Ben Silverman

Chances are you’ve received Facebook event invites for concerts, parties or public gatherings. How often do you click accept to an event invite but have no idea what it is and have no intention of going? Or if you’re bombarded with events, maybe you’re someone who automatically hits “decline” whenever you get an invite. How often do you miss events that you’re actually interested in?

While the Events function has come a long way since it was debuted on Facebook back in 2005, then called “My Parties”, the interface and functionality still confuses users and often turns people away. 450 million people use Facebook’s event service, but even Facebook admits there’s room for improvement, as it’s been in “maintenance mode” for almost its entire existence.

Facebook recently released its end-of-year update to Events, which make it easier for people to find something that interests them and is in their area. The update is designed with a specific focus on helping users meet up with friends or colleagues, and even find people with similar interests. 

What’s changed?

Many users are unsure if they can attend a business’ event, and worry that saying “No” would be harsh, “Yes” might be a lie, and “Maybe” might be misleading (or read as “No”). Facebook has eased this social struggle by rolling out a replacement for “Maybe” with “Interested,” which can be interpreted as a soft yes. Interested users can stay in the loop with updates and notifications from the event admin.

Other changes include:IMG_3927

  • Related event cards now appear after a user clicks on an event, just as related news cards materialize after clicking on a news link.  
  • Events plugin for websites, which auto-sync with the content that is in the event, and allows users browsing the website to see who is going to an event.

After the party or event ends, Facebook wants to add features to help you look back fondly on your experience. Lily Jolly, a product manager at Facebook focussing on events, said that Facebook “wanted to help bring those good feelings back more often” and implied that soon we can expect to see new features that will.

Perhaps most importantly, Facebook is tweaking its algorithm that determines if and when it will show you information about a public event that might be appealing to you. The algorithm considers your interests, previously attended events and location and weighs them against the event’s popularity, time and place.

According to Aditya Koolwal, a product manager at Facebook, “We have a good sense of how people look for things to do,” Facebook product manager Aditya Koolwal said. “The social signals we have, the friends who are interested in going, the friends you can potentially go with… so we’re going to try and take advantage of that as much as we possibly can as we roll out more discovery features.”

Take advantage of event marketing for your business

With the new features for the often overlooked Facebook Events comes new opportunity to market your business’ events, fundraisers, galas, parties and gatherings. Here’s how to make the most out of Events:

1. Keep your event updates rolling, even when all the admins have finished inviting everyone. Anyone who isn’t sure about attending (marked as interested) will receive updates. The more useful information you publish to the event, the better you are able to engage and include those who are on the fence.

2. Invite non-network friends with an email address. This isn’t a new update to events, but it is little known – You can invite friends who aren’t on Facebook just by inputting their email address. While their experience without an account is more limited, they can still RSVP and view updates.

3. Read and analyze receipts. Similarly to Messages, Events gives you the option to see who has received an invitation and seen updates from the event’s admins. Keep track to help inform you how to tweak your marketing strategies and language.location

4. Include all location and timing information, so users can take advantage of the new feature to see nearby events. The more details that you include, the more accurately Facebook will be able to catalogue your event and suggest it to interested users.

facebook_buy_tickets5. Limit the length of your event name. Push notifications have a character limit. Be sure your title is able to communicate everything it needs to in the size of one single notification.

6. Use CTAs like ticket-purchasing buttons to shorten the funnel and make it easier for viewers to become event-going customers.

The above, from Facebook’s Developer Conference’s website, features their event plugin, which embeds the event page on their website.

7. Take advantage of the event plugin for your website. The event plugin updates in real time on your website as you make changes in Facebook, and people can subscribe directly from your site. Embedding the event on your site will help to increase the social value for your web viewers, and bring in traffic that might not have been connected to you on Facebook.