As I’ve been approaching conference organizers to try Event Connector, I’ve been surprised at how few have Facebook events. It seems like a no-brainer to me if your audience includes anyone under thirty, since it only takes a couple of minutes to create an event. In return, you get a great platform for potential guests to discover your conference, and attendees to hear from you and each other before and after the event. You’re being given permission to market to them, and even better, the participants themselves will spread the word as their attendance shows up on their friends’ feeds, and they get involved on the discussions on the event page itself.
Most of the events I have run across have been unofficial, started by participants rather than organizers. Without publicity from the promoters, these tend to attract only a few guests. To be effective you need to include a link to the event in some material that goes out to a decent number of your guests.
I don’t think it’s that conference organizers don’t want the benefits that facebook events offer, since I see a lot of organizations trying to hand-roll similar services. PodCamp Boston has a page listing all of the attendees who wanted their names to be public, but as a plain text alphabetical list, it’s a lot harder to discover friends than the equivalent on facebook. Facebook events are popular with guests, the New Media Expo 2008 one picked up over a hundred guests in the first few hours after it was created, and this is for an event almost a year away!
Trying to put myself in their shoes, I’d guess that the main obstacles are the fact that no one else is doing it, it’s an unknown quantity, it feels a bit out of their control, and they’ve never needed it before. It does require a willingness to try something new, but the reward for doing so before it’s mainstream is that you’ll get a lot of buzz, publicity and guest goodwill for taking that leap!
If you’re an event promoter, I’d highly recommend you set up a Facebook event, and give it a little promotion. It’s quick, free, and offers both you and your guests significant benefits.
Even better, once you’ve got one set up, you get an Event Connector for free. Go to the main page of the app, and your event will show up at the top. There’s a link you can mail out, and free blogger, typepad and facebook profile badges you can distribute. It adds value to the plain facebook events by allowing users to see which of their friends, and friends-of-friends, are going, which supplies the social proof that will persuade them to sign up.
Funhouse Photo User Count: 1,729 total, 63 active. The same steady growth, and looking at the breakdown, I see the same pattern of non-viral acquisition of users, mostly through the directory and searches.
Event Connector User Count: 72 total, 8 active. Still very quiet, with no conference signed up, and a trickle of users from the directory.