Getting Started Guide for Sitecore User Groups
Experienced host/organizers of various Sitecore User Groups sharing their experiences and guidelines which can help people who are interested in starting a new Sitecore User Group.
Michael Ian Reynolds:
- Create group on meetup.com.
- Find a location sponsor for the meetup session (this needs to be done for every meetup session).
a. Set up a meeting to view the space.
i. Determine if the space is large enough to hold up to 30+ people (of course this may vary by region).
b. Enquire about parking.
c. Ask whether the venue's doors lock after business hours (I was once locked out of a user group after stepping out for a cigarette).
d. Ensure a projector/screen or a large television are available with the capability of hooking up to a laptop for presentations.
e. Ask if microphones are available (if not, you might have to purchase these).
- Find food and beverages (soft drinks and beer) sponsor(s) (this needs to be done for every meetup session).
a. Could have one sponsor for both, or individual sponsors for each.
- Find speaker(s) for the meetup session (this needs to be done for every meetup session).
- Decide on whether the meetup should be streamed via a Google Hangout (this needs to be determined for each meetup session, and is decided on a case-to-case basis).
a. Would need a video camera for this.
- Continuously promote sessions on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, the Sitecore Community Slack and Google Plus (not sure if anyone even uses this anymore but it wouldn't hurt), reddit, etc.
a. It's best to start doing this at least 2 weeks before the session but ideally 1 month before.
You should also think about how often a meetup should be held that will vary by location/number of Sitecore devs/people in the area
You could start off meeting every three months but increase it to monthly if the demand increases or have available speakers
It’s also a good idea to reach out to your local regional Sitecore office to see how they can help out.
We started in 2012 talking with Sitecore NL, that we wanted to start one, to see if they wanted to be involved or not, and show them our plans. Marc and I then selected 3 other persons who could help us with organizing meetings. 3 Devs and 2 marketers. We then agreed upon that each role would be responsible for a role track (dev and marketing track), we aimed for having both dev tracks and marketing/business tracks at one night.
We saw however, that dev's are used by nature to visit UG's, and marketers do not (they only go to those fancy marketing events ;-)). we contacted Sitecore partners if they were willing to host an evening and take care of the catering and facilitating the location. The support was overwhelming. We're currently already full for 2017. We have meetings every 6 weeks, where we plan around SUGCON Europe and Symposium.
Sitecore NL said that they would support in speakers sometimes, but that it should be a community driven UG, which it totally is. We use Eventbrite as a system ( @sitecorejunkie so it shouldn't be just MEETUP), we created our own website, we use Trello for our task board and use Slack (SUGNL slack channel) to communicate with the speakers and partners.
Checkout our upcoming agenda: http://www.sugnl.net/agenda.aspx
Remember to add your group to the Sitecore User Group index maintained by Hedgehog Software: http://www.sitecoreug.org/
Know your audience! Events should be for the benefit of the community. Remember that attendees of these sessions will come from a variety of backgrounds: Some are developers, some are content authors and editors, some have a business or marketing focus.
You should try to find topics that will engage all of these members of the community. Also remember that participants will have different levels of experience with Sitecore. Some will have years' worth of knowledge, others may be hearing about Sitecore or CMS platforms for the first time.
Some may have been involved with dozens of Sitecore implementations, others might only know one particular implementation. Including these different viewpoints and perspectives will make your Sitecore User Group more engaging and will prompt some interesting discussions.
We decided to create groups on: Meetup.com (meetup.com/Sitecore-Poland-Meetup/), Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/groups/SitecorePL), Twitter (https://twitter.com/SitecorePL). These are our main channels. Every time when we organize meeting we create new event on Meetup and Facebook and then try to inform other people about that fact additionally on Twitter. On each channel we write about incoming event but also we add information about other available channels. It usually looks like following message:
In our opinion it is important to share traffic between all available channels.
For ticketing purposes we use eventbrite.com (https://www.eventbrite.com/e/sitecore-community-poland-3rd-edition-tickets-28326120188) We have decided to use free tickets to have more data about our attendees - after registration we have information about their companies and emails.
Because it might be hard to measure traffic/users attention we very often use bit.ly to shorten links and have all stats in one place.
We strongly believe that knowledge should be shared also later after the meetup, so we record our speakers and then publish videos on our YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCE_TAYMJ8fImSAMf4Mqposg)
For recording we use following tools:
- Open Broadcaster Software
- Zoom h1
- Live Gamer Portable Lite HDMI
- Additional HD web cam
In Poland it’s not easy to find sponsors but I would suggest to ask your boss to sponsor the event - if will not agree on that just ask all companies from your country which work with Sitecore. Do not forget about Sitecore representants they very often can help with some gifts or just with find the right person to contact.
It is good to think about levels of sponsorship - because many companies asking for that.
First of all, ask your friends - if they are not interested, ask other companies - if they are not interested, ask for volunteers on your channels - if no one came to you, try to ask MVPs on Twitter/Slack and prepare some money for covering the travel costs
We try to care for our attendees as much as it is possible. So we:
- Try to organize events on evenings
- Prepare some food (pizza) and some drinks, because they usually join to meeting after the work
- Give them some ID’s to let them easier start talk with other attendees