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I was recently placed in charge of coordinating one of our monthly PR 3.0 events, where we raise the stakes on the weekly social media, web trends, tech and communications confab by adding special guest speakers photo courtesy of Heather Zingerand local liquor. As has become the norm, I created a Facebook event page, and encouraged my coworkers to invite anybody who might find the topics of design, communications and the creative process interesting.

1x1.trans | How inviting are Facebook event pages?

Photo by Heather Zinger

I then set about wading through my own list of roughly a googolplex worth of friends, handpicking the ones I believed would find value in our collaboration with neighbors ADX and/or free drinks courtesy of Deco Distilling. The result was that we had roughly 15 of the 130 people we invited show up.

When I consulted the event page on Facebook, I realized that we’d had 19 people respond that they were attending. Another 10 or so said that they weren’t, and about an equal number remained undecided. That left about 90 people that either never bothered to open the invitation or did open it but were sufficiently unmotivated to check even the beautifully noncommittal “Maybe” box.

Before we go any further, it’s important that I mention that the event was one of my favorites that we have ever hosted. The presentation by ADX featured gorgeous, thought-provoking visuals and the discussion was fast and furious. Even our bartender, Augustina (who it turns out handles marketing duties for Deco), got in on the action. Oh, and the drinks, which included coffee liquor mixed with Thomas Kemper Vanilla Cream soda, were stupid good.1x1.trans | How inviting are Facebook event pages?

Now, back to me being butt hurt about how few people showed up. It’s my PR 3.0, and I’ll cry if I want to.

Given that ADX’s presentation was all about the process of creating art and how mistakes play an important role in that process, I decided to share at the event (and with readers of this blog) my frustrations with the ineffectiveness of inviting people to an event via Facebook. The responses were interesting.

Kelley from ADX pointed out that so many people are constantly inundating her with Facebook event invitations that she hardly bothers to go and look at them. We then shared a laugh about a local music venue, which sends out such an absurd amount of event invitations that I long ago stopped looking at them. I’m sure this will come back to haunt me when Les Rallizes Denudes reunites for an American tour and only play this one venue in Portland. As Kurtis Blow says, these are the breaks.

Augustina then pointed out that, when studying marketing, she’d learned that 10 percent is pretty much the return that you’re going to get on invitations, so we were actually doing better than average. She also mentioned that her own experience with Deco had proved this truism. Bless her little heart.

1x1.trans | How inviting are Facebook event pages?

Les Rallizes Denudes are one of the most obscure bands in the world, which means that only a pretentious music nerd would feel the need to reference them in a blog about Facebook invitations.

As for those who wrote on our event page that they couldn’t attend – much appreciated, by the way – factors in their declining the invitation included that it was during their work hours, that they wouldn’t be in town that day and that their Star Trek transporters were broken. Not fabricating that last one.

While researching the topic, I came across the following string of posts that was quite illuminating. Perhaps whatever problem afflicted these poor people persists?

I also found this blog post with some insightful observations about reaching the audience you’re trying to via Facebook events. I like to think that I follow most of these pointers already, but I guess you can always make your invitation more of an event than it already is.

What do you think? Do you pay attention to Facebook invites? What makes them noticeable to you? Have you found other platforms for inviting people to events that have been more effective for you?

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6 Responses to How inviting are Facebook event pages?

  1. Mandy says:

    I am guilty of hardly looking at my Facebook invites. Unless the actual title interests me or it comes from a close friend, I often ignore them. I guess I'll be sorry now that I'm trying to organize something, but I remember being invited to a party from E-vite (not sure if that's the actual name) and responding because it came to an email that I use as my actual email (not one for junk). So I think if the Facebook invites looked a little different than all the other emails that come from Facebook (inbox, responses, etc.) then they might get my attention more.

  2. Jake Ten Pas says:

    So, are you saying that your FB notifications go to a junk email address, currently, Mandy? If so, why? I've customized my settings to that I no longer get emails every time somebody posts to a group I'm a part of because I found it annoying having my inbox filled up every time one of the 150 people in the group commented, but I would find it really hard to stay in touch on Facebook if it didn't notify me when new comments were posted to statuses I've commented on.
    I guess that, because I'm one who hosts events and hence invites people to them, I try to be good about checking my invites, then replying. But I really think that there ought to be a maximum number of events somebody can send out in a month. I get three invites a day from some music venues, which is ridiculous. If Facebook stated that it would only let you send out 10 invites per month, that would really cut down on a lot of this spammy crap that pollutes the experience for those of us who are genuinely trying to be selective.
    I also like your idea of FB emails looking different. Perhaps they could offer the option of customizing your event invitations and the corresponding emails you get. Thoughts?

  3. Augustina says:

    Facebook invites about events are about as effective as calling through a can attached to a wire.
    On some level I've worked in event promotions for years and I've learned that if a person isn't personally invested in the event in some way then the likelihood of getting them out is slim. Personal text messages or even personal FB messages are a better way to get people to attend. People can disregard a Facebook invite as anonymous, but when they get a personal invite from someone that they know then you create a sense of obligation that at least forces them to respond. Just sayin…. :-)

  4. Jake Ten Pas says:

    Thanks for chiming in to further explain yourself, Augustina. I can try to repurpose your remarks all I want to, but none of the style comes through.On a separate note, I've been thinking that we should rig up one of those can-and-string phone lines between AM:PM and Deco for emergency uses. Like when I just really, really need some coffee rum and cream soda, or if you have a PR emergency.

  5. Nicole Kramer says:

    I feel your frustration with Facebook event pages. I recently made a Facebook event page for a promotion I was doing for a client. I was frustrated with the low attendance reflected on the page. I agree with your findings that only 10 percent of the people invited to a Facebook event page will actually respond to the invitation. I believe that event pages have become similar to spam mail and are slowly becoming ineffective.

  6. Jake Ten Pas says:

    Any thoughts on how they might be made to be more effective, Nicole? How diligent are you about responding to the Facebook invites you receive? As Augustina points out, it's a good idea to follow up with people whose attendance you value by sending them personal messages about it. Of course, you don't want to overdo it and come off as a spammer, but giving people a personal connection by reaching out to them personally seems like a smart idea. I'm trying it out currently, and will try to let people know how it works out.

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