Mar 162013

The basis of this post, in part, is a thread in Leadership Forum. In addition to my (modified) cross-post below, I suggest reading the thread, Actively Recruiting for Munches, for other suggestions, as well as any that may be added here as well.

Prior to the emergence of FetLife, I was the owner of a successful Yahoo group geared to lifestyle newcomers (GDsN). As part of my goal for the group to be an information resource, I gathered and organized links for local groups around the world. As I would add each group to GDsN’s listings, I would also email the owner of that organization (most at that time being other Yahoo groups). I introduced our group and its purpose, asking them to cross post our link in their listings, and invite them to join our group as well.

Before joining GDsN, I spoke via Messenger to most prospective members. This gave me a chance to speak to literally dozens (hundreds?) of group leaders. Below are some ideas for growing your munch that I’ve picked along the way:

  • Use greeters. Be on the look out for lurkers. When possible have someone meet newcomers near the entrance. Make it apparent (without being obvious) which is your group (eg a particular centerpiece, a unique part of the restaurant) to prevent the newcomer from having to ask facility personnel;
  • The more people involved in the process, the better chance that visitors will turn into members. Do not rely on a single individual to do all the reaching out (due to personalities, schedule conflicts, etc);
  • Don’t end the “greet” at hello. Do your best to connect guests to others that may be a good fit for their interests or personalities. Afterward, don’t forget follow up, via calls, IMs or emails;
  • Cross pollinate with other nearby groups. (eg a western Atlanta suburbs group whose members often visit an Alabama group, and vice versa.) Don’t be greedy with members or presenters; sharing tends to multiply rather than diminish;
  • Be familiar with other groups in your area. No one group will serve the groups of all people. If your group is a bad fit for some reason, know enough to not take it personally, and to know where to refer the person;
  • Self patrol and self control. Too often (though, not always by any means), those that get involved with helping newcomers, tend to be putting themselves at the front of the line for “fresh meat.” Be aware who is more likely predatory. Be mindful of ways to educate, inform and protect (while avoiding stepping into gossip and relationship smears);*
  • Order group business cards. VistaPrint is super cheap (often, just pay shipping). You can list the group’s web information, without personal identifiers, so several may carry them at a minimum cost. Be sure and have pens on the tables, so people can exchange numbers, Fet IDs, etc.

In addition, here are some specific things to consider in your web presence to build traffic and increase visitors to your group:

  • List specific cities and locales that are served by your group. Consider a list such as this one to increase the likelihood that your group will be found in a search. (eg You may be the Cobb County Munch, but if you don’t describe yourself as meeting in Marietta, Georgia, you could lose out.)
  • Be careful with acronyms. They can be cute, but if they don’t convey who and where you are, especially when being searched, your “audience” won’t necessarily find you, especially if you don’t spell it out.
  • Double check abbreviations (eg B’ham Munch may seem clearly Birmingham, except it won’t likely turn up in search results)
  • Take the time to spell check and have more than one person proofread the listing. What is obvious as you’re writing can be vague or nonsensical to another. Common words that are misspelled or used wrong include: Dominant/dominate, consensual, bestiality, you’re/your, they’re/there/their.
  • Join groups that encourage promotion, such as Advertise Your Small Group or FetLife Information & Group Advertising.
  • Make your group’s link your tagline and/or include it in your “websites listed.”
  • Consider your phrasing. To include a statement like, “We will no longer have drama like in the past” can cause someone considering joining for the first time to hesitate. Avoid in jokes and other appearances of being cliquish.
  • Make sure the page is up-to-date. If you have links to other places, verify them regularly. If you list an address or phone number, ensure it is current.
  • Avoid cliches like the plague. (grinz)
  • Periodically search for your group as if you were new. Can you find it in more with more than one search? For example, do you show up in both Hollywood and California?

Hope these ideas help. I welcome other suggestions you may have.

Good luck and much success!

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