Meetup, BigTent, GroupSpaces and other social sites where you actually get to know real people…

…and not in the biblical sense, or at least I don’t think that’s the primary intention.

I had mentioned in my post here that I’d recently found a list of even more social media sites than I had previously listed here. The social media world is so HUGE… it’s exhausting just thinking about it. However I’ve started so I’ll finish, (yeah right, wouldn’t that be nice…hey guys, I’ve finished the internet, phew… go me!) and have been taking a look at a few more.

Image representing Meetup as depicted in Crunc...
Image via CrunchBase

Some (like Tagged and LiveJournal) I can’t make sense of, maybe I’m not who they’re pitched at; but others like Meetup, BigTent and GroupSpaces seem like a great idea!

In case (like me) you’re new to these sites, the basic concept is to use the ease of connecting with like-minded souls online to create equivalent location based groups who actually meet up and interact in person – a concept called “building social capital”.

For decades the internet and computers had been (partly) blamed for the reduction of physical interaction between people (i.e. reducing social capital) so here was the antidote!

Image representing BigTent Design as depicted ...
Image via CrunchBase

I started looking at MeetUp (which led me to the other two) and quickly found out that I’m really late (like really, REALLY late) to the party. It’s been around since 2001 in various forms and globally it has over 11 million members in over 100,000 groups having over 300,000 meet up’s per month. The other two sites are smaller, GroupSpaces in particular doesn’t seem to have much of a Sydney presence.

A quick look at the MeetUp groups in Sydney showed a lot of singles groups (mainly billed as “girls night out” groups so maybe I’m being cynical here), even more tech groups, plenty of startup/entrepreneurial groups and a good amount of book clubs, fitness clubs and mothers groups.

GroupSpaces (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The site owners make money by charging whoever sets up the group a nominal fee per month. helps the group get started by sending out invites to possible members. The site is modern looking and really easy to use – although I couldn’t find the pricing model, the only reason I knew there was payment involved was because they were advertising a 50% discount. GroupSpaces starts at around $15 per month so I’m assuming the others have similar prices (Edit June 2013 – BigTent is a free service).

Such a great and seemingly simple idea – and yet another part of the interweb I have only just discovered πŸ™‚


If you’d like to know more, there’s a history of MeetUp on Wikipedia here and an article on the Social Capital Blog here. There is also an indepth Harvard study on MeetUp written in 2005 here.

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Author: Sue @ Oysterfruit

Owner at

14 thoughts on “Meetup, BigTent, GroupSpaces and other social sites where you actually get to know real people…”

  1. I would be lost without Ravelry. I have been a member since February 4, 2008 and I am on it every day, multiple times. I use it as a knitting project and yarn stash database, as a gigantic pattern research library, and as a place to meet and interact with other people from around the world who have similar interests. I have many new real-life and virtual friends because of Ravelry. It’s really a social network site like no other in my opinion.

  2. I had to laugh at your “hey guys, I’ve finished the internets!” comment. Wasn’t there a commercial about that once upon a time? Anyway, this is the first I’m hearing of these social media meet up sites but they seem like a great idea! I have met lots of people “IRL” from the internet – my husband included! We met on a dating site, and I’ve met 22 wonderful mums from all over Australia thanks to a parenting forum. I have met almost all of them in person through the last 4.5 years of chatting to them online. Could be a great source for people new to a town, especially! Thanks for sharing! x Aroha #teamIBOT

    1. Hi, thanks for dropping by! I have quite a few friends who married a partner they met online over the last few years. Life is so busy no one has the time to randomly bump into someone they could spend the rest of their life with anymore. When you think about it, it sounds crazy to even leave it to chance! Loved your Kindy post, completely agree with the spelling thing, I mean, the kids are supposed to learn there, aren’t they?

  3. We live in such a different world now don’t we? I was reading this thinking how would I try to explain it to my dad, and honestly, I don’t think I would even try!

  4. Group Spaces and Big Tent don’t work. Tried to search on groups by zip code and they show groups from all over the world. Too bad because Meetup sucks and someone should be able to create an alternative that works.

      1. I believe will be that alternative. It has a kiwi layering system that will let you put each person in a different part of the kiwi. Like say you’re having a house party, you’d put them in whatever part of the kiwi you want to. You do search for groups by zip code. You can enter your email for beta. I hear it launches in Spring.

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