Social networks that combine on- and offline interaction are increasing in popularity in Spain. The site MeetUp.com has seen explosive growth over the last 18 months. A statistic the company said via email that they don’t measure, but I can tell you from personal experience that business is booming in Spain. Worldwide, MeetUp.com boasts 7.2 million members in 79,000 local groups who RSVP 2.2 million times per month (About MeetUp.com).
I first joined MeetUp.com in Washington, DC in 2006 and found it a great way to get involved in volunteer activities that I couldn’t find elsewhere (I was a member of the Fight Human Trafficking group). When I moved to Barcelona in 2007, I had hoped to use MeetUp as a way to find people with similar interests. Instead, I found a site with literally three MeetUp Groups in Barcelona. I left the site after entering my interests and didn’t hear a peep for a year.
In late 2008 I went back to MeetUp.com and found that in Barcelona there were about six groups focused on English/Spanish language exchanges and generally “meeting up” for drinks or movies.
In late 2009 is when it started to take off. I found my book club in August 2009 and shortly thereafter took over as organizer. By that time there were a good 15-20 groups, focused mostly on language exchanges and going out.
Today, MeetUp.com hosts 199 groups in Barcelona. Many are still focused on going out, but there are a lot of interesting hobby groups available as well, such as book clubs, cooking clubs, hiking, biking, surfing, yoga, meditation, foodies, etc. In my book club alone there are 187 members (of which 30% or so actively participate).
Lately Bookcrossing seems to have grown a bit of a fan base in Barcelona. They hold monthly meetings in Gracia, inviting people to come, share a book and enjoy a free drink.
I wish that MeetUp.com would share its statistics with the public, so I can see this growth trend in numbers.