I have a confession to make: I stopped checking Facebook Event Invites late last year. It started feeling eerily like MySpace at its worst (and look where MySpace is now). I have an average of 80+ invites at any one time, and what made it even worse was the constant messages that were sent to everyone invited to the event, whether they had confirmed or not. So not only did I stop checking event invites, my Facebook inbox became such a mess that I stopped checking that too.
That is until Facebook changed the way their messaging system worked. Your Facebook inbox is now an integration of SMS, chat, email or messages. But one of the biggest changes for bands is that now any messages sent through Event Invites no longer wind up in someone’s regular inbox, they now end up in the “Other” inbox. That’s right, the “Other” inbox where message updates from Facebook Fan Pages go.
The “Other” Inbox
How many people actually know that this secondary “Other” inbox exists? How many people know it exists and proactively check it to get those updates? I’m willing to bet, not very many. I actually knew it existed, but had totally forgotten about it, and now have 20 pages worth of unread messages from Facebook Pages. It’s like a junk mail folder that I never open. And now all of those messages from events I’m not attending are going to that inbox too, which is great news for me (and I might actually start using my Facebook inbox again), but it’s not very good news for people organizing events, specifically bands.
What’s the solution?
So what’s the solution? What should bands do now? Keep sending messages through event invites even though they are going to the “Other” inbox? While you can keep doing this if you want, here are a few other things you can spend time on that might give you better results and more attendance at your shows:
1. Stop blindly inviting everyone to shows
I live in Montreal, but I can’t tell you how often I get invites for events that are happening in Toronto, New York, Boston, etc. Is there a chance I will be in that city for the show? Yes, in theory, but it’s really not worth the risk of being blacklisted. Blacklisted? Yes, you can actually ignore all invites from certain people if you want to. I do it all the time, and being invited to shows that are not happening in my home city is often the reason (especially getting invites to shows in each city of a band’s national tour).
And if I do happen to be in that city for the show, I’ll find out when the person updates their fan page, sends out a message through their mailing list or tweets about it. But blindly inviting everyone in your Friend’s list is just not the way to go.
2. Be active on your Fan Page
Be sure to post regular updates about your show on your Fan Page. Event details, updates about the line-up, links to blog posts & video blogs on your website previewing the show, pics from band rehearsals, etc. And why not use Facebook Questions to build your set list? Each day ask fans to choose their favorite songs and build your set list from those songs.
And if there are opening bands, talk about them too! You can post info about the bands, their music, pics, videos, etc. If you regularly post creative updates leading up to the show, it will no doubt help create buzz/excitement about the event.
3. Send personal messages to people that you invite to events
So the messages you send through the Event Invite itself are now going to the mysterious “Other” inbox? Well, why not take the time to send each person who you’ve invited a personal message inviting them? And I don’t mean copying and pasting the same message to each person. Yes, you can and should use some of the same elements, but take an extra few minutes and personalize the message to the individual. You can reference a recent conversation with them, tell them what’s going to be special/unique/fun about that night, basically, tell them why they should come out that night.
Don’t be discouraged
This post is certainly not meant to be discouraging, but more of a reality check for promoting shows on Facebook. I sat in many empty rooms during my 3 years as a venue booker in Montreal, and often the band’s idea of promoting the show was creating a Facebook Invite and sending out 1 message to everyone who they invited. It’s just not enough anymore, and this goes for any event where the audience is not built-in. The message here is that we all have to go the extra mile to get people to our events, and the more creative, the better.
In what creative ways has your band promoted your live shows on Facebook?