Take Your Group to 2.0: A New Series to Evolve Your Mac User Group from The MUG Center

The world of personal computing is constantly changing, and that means user groups are also constantly changing..or at least they should be. We’ve seen many groups enthusiastically and successfully adapt to new technology, new socialization options and new structure models. We’ve also seen many groups struggle with those issues and more, missing opportunities for benefit, interaction and fun.
User Groups 2.0
There have been lots of discussions but not enough specific action to help groups accomplish the evolution necessary to survive and thrive in today’s environment. That’s why The MUG Center is starting a new regular feature: Take Your Group to 2.0.

Each week for the next year (yes, year), we’ll be providing you and your group a tip on how to improve and put you in the User Groups 2.0, best of class category. Many of the pieces to the puzzle are simple. Some will be repeats, yet we see many groups who don’t do them. If you’re already doing them, that’s great: you’re ahead of the game. If not, we believe most of them will be easy to implement, especially if you are truly interested in moving your group forward.

“Taking Your Group to 2.0” will include best practices, ideas about what you have been doing, what you should be doing and more, all in bite-sized pieces that are more likely to be implemented than if we just published one big list that looks overwhelming. We want to help you get and keep you in the mindset of advancing your group.

We’ll start the list with a very simple one: Publish your group’s next meeting date and topic on the front page of your web site.

Sounds simple, but take a few minutes, go to The MUG Center’s Surfboard, start clicking on links and you’ll learn just how few do it, or do a good job of it. .We surf plenty of MUG web sites and it is still amazing how many groups offer all sorts of information on their front page, but make visitors click once, twice, even three times (and sometimes even scroll) to find out when the group meets next and what the topic will be.

Find a place to put your meeting info on your front page, preferably in the same spot every month. Post it in red letters, post it in a bold font, do whatever you need to do to make it obvious, but make it one of the first, most obvious things that your members or guests see when they go to your site, besides your name and logo.

Key points:

  • What you did at your last meeting might be very interesting, but we missed it. What’s coming up next that will cause someone to get off the sofa, into their car and to your next meeting? Information that can easily be found and is interesting.
  • Want to include lots of details? That’s fine…but do it on a dedicated page within the site where you are free to elaborate fully without boring the casual reader or taking up too much front page space. Date and Topic.
  • Don’t make a visitor click even once to get to the information. That means no “Our Next Meeting” links or pages, or at least not as a replacement for your front page.
  • Make sure that you are clear about what listings or events are “meetings,” as opposed to Special Interest Groups, Workshops, officer meetings or whatever else your group has. “Presentations” is a good word, but would that indicate something to download or the topic of the next meeting?

Want a couple examples? The Rhode Island Macintosh Users Group makes their next meeting info the centerpiece of their front page. Visitors know exactly when, where, what and who without even trying.

MacCore of Kansas City does a great job of defining an area of the front page for “Upcoming Meetings” with date and topic. They use their page’s layout as a way to make the write-up of the next meeting the feature article, but if you don’t need the details, the key info clear, concise and easy to find.

Don’t make your members or visitors search for your next meeting information…they might find something else to do.

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