Why event features are becoming social media spam

Posted on May 3rd 2010

When I first got really involved with social media, I used the event features on Linkedin and Facebook. I would create an event and then invite people to the event. Occasionally I'd get RSVPs, on Linkedin or Facebook, but no one would actually RSVP on my website, and when I contacted people there was no follow through. I suspect they mainly indicated they'd go to the event to show support. I also received occasional messages where people asked me not to put them on my list of invitations, because they said they felt they were getting spammed. And, when I considered that, I also realized that every time I got an event invitation, I also felt that I was being spammed.

The problem with inviting people to events is that when you use the invite feature for events, you are violating the number one social norm of social media: Social media is opt-in, not opt-out. By using the invite feature for events, you force people to opt-out, instead of choosing to opt-in. Consequently event invites end up becoming advertisements, which most people prefer to avoid, because they don't feel engaged.

I no longer use the invite feature. I still put events onto Linkedin and Facebook, but now treat it as more of a passive page. In fact, I've found better results by handing out flyers at events I speak at or sending an email to my e-newsletter list, because in both of those cases, people have opted in and as such my announcement of upcoming workshops isn't something they are receiving that they haven't agreed to. I  also post status updates with a link to workshops, particularly on my fan-page, which helps when it comes to promoting events, but I've found that not using the invite feature has actually been a better choice than using it.

What do you think?  Do you find invitations to events to be spam or useful?

 

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TaylorEllwood

Taylor Ellwood

Taylor Ellwood is the author of Understanding the Social in Social Media, and a business and social media coach. He develop social media business plans and policies for businesses, while continuing to study social behavior on social media.
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Comments

I agree with you 100%. The most annoying thing about Facebook for me are the endless event invitations and promotional messages in my inbox. If I'm interested in an event, I'll remember - don't keep spamming me a million times a day! I would definitely take more notice of an event that I came across 'passively' and didn't force me to RSVP all the time or force their attention into my brain like an annoying headache that doesn't go away :-/ Like Adam says, I don't even bother reading FB event notifications or messages anymore. 

And LinkedIn and FB RSVP's are definitely not credible indications of attendance; most event organizers I know in SL go around asking their friends to confirm attendance just so the event will look like its 'happening' with tons of people attending it. Makes you wonder if there is a credible, slightly more aggressive way of reaching out to your target audience with event invitations on social media AT ALL isn't it? My problem with FB fan pages is that unless I check it constantly, I have no indication of what new content, events or other updates have been added. An RSS feed to a FB fan page would be real nice - I can choose what I want to check out or not, and it isn't constantly in my face when I log into the site.


I have similar problems with Facebook in terms of having to check the fan page. It's a case where they haven't really thought the design problems they've built into the fan page - personal profile connection.