Sorry, Meetup.com, I’m already suffering social networking fatigue

I’m always interested in seeing how the social networking process is being captured at various online sites, so I’ve been variously part of Orkut, Friendster, Ryze, LinkedIn and even MySpace. For some sites, a social network is a logical outgrowth too. Think of sites where you’re visiting because of specific shared interests with other members and becoming friends with them.
Think Meetup.com, the newest entrant in the social networking derby.
There is a curious sort of logic to these new features, since Meetup is already focused on arranging and coordinating face to face meetings. You probably remember Meetup for its extensive press coverage during the last election: it became the favorite meeting coordination tool for politically active folk of various stripes.


There’s no presidential race around the corner, which appears to have given the Meetup team a chance to really think through the future of its business, especially the question they’ve always had of how the heck do we monetize this thing? Their last attempt, a switch from free to paid event coordination, didn’t go over too well in the marketplace, as I wrote about in The Evolving Business Plan of Meetup.com
Nonetheless, there are an impressive number of coordinators using Meetup for organization and logistics, including over 350 groups in the greater Denver, Colorado area ranging from board games to alternative health, poetry networks to psychics, survivalism to the feral cat meetup.
Put all those meetings together, sprinkle in thousands of different people who either organize or attend one or more event, and you really do have the seeds for a nice social network, and so…

Meetup.com Social Network Components

You can see the new tabs along the top of my Meetup Profile: “Friends” and “Testimonials”. Indeed, I have two Meetup friends already, both fellow Coloradoans.
But here’s what I want to know: do we really need yet another social network?
How on earth are we supposed to keep up with them all and make sure that they’re all reasonably well maintained and up-to-date. I’ve already started just ignoring mail people send me within the MySpace world, because I just can’t deal with the terrible email interface on the site.
Here’s a startup idea: we need a tool that lets you have one centralized profile that you maintain and it would automatically update all the different social networks and sites with a social network component so that you’d have a consolidated view of all your friends across the networks, a tool to make sure your profile is updated on all the sites. etc.
Without such a tool, I fear that Meetup’s social networking tools are just too little, too small, and too late. I know I can’t deal with yet another social network…
How about you? Are you suffering from social networking fatigue yet?

11 comments on “Sorry, Meetup.com, I’m already suffering social networking fatigue

  1. Coupla things. First, I’m surprised you’re lumping Meetup in with Orkut, Ryze, etc. Meetup is merely an enabling tool for _offline_ networking…which to me is far more social and interesting than MySpace, LinkedIn, et al ad nauseum.
    Secondly, Meetup’s been around for quite some time, long before Ryze or Orkut peaked and ebbed…they’re no Johnny Come Lately.
    Social networking fatigue? Sure. But only with the online kind, which is why I cancelled nearly all of my online networking memberships. Building actual friendships in the real world is far more interesting than clicking one more checkbox to add someone as a “friend”. I encourage people to get out from behind their monitors and give it a shot.
    Eric Weaver, organizer
    Seattle Flickr Meetups (http://flickrfan.meetup.com/11)

  2. I’m not only fatigued over them, I don’t even try to read about the endless networks emerging anymore.
    The only exception is, well, the exceptional. There’s room there, but it just can’t be the copycat offerings that really don’t have much differentiation.
    The recent network targeting the over 50 crowd may be something that appeals to the network weary of that demographic.

  3. Eric, first off, I’m well aware of Meetup’s history and wonder if I didn’t convey my point well: it’s not that Meetup is yet another social networking site, it’s that by adding the “friends” and “testimonials” features, the site evolving *into* yet another social networking site. Or should I say Yet Another Social Networking Site with caps, to denote its inevitable use as an acronym?
    Anyway, yes, meeting people in person is always better, but then why would I want to link to them on Meetup if I have met them in person? And if I *did* want to link to them, why not use a more established and sophisticated social or professional networking site like LinkedIn, with its millions of users and professional focus, or MySpace with its music/entertainment focus?
    My point is that when features like “link your friends” are so darn easy to add, it’s perhaps inevitable that more and more Web sites will utilize them to try and be more “sticky”, but that doesn’t mean it makes any sort of sense, but it DOES mean that we’re all going to burn out on filling out yet another profile, updating yet another online resume, and cross-checking email addresses and known friends far, far sooner.

  4. Personally, I prefer the “distributed” approach. The Flock browser is going in that direction, although it doesn’t do profiles yet. In my opinion this is more trustworthy than the “centralized” approach where all my data is on a server I can’t control.
    And for the centralized approach to work at all, there would have to be a monopoly situation where only one player controls everything. This will not happen. A lot of players, big and small, are working on “one centralized profile” and will fight nail and tooth for their marketshare. Which means we’d have to login to several competing “centralized” sites to share profiles with our friends and contacts.
    And isn’t it ironic that we want to battle “social network fatigue” with even more “social software”?

  5. I joined Meetup for a few days. The concept was great, I thought. The problem was that I couldn’t log in to the site after I posted a network ad. I emailed back and forth to their help desk at least 6 or 8 times. I got so frustrated at their inability to help I finally requested they cancel the forum and return my money.

  6. I’m on MeetUp, Now What? I joined two months ago and their are a ton of network marketers on there promoting their products or services or maybe that’s just my experience. It sucks and works at the same time. I often question how I can keep up with more than one network at a time. so, I just focus on a few and try not to drive myself crazy.

  7. Here is the REAL trouble with internet socializing-it is nothing but haphazard. too many sites like meetup, face book, etc.
    Just like dating sites. Too many and few members on each one. It may list a lot of people but look at the activity on a meet up event-20 or less and usually about 2-4 people actually show up.
    I have been to a few meet up events and it was just me and the organzier.!
    Everyone thinks the comuper and the internet is going to end their lonliness. WRONG
    It has INCREASED it.
    Too much confusion, scams and GS .
    The internet MAY evolve into this master network center that you join and you are matched up with things were people actually attend events, you can really get dates, etc.
    But the internet is now all about greed and not like it was in the late 90’s to early 2000’s. It was like the wild west back then but at least is was not all about making money. More about connecting people
    And the creation of cheap internet service and cheap computers and cell phones that access the net does not help.
    And i doubt anyone card about this blog.

  8. Richard, you sound like a pretty unhappy chap who has had some bad experiences online. Sorry to hear it. Conversely, I have to say that getting online and being active in social networks has been a huge boon to both my social and professional life. I have a vast circle of friends and colleagues both in my local area and throughout the world and it’s a great thing.
    And as to whether anyone cares about this? Well, I do. And that’s why I keep it going…
    Thanks for stopping by.

  9. I have to say that as an meetup organizer, I’ve had mostly negative experiences as well. Like the negative chap said, you’ll have countless people RSVP and then half or less actually show up.
    If I teach classes, no one wants to pay because they can go to another of the similar 500 other meetup groups and get a free infomercial. They are collectively a horde of people who just point and click on any “new” group and then lose interest and stop attending completely after 2-3 meetups.
    Look at the sheer volume of meetup groups closing daily or simply with no members or no activity; and we organizers pay the considerable meetup.com fees only to have the ego horde simply drop a new group after its first 2-3 meetings regardless. Many group organizers have “meetings” which are really hour-long infomercials for their businesses and the people you meet through meetup are just like the people you meet through craigslist – anyone off the street.
    People on meetup “profiles” post photos of cartoon characters or themselves from 20 years ago, they lie or don’t bother to read group descriptions – just point and click and join everything “new.” Then they lose interest after the initial shine has faded.
    I don’t think meetup is worth the work it takes to organize gatherings, not worth the fees we have to pay, and the strength of meetup is also its weakness – anyone and everyone comes. For a business, it makes more sense to save your money and put an ad in a local paper than start a meetup group, have your hour-long infomercial/workshop, pray that you can get enough patronage to make back your meetup organizer fees (since the meetup.com member can join literally hundreds of groups just like yours for free) as you have no idea how many people who RSVP will actually show up to any given event and meeting space is also tough to come by and can often cost as well. And since the attendees can join hundreds of groups for free, your particular group has no intrinsic value.
    It’s a horrible way to network or market a business.

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