Meetup, the popular online service for organizing and joining in groups based around shared interests, is today expanding beyond the consumer crowd for the first time with the debut of a new product aimed at businesses. Called Meetup Pro, larger organizations and corporations can take advantage of Meetup’s platform for managing a network of Meetup chapters spanning locations, while also tapping into a suite of business-level tools that will help them better understand and connect with their online communities.
Meetup today has over 21 million members and hosts over 200,000 groups, and while many are led by individuals, larger organizations have been on the platform for years, too. However, their participation, until today, was more informal. Now, with the debut of Meetup Pro, the company wants to respond to the feedback and input these customers provided in terms of what they wanted to see Meetup offer organizations that wanted to use the platform to better manage their numerous events.
With the new service, organizations can launch and manage their Meetups in cities around the world using a single, centralized account, and visualize their Meetup activity on a responsive webpage that shows the community as well as who’s hosting their next Meetup.
Explains Fiona Spruill, VP of Product at Meetup, Meetup Pro will allow organizations the ability to increase engagement with their members or customers, which Spruill says can then help to “increase sales, encourage more visits to a store or help spread the word about their products.”
The product has been in beta testing with a number of customers who will now be moving over to the increased functionality as of today.
“Tech companies including Salesforce and Docker are some of the earliest adopters because they’re familiar with our platform, and their users are already active on Meetup,” notes Spruill, detailing the sorts of companies that would take advantage of the new service. “But it’s not just tech companies. Many other businesses see an opportunity to create communities by bringing people together to talk in real life, to form friendships and to do fun things together,” she says.
“For example, Performance Bicycle is a franchise of bike shops that organizes local biking Meetups that leave from their stores. Girl Develop It is an organization that was spawned on Meetup. It started as a single Meetup to teach women to code, and now has grown to include 47 locations around the country,” Spruill adds.
While the service is still a bit bares bones at launch, Meetup Pro is soon expanding to include a suite of business tools including analytics and reporting that will enable groups to visualize key network metrics based on member engagement and activity, plus tools that let the organization communicate with local leaders and share news, offer support and gather feedback.
Organizations will also be able to manage their membership lists more easily with the new product by sorting member information based on things like activity level. This can help them target more involved members when sending out communications, as well as connect with those more casual followers and turn them into engaged users. And organizations will be able to drill down and view individual member profiles.
While Meetup’s current plans for consumers start at $9.99 per month and go up to $39.99 based on the number of members, organizers and access to other tools, Meetup Pro pricing (TBD) will be based on how many Meetup groups an organization launches. Businesses can try the product for free with a limited number of groups in order to test the service.
The move comes at a time when Meetup is challenged on the consumer side of its business, where free alternatives like Facebook Groups have grown more popular as a way to host and manage small groups – like study groups, book clubs, mom groups, clubs for outdoor activity enthusiasts and more. By expanding into the business arena with specialized tools, Meetup has the chance to grow its user base and its revenue further.