Picture this. You want to host an event for 12-15 of your closest friends. You organize the event a month in advance since you know everyone’s calendars book up quickly, and set up a Facebook event to get the word out. When the invite friends picker pops up, you realize you don’t want anyone to feel left out, so you end up inviting around 40 people. The day of your event rolls around, and you’re excited! But then five people show up.
Facebook events are great for brands and authors to generate buzz via a Facebook page, and invite fans to events like a store opening, networking event, book signing, or any other event for which you want to generate buzz. I’m a big advocate of this marketing strategy since you’re targeting fans where they go every day — often 10+ times a day — I even sell an ebook on how to create Facebook pages.
But on a personal level, Facebook events kinda sucks. Here’s why you should never use Facebook to organize your personal social events.
1. Your event might be ignored
People set up Facebook events for all sorts of reasons:
- They want to host a friendly gathering (legit reason, yay!)
- The want to promote a work-related event
- They want to pimp out the next event they’re DJing, performing at, etc. and they invite every Facebook friend they have
- They’re promoting something that’s not even an event — the “event” is simply filling out a form or taking a survey
So when you set up your event for a legit social gathering, your event will be swallowed up by the noise of the other events.
2. Your closest friends might not see the invite
Because so many people abuse the events feature, your closest friends might have unsubscribed from getting event notifications via email.
And within Facebook, forget about it. HEY LOOK, someone’s commented on something you liked. HEY LOOK, someone’s tagged you in a photo. HEY LOOK, your friend liked your shared link. HEY LOOK, someone posted to a group you’re in. With Facebook notifying your friends about things 20 times a day, they could possibly miss your invite and make other plans for that day before the event reminder goes out (and even that they might miss).
And that means that the people you most wanted to come to your event won’t show. How sad.
3. You will probably over-invite
Facebook makes it way too easy to invite people to your gatherings, and you can easily invite fifty people to a party for which you meant to invite twenty people. And people are more likely to flake out if they think you just invited everyone you know, and they don’t feel special for receiving an invite from you.
4. Forget about having an accurate headcount
People are universally terrible about RSVPing to a Facebook event. They might RSVP yes in an initial rush of enthusiasm, and it’s so easy to click “yes.” But oops, they forgot to check their calendar, and OOPS they already have a prior commitment tonight and totally forgot, sorry!
On the flip side, people might not RSVP to the event but add it to their calendar, and they show up despite not having RSVP’d. OOPS, looks like there aren’t enough drinks to go around!
Then you also have the people who RSVP “Maybe” to everything and don’t update their response one way or another. So… forget about ever having an accurate headcount if you use Facebook events.
5. Your event might not be taken seriously
For all of the above reasons, people are more likely to flake out on an event organized solely via Facebook. You’ll get people who just plain ignore the invite, or worse, people who accept the invite and think they don’t really have to commit like they would a formal invitation, so they flake out at the last minute.
How do you make your event that “something better” that comes up?
Put in more effort. This means calling, texting, or emailing the people you want to invite, chatting about how much fun your event is going to be, and getting a verbal RSVP. If people tell you they’re coming to your event to your face or over the phone, they’re much more likely to show up than if they clicked a little “yes” button on Facebook. If you want to send digital reminders, use a service like Evite where you can send email communications people likely haven’t already opted out from. And if you still do want to use a Facebook invitation, it should only be as a supplemental reminder to people, not your primary form of invitation.