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
GroupSpaces (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The site owners make money by charging whoever sets up the group a nominal fee per month. MeetUp.com 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 🙂

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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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