I love user groups and I always want there to be more. I’m not a perfect organiser but I run reasonable groups. When I see organisers doing it badly, it makes me sad. There’s lots of great ways to run a user group, but I thought I’d cover some of the bad ways to run a user group. The anti-patterns if you will 😀

Don’t advertise

Your group isn’t on Twitter. Event notifications don’t get posted on local mailing lists / Slack groups. Your group basically runs on Fight Club rules*, and you wonder why you don’t get new people attending.

Turn it around: Getting started with social media

Advertise badly

You post notifications via arcane methods with low readership or high barriers to entry. You only post in the tiny LinkedIn group you set up. You don’t include vital information like the location of the event. In short, you waste your time and nobody sees your efforts.

Turn it around: Infographic on improving social media use

Make your own site

You bodge together a ’90s site. You never update it. You don’t include event pages. Your SEO is poor. You spend lots of time making and maintaining this thing or worse you spend no time making and maintaining it. Nobody finds your lone site.

Turn it around: Use Meetup

Promote uncertainty

You don’t keep an archive of past events. You don’t post an agenda. You don’t include important info like the language the talk is in. You don’t let people know what to expect when they show up.

Turn it around: Event description writing tips

Be awkward

You organise the group to make it convenient for you attend. You throw it at your out of city center venue. You throw it during the day, or on weekends. Oddly nobody else shows up at that out of down campus during the working day.

Turn it around: Picking the date

Write negatively

The event description is mainly acronyms. There are references to getting drunk. You’re making jokes at someone’s expense. No tolerance of newbs is shown. You say you expect few people to bother turning up. You do your damnedest to discourage people who aren’t like you.

Turn it around: Event Organisers Considerations

Operate in a vacuum

You don’t talk to other local user groups. You don’t consider other events when you set a date and clash. You don’t network and gain contacts for potential speakers. You’re the only one who talks. You don’t ask for feedback from the people who show up.

Turn it around: Find new speakers

What other bad ways of running a user group have you seen? Can you recommend extra resources for people looking to do better? Comment below!

* You don’t talk about Fight Club

Bad ways to run a user group
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3 thoughts on “Bad ways to run a user group

  • 07/07/2016 at 14:08
    Permalink

    I think some of these things come about through people having extremely busy lives.
    So one I’d add would be ‘Except or ask for offers of help in running the user group’. Relinquish control of the things you don’t have time to do. No one is a superhero (even though some of us like dressing up as them 😉 ).
    Nothing wrong in more than one person running a user group, eh?

    Reply
    • 07/07/2016 at 14:23
      Permalink

      Excellent point! A great addendum to the Vacuum list.

      Reply
  • 07/07/2016 at 17:47
    Permalink

    It’s not always about delegation, I imagine it’s also about setting expectations. How much time should one expect that running a UG should take? I imagine one or two hours a month is wildly naive but I imagine it’s an expectation many have.

    Reply

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