By Rick Ortiz, Apple User Group Advisory Board Chair

Apple User Groups are a place for individuals with similar technology interests to meet and network with each other and make connections. Typically user groups meet in person on a monthly basis at a designated location to discuss topics related to Apple products. User groups were the first stage of social media. What social media has done, is take the in-person networking of people and bring it online into the internet digital world, allowing for a broader connection for individuals and groups.

If user groups served as the foundation for what social media has become, then it is important for user groups to continue to evolve and allow their network of members to make connections online as well. There are a number of social media resources available to user groups. We will take a look at some of the more popular online social media resources, such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. We will discuss what each one offers and how it can benefit your group.

Most people associate Facebook with a friend’s connection network. But Facebook also offers some resources for businesses, organizations and groups. Facebook is a great way to allow your members to stay in touch with what is going on with your group, as well as a way to communicate and stay in touch with each other. Facebook offers two options for user groups. You can either set up a Facebook business/organization page or you can set up a Facebook group. Both require you have an individual Facebook account to create these.

Business/Organization page – The benefits of an business or organization page is it allows your user group to be seen by Facebook users as well as the rest of the world. It is a public page where you can post meeting dates and times, topics and any other related information regarding your group. You can even post articles or newsworthy information that comes up between meetings. Facebook has a great page to get you started.

Facebook Groups – A group page is a bit different. It can either be a public group or a private group. This will allow you to control what others may or may not see. This is similar to online discussion forums. Groups make it easy for members to connect, share, and send messages to the group as a whole. To create a group follow this link: How do I create a group?

Want more information or not sure which is best for you? Facebook has more information here: How are Pages different from groups? Which one should I create?

Twitter is well known and has provided an online digital voice for celebrities, major businesses, to individuals, allowing them to be put in touch with the world. Faster than email, it is an instant resource to share information online. Even Apple support has a Twitter account to share resources. So why have a Twitter account for your user group? Often times during a meeting, a weblink or other online resources are presented. This would be a great way to share with your group instantly. Want to remind members about a meeting? Post it to your group’s Twitter account. To get your group’s Twitter account head on over to their business page to set up an account

When you think of YouTube, you think of a place to watch online videos. You wouldn’t think of YouTube as a social media platform. But YouTube does bring people together and connections are made through the videos posted there. Individuals can post comments and subscribe to a YouTube channel. So how can your group use YouTube as a social media platform? There are two ways. First, some groups record their meetings or screencast their meeting topics. YouTube allows you to post these videos so you can share them with your group members. If your group is concerned about privacy, videos can be set to be private and not posted publicly. The second way you can use YouTube to benefit your group is to find how-to videos as well as vendor product and training videos. These are great to show at meetings or share the links with your group members. If using vendor videos from YouTube, it allows groups to connect and share information about a vendor in ways not available before. In fact many of our Featured Vendors spotlighted on our website have provided YouTube links to assist user groups in demonstrating their products. Your group can: Get started in creating a YouTube account.

This how-to article was a brief introduction for user groups to get started in social media. The Apple User Group Resource website provides a number of how-to articles to help groups grow, generate ideas and solve problems. If you have comments, questions or would like to share your group’s story related to this article or any past articles, please email us at