but conferences are too rarely-occurring to meet regular interactivity goals. (Most conferences run once or twice a year, and you're looking for monthly interaction.) Additionally, you want to improve the interactivity between the members of the community ("side-to-side"), not just between your company and customers ("top-down"). No existing user group community or network exists. You have significant budget, and significant organizational bandwidth.

Solution: Create, sponsor, and organize one (or more) user groups in geographic regions (most often large cities) that gather individuals who are interested in the company or product/service for discussions and camraderie. Use a tool like Meetup.com to organize and advertise. Find or provide venue space. Find or provide speakers. Provide swag. Connect Ambassaders to UGs. After some period of time (years, most likely), look to hand off the administration of each group to a local leader within each group.

Consequences: The creation of a User Group network is no small undertaking--it will require significant investment in time, money, and bandwidth. The larger the network desired, the more people required to organize, and it may be beneficial to have company employees somewhat local to each region in which the network is being created, at least to timezone/continental levels. (Encourage those employees to regularly attend the user group meetings to maximize interactivity and connection.)

User groups love Swag. And pizza. (Or other easily-delivered food options; consider breaking away from the mold and providing Chinese food, just to be different. Anything that can be served "family style" is a good candidate.)

At some point, the User Groups will need to be supported organically, or they will die off over time. Chances are strong that some will in certain areas anyway, no matter how much support your company puts into them. From the start, look to identify individuals within each region who are willing and able to handle the organization and administration of the user group; many such individuals are often willing to do so, so long as there is some level of financial and marketing support from the company.

User groups are a fantastic way to identify Ambassadors within the community.


Tags: devrel   patterns