A growing trend in the online world and social media in general is the proliferation of social groups and networks that are taking their services and members offline. Businesses like Yelp, Biznik and many others are looking for ways to maintain their user base and gain new customers.
In some cases the company holds sanctioned events and group networking meetings, but members often take it upon themselves to set up networking events. This is slowly creating more tight knit communities that are great for meeting people for general purposes and for networking.
The value in this lies in the fact that community members get to meet with each other in person, conduct business, swap stories and reviews, and generally have a good time with like-minded people.
For the companies involved, there is another overarching goal that inspires them to organize such events: sticking power. They want to keep members and creating a tight little community is a great way to ensure people stay. Also, taking it offline means more people will talk about it and they may potentially gain a whole new base of consumers.
These communities are fast becoming an integral part of the social web, driving and shaping its course. For example, all you have to do is go to Myspace.com and there are always events, concerts and myriad other possibilities on the outside world hosted by them and joined by thousands and millions of community members.
Yelp has events throughout the US and is growing quickly. Biznik.com holds many events and a weekly happy hour for its community members.
Beyond the socializing theme, the real value in this lies in the many business opportunities available to community users. Goods and services are talked about and discussed, you get to know the person you’re buying from or selling to, and much more.
This is one of the reasons why Social Media Systems pays so much attention to making our clients part of these communities; if you become an active member and participate in events, you can both meet people and pitch a service or product that one, they need, and two, they’re interested in.