Take Your Group to 2.0: Once A Month Just Isn’t Enough

User Groups 2.0

Your Mac User Group’s newsletter is, most likely, something of a sacred tradition. Many groups see their newsletter as the single biggest benefit they deliver, and the primary way they communicate both Mac and group news to their members. In a world moving at the speed of the Internet, a monthly newsletter is fine for some types of information, but in most cases, once a month just isn’t enough.

MUGs should take a cue from the Mac magazines when it comes to publishing. Less and less print space is being devoted to the “news” items and pieces that go quickly out of date. That coverage is moving to the web, and to weekly, or even daily, email delivery. The paper (expensive in and of itself, and costly to deliver) is being dedicated to those articles that have some staying power: hardware and software reviews, how-to’s, tips and tricks, etc.

This model also allows the publisher to “touch” their readers in several different ways, and much more often than the traditional once-every-thirty-days standard of old.

From the User Group 2.0 perspective, providing your members with online reminders of special events, meetings and critical information that can’t or shouldn’t wait until the end of the month delivers the value you seek to offer and more. All the links you include will be clickable (don’t forget to place them between carrots i.e. <http://www.mugcenter.com> to keep them from breaking at the wrong place and becoming unusable), and no piece of information has to wait for another. So what if you send three emails in three days? That’s three times your members will hear from you. Assuming that you are prudent in your decisions about what to send, they will appreciate your efforts.

Previously, we suggested that you discontinue your printed newsletter, opting for email delivery or download of a PDF version (Take Your Group to 2.0: Stop Killing Trees). If you and your members feel the need for the benefits of a traditional newsletter, that’s fine: deliver it by email and still use the email list for timely communications.

But what if you abandoned the newsletter completely, opting to forward your members each article, announcement or review as it becomes available? No more waiting. Again, all links will be clickable and your members enjoy multiple touch points from the group. All that time it takes to produce an attractive newsletter suitable for printing can be saved in favor of delivering content. Best of all, virtually all the costs associated with the production and distribution of your newsletter disappear.

If you aren’t collecting your member’s email addresses as part of your membership sign-up or renewal process, start *now*. Even if you never adopt a email newsletter distribution scheme, they are handy in case of emergency or timely communication needs (meeting cancellations due to weather, an unexpected visit by Steve Jobs, etc.).
In 1991, management guru Tom Peters produced a management training video that proclaimed, “Time-obsessed management may well be the primary battleground in the pursuit of global competitiveness in the next ten years.” Long before the rise of the Internet, Tom had it exactly right with the title: Speed is Life: Get Fast or Go Broke. It may be old advice, but it holds true today and into the foreseeable future.

And that’s the point: for User Groups 2.0, in the area of member communications, once a month just isn’t enough.

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