Analytic Stories are a uniquely useful tool for examining products and services. Such stories explore potential customer situations and illustrate expected benefits. In the process, they clarify, deepen and validate, providing insight and understanding.
Consider Meetup, an online social network that facilitates participating in shared interest groups and organizing activities. Meetup allows members to find and join groups and attend events, unified by a common interest, such as politics, books, games, movies, health, pets, careers or hobbies.
Let’s look at several stories about people using Meetup for different reasons, and how Meetup helps them in different ways.
Fiona is an American, new to Amsterdam. She moved to begon a PhD program in Social Anthropology. Fiona doesn’t know the city and would like to explore her new environs and culture.
Fiona had used Meetup back in the States for a philosophy group and hiking club. Checking Meetup in Amsterdam, Fiona finds a few groups that seem perfect for learning the city and connecting with people – a cultural activities group, a cycling excursions group, and expats meet at bars group. Fiona tries to attend something once a week, time and workload permitting. Her first few months in Amsterdam yield a new social network that extends beyond her school and a budding appreciation of the Netherlands and its culture.
Group activities can be a nice way for individuals to explore a new city beyond the tourist level.
Group activities are a nice way to meet new people, especially if you are new to a community and don’t know many people.
Flexible activity groups allow people to join when they are able.
Jake likes to play volleyball. Played since he was young and in college. Now Jake is busy with career and family, but still likes to play when he can. Has a few friends who play as well, but hard to organize everyone’s schedules to find a time to play and have a group big enough to play. Whenever Jake tries to organize a game, he eventually gets frustrated at the time and effort he puts in, and maybe it doesn’t happen in the end.
Jake found a volleyball group on Meetup, people playing at his level. Meet regularly at different times during the week. Nice to be able to join when Jake has time and is in the mood without having to do any organizing himself. Just rsvp, show up and participate. Each week Jake checks the meetup schedule, and chooses a time to join. Later in the week, he cancels if he can’t make it, but tries to go at least once a week.
Jake informs his buddies about the meetups as well, and they join when they can.
Over time, Jake enjoys seeing his old friends and develops some new volleyball friends. He doesn’t necessarily love everyone he meets. The tone is a bit different, with the meetup being more public instead of just old friends. Jake and his friends decide to still occasionally have more intimate private game days to balance with the meetups.
An ongoing meetup, once setup, require very little oversight and management. People just signup and come. Not a lot of planning required to participate.
Meetups are more public than gatherings of intimate friends. People enjoy both. [Could Meetup have an private invitation based event type as well?]
Sandra has always had diverse interests. In the past, she has gone to salsa lessons, studied French in a weekly class, and participated in a hiking group and a book club. Now she wants to try something different for her next activity adventure. How to find it?
Sandra discovered Meetup and is excited about all the possible activities she could join. She loves the diversity of offerings. She saw things like a knitting group, beach valley ball and lunch break concerts. She joins all three to give them a try, thinking she will choose one to stick with, or maybe two!
Having a central catalog of activities helps Sandra to discover possible activities to join. To see what is out in the world. It gives her ideas for what to do and what is available.
Flexible to be able to try new activities without commitment or subscriptions. Less risk. Can continue if interested.
Simon follows a typically modern work-life routine – at the job with colleagues most of the week, then family or friends in the evenings and weekends. Simon appreciates the current people in his life, but also would enjoy meeting people who might in time become friends, especially people from different walks of life with different backgrounds and experiences.
Many of Simon’s colleagues belong to meetup groups. Simon checks it out online and is impressed by the extensive selection. So many people doing so many things. Simon starts attending a few meetups. At the weekly Board Games meetup, Simon enjoys seeing many of the same faces each time, joking around and becoming friends with all kinds of people, different ages, different cultures and backgrounds. Similarly, Simon also joined the Amnesty International group, who gets together write letters, watch documentaries and discuss current issues.
Joining organized activities is light weight, low risk way to meet and get to know diverse people.
Vanka is a young professional working as a product owner in Seattle at a small company Zusio that is now gaining success. Vanka wants to build her network of professional people and participate in the wider tech community. She goes to conferences, attends symposia, participates in workshops and joins interest groups all related to her profession. But Vanka misses out on more general networking happening in the Seattle professional community. Vanka and her colleagues at Zusio maintain a shared calendar of happenings they hear about, but they often forget to update it.
Vanka recently discovered Meetup, and saw numerous meetup groups that would compliment her other networking activities. Many events and groups on Meetup are popular with professionals. Vanka is excited to have so many diverse possibilities all gathered and listed in one place. She joins a product owner meetup with monthly speakers called “Product Camp”, a more casual but exploratory startups “Hack-a-found”, and purely social group “Friday Professional Drinks”.
Professionals seek various ways to network with other professionals.
Having a centralized diverse list of groups and events is convenient to easily select ones serving a particular goal, such as networking.
Vivien prefers an active, stimulating life. Likes to explore, participate and be social. Works in a co-working community, collaborates on art/tech/social projects. In free time, Vivien plays sports and enjoys going out in nature. Attends political or cultural events, alone or with friends. Likes to read fiction and non-fiction.
Vivien’s attendance depends on time and energy, and she appreciates the flexibility of meetups. Sometimes she does a lot in a week, other times she is busy with other things. Some meetups she attends regularly, like tech. Some she goes only now and then like movies or dancing.
Vivien meets interesting new people she would not normally have met. Different people that share her diverse interests.
Vivien sometimes invites friends to join. Her friend Marta loves movies, Phillip is always up for a philosophical discussion, and Anna goes hiking any chance she gets.
Meetup adds to activities Vivien can participate in. Introduces her to new people based on interest, not on existing social connections. Makes it easy to organize groups without a lot of coordinating. Flexible to attend when you can.
Natural to invite individual friends with shared interests to join for particular meetups. Friends may in turn find other meetups they would attend themselves.