COMO SOCIAL: Meetup helps community members bond over hobbies, interests

Monday, November 18, 2013 | 12:18 p.m. CST; updated 7:28 p.m. CST, Monday, November 18, 2013

The Missourian sometimes reports on social media websites and conversations to offer a window into Columbia's online communities. For more information, see our previous stories about Reddit and how to cut down on social media clutter with lists.

What is Meetup?

Do you want to meet fellow dog owners, zombie fanatics or raw food enthusiasts? Or are you someone new to Columbia just looking to make a few new friends? If so,  check out Meetup.

Meetup is a social networking site that allows users to create groups based on various interests, hobbies and shared experiences. According to the website, the purpose of Meetup is to "revitalize local community and help people around the world self-organize."

"Meetup believes that people can change their personal world, or the whole world, by organizing themselves into groups that are powerful enough to make a difference," its website states.

Although you can spend quite a bit of time searching through groups and events, the primary goal of Meetup is to get you away from the computer screen and begin building a stronger sense of community by meeting and learning about others in person.

How do I join?

There are two ways to join Meetup: You can create an account with an email address or make a joint account with Facebook. Next, you must fill out a profile page that includes basic information, such as your name, age and location. Finally, you choose your interests. Then Meetup provides a list of suggested groups you could join.

How do I join a group?

Each group has a different set of rules. Some groups allow you to join immediately, and others require additional information and membership dues.

Each group page lists the number of members, who may go by other names, such as "adventurers," "funsters," or "zombie shooters."

You'll also be able to view past and upcoming events, group photos, discussion topics and other groups that members belong to.

What now?

Once you join a group, you'll receive email notifications about upcoming events and new messages from fellow members. But there's no commitment implied — you can join groups just to keep an eye on what they're up to.

If you want to attend an event, RSVP on the group's page. Although most events are free, you may have to chip in for events that are large and/or have an upfront cost. There is no penalty if you miss an event you RSVP'ed to, and you may leave a group at any time.

If you join a group and want to have a higher level of involvement, there are opportunities to become a co-organizer, assistant organizer or event coordinator.

How do I create a Meetup group?

Although joining Meetup is free, there is a fee to create a group, and there are community rules that govern the allowable types of groups.

What are some of Columbia's most active groups?

Interested in learning more about Meetup? Check out its help page here.

Do you use Meetup? What tips or links do you have to share? Comment below, or email supervising editor Joy Mayer.

Like what you see here? Become a member.

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