4 things to keep in mind when organising a startup meetup

Long gone are the days where we heard of people invited to Facebook events for house parties that were public for a few regrettable hours, got out of hand, subsequently shut down by police and left earthquake-like debris for the homeowners. Now that we are older, wiser and more sensible, we know it’s best to organise meetups instead. Here are our top tips to keep in mind when you’re organising a meetup for your startup.

1. Make it interesting
There’s no need to reinvent the wheel, here. But, and we’re not naming names, how many panel events about x y z can we survive? Think about what a startup audience REALLY want.

A sure-fire way to get a buzz going for your meetup is to secure a celebrity or industry famous face for a Q&A, Fireside Chat or panel discussion. Do you have any connections to any, either directly, through friends or colleagues? There’s no harm in putting some effort in to find out, you never know what may come off and if you don’t ask then you don’t get. If you are going down the panel route, make sure it is balanced.

Also, avoid a halftime break. Don’t make the content of your session too long and remember the value of leaving some time for people to network.

2. Location, location, location
If your office is based in London, it’s going to be tricky to get people to travel to rural Dorset for your startup meetup, even if it’s in a picturesque country home, nestled in rolling the English countryside. Make it as easy as possible for people to attend, with a 6 PM start on a nothing-night like a midweek Wednesday. No one wants to give up their Friday night, no matter how important your startup is.

People are busy, stressed and tired. So make your meetup seem like a welcome release from the working week, and like it’s going to be a joy to attend. Does your office have an event space? Great! Book it early. If it doesn’t, look for low-cost but high-impact options like a summer's evening in Hyde Park. Think a bit outside of the box, and don’t break the bank. There are hundreds of options here, but be sure to think of your audience, subject matter and relate it to the timing of the year and of the week. How best can these factors come together in the perfect event space?

3. Do you have any friends?
This isn’t a dig. We promise. But we all get by with a little help from our friends and you can always count on them, we hope. If you are looking to populate an event, whether that be on Facebook or on a popular meetup hosting website, never disregard the trusty superficial ‘Attending’ count on how people view that event. No one wants to go to an event with ‘0 Attending’, so send the link to your friends' group chat and ask them to sign up. They may not attend physically, but that +1 to the virtual attendee list will get the ball rolling.

Get your contacts to share the event, too. When you’re organising an event, there’s an epicentre of your closest contacts, colleagues and friends, that you should hit up. Utilise the trusted circle you can count on to attend physically or just online. Listing a startup meetup against the abyss of meetups already listed online is like being thrown in the deep-end. Your contact list will make sure you swim, not sink. Also, make sure you create materials so your friends can publicise the event easily.

4. New connections
Once your network has pushed the event to the extent that they can, it’s now time to focus on new connections. The easiest way to reach these new event-attendees is through social media, so be sure to draft a plan for your social content regarding how to target them. They are out there, in every nook and cranny on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Have at least two tweets or like content to post on all of these.

If you do not want to mar your beautiful Instagram aesthetic, you can always post a screenshot of the Eventbrite page of your event, on your Instagram story. Instagram is a perfect marketing tool if used correctly. You can reach an audience in a variety of ways: raw posts, sponsored posts, through embedded links in a Story, or by using an influencer.

Tag brands or other accounts in/on the images in the story and if you have over 10K followers then you can include a ‘swipe up’ function that takes the viewer straight to the Eventbrite page. If you don’t, then keep this as a goal for your page! Be sure, also, to save the stories as a Highlight on your Instagram page. Stories are perfect for growing brand awareness and traffic to other areas of your business. Stylistic choices in Stories, such as GIFs, appeal to the ever-diminishing attention span of an online audience. They also log who has viewed them, so you have an idea of who has seen that you’re putting that event on, too.

Happy planning!