You’re Using Facebook Event Invites Wrong [Social Media]

Facebook Events

Facebook Event Invites : You're Doing It Wrong

This may come as a shock to some of you, but I am not a very popular guy. I don’t get invited to many social events. But every year, about two weeks before the annual Los Angeles Improv Comedy Festival, I stop responding to my Facebook Event Invites and instead just let them pile up. I usually end up with anywhere between 30 to 50 Event Invites – a healthy majority of which are for shows at the Festival.

That’s not good.

If you’re using Facebook Event Invites to promote your comedy show, you’re doing it wrong.

Using Facebook Event Invites to promote your show is very definition of Interruption Marketing – you’re interrupting your potential audience (your friends) with an unsolicited promotional message (about your show) and forcing them to make a decision (in most cases, a public decision) about whether or not to take action (to RSVP). We have another term for unsolicited promotional messages like that:


And no one likes to be spammed, right?

Birthdays and Barbecues

In my opinion, Facebook Event Invites are best for birthdays and barbecues – i.e. events where its helpful to know how many people are coming beforehand so you can be prepared. But think about it: why do you need know how many people are coming to your show beforehand? Are you serving food? Will you run out of chips and salsa?

Now, I’ll admit that Facebook Event Invites are an easy and effective way to announce your show to all of your friends. They’re so ubiquitous because they’re so easy to create and send. And they make you feel like you’re promoting your show, but in reality, you’re not. At your best, you’re still just begging your friends. At your worst, you’re pissing them off. And the latter can seriously damage your reputation, your show, and ultimately your friendship.

How Event Invites Can Actually Hurt You

Facebook Remove Event

Don't be like Gary

Here’s an example: a Facebook friend of mine (let’s call him “Gary”) is in a weekly comedy show. Same place, same time, every week. I’ve seen Gary’s show a few times. I know exactly where and when it is just in case I ever want to see it again. Yet every week, like clockwork, Gary creates and sends me (and, I assume, the rest of his friends) a Facebook Event Invite for his show.

At first, I just replied “No” to these invites. Then, I tried to ignore them altogether. But every week, I got the same invite. After a few months, I got annoyed. Finally, I clicked the little X next to the Event Invite and checked “Ignore all invites from Gary.”

This is a double fail for Gary. Since he repeatedly spammed me, not only am I never going to see his show again, but because I hid ALL of his Event Invites, I’ll also never know about any of his birthdays, barbecues, and other events that I might actually want to go to.

Don’t be like Gary. Instead, I strongly urge you to use other Facebook resources to promote your work.

A Better Way : Notes, Pages, and Groups

If it’s a one-off show, write a Note with the relevant info and post it to your profile. Notes are great because you can include more information, plus add images and formatting, links, etc. They sit passively on your News Feed and your Profile, so if someone wants to read more, they’ll click on it. It’s not spam because your audience is opting-in to receive more information.

If it’s an recurring show or group, set up a Facebook Page or Group and use your status to invite your friends (once) to like or join it. Then you can announce and promote your shows there without spamming your friends. Pages and Groups have an advantage over Notes and Event Invites because they have a wider potential audience (i.e. you don’t have to be someone’s friend to join them).

All of these methods are examples of Permission Marketing and should prove much more effective and less annoying than Event Invites.

One last thing: If I haven’t convinced you to stop using Event Invites by now and you simply must continue to use them to promote your show:
Please, for the love of God, only invite people who are in the same town as your show.
The only thing more annoying than the Unsolicited Event Invite is the Unsolicited Event Invite For a Show I Can’t Physically Be At.

What are your thoughts on Facebook Event Invites? Are they effective or annoying? Use the comments to sound off.

  • Gedaly

    I find that events are a good way to remind people who already know about the event that they should come. People who find out about the event for the first time will most likely ignore it.

  • Shaun Landry

    I personally treat an Event Invite to a show (not a gathering like a BBQ) like a note: I create it with all the grandness of a picture display and information with links and personally “Not invite anyone except the people who are going to be in the show”

    This way it still shows up in Newsfeeds and on your profile you share. You can attach it to your Facebook Fanpage for the people who have already opted in and you are not spamming your personal friends by inviting them.

    It is also nice to create these events via Group or Fan Pages. You never really have to hit “Invite People” as if you wish to invite them you can hit “Remind Your Fans” and that gives you the extra added option of sorting out the people who opted in by targeting them by the actual city your show is going to be in (Also saving your fans who live in other cities to not get a reminder on a show they cannot attend).

    An event posting could be just like a note. If you are not html savvy it saves a lot of time and grief. It’s just the “Invite Friends” portion that is indeed annoying for people who never considered to be a
    “Fan of your Improv Ensemble”

    Also as an update to all those creating Events: There is this new thing on Facebook where you can literally look to the right and there is the new “Friends Events” (Example: I can look to the right and see that Kevin McShane is attending a BBQ that I was not even invited to. This new Facebook development is a whole different ball of WTF). In theory you never have to invite any of your friends to your event. You create it, add the people who will be performing with you and not only will it show up in your newsfeed? It will nine out of ten pop up on the right hand side of your friends pages saying you are doing this.

    May I also recommend you get off Facebook and maybe send a press release to online calendar listings? Maybe draft a release to a popular blogger to get a written article or a podcast? Stop suckering yourself into thinking no one cares about your little show and take the chance of sending your information to every well read online and offline periodical in your city. You got nothing to lose sending Kevin Smith a press release on comedy. Interviews can be done on the phone for the old Skool in you…or on Skype.

    I don’t know. Old people still pick up a hard print papers. Maybe put a listing in there. Some people still listen to the radio in their cars. Public Service Announcements are Free. Call me crazy but tourists like to see things. They don’t know you exist if you don’t send something to I don’t know…your chamber of commerce or to those silly magazines you read stuck in the seats of planes or those weird online feeds you now see in cabs (and some buses in Los Angeles and train stops in San Francisco) Groupon is pretty hot. Why haven’t you called them to set up a deal for your show?

    None of these people will never see your event on Facebook because…hey…*they are not your friends* That is if you come off the money and do what some do: Buy a Facebook ad for your event and target the area you are performing with Two for Ones. You know. *Those People* The ones where you know good and well might like to see comedy, instead of the guy who is not going to be there because he is performing in the adjoining space at the same time…who also sent *you a Facebook Invite*

    But hey. That is just me. :) Nice article Kevin, as always.

    Shaun Landry
    Marketing out of Necessity since 1986.

  • Aa


    GREAT SHOW!!! I dont live in your city. Stop inviting me to shit!

    Thanks Aaron Merke and to Bob Banks for the inspiration through his Improv spam

  • MeredithM

    Another example why using PerformerTrack is so great. I like to export my contacts or use the Secondary Type to send out email invites to those in the area where I am working. So very helpful. I also export from PerformerTrack to my email list in these types of categories so when I do my pretty sends in a newsletter format I am targeting the right people. Take a look at PerformerTrack it’s saved me money and an FYI remember you don’t get technical support through Facebook and if you get booted off, and your contacts are there you are SOL.

  • Burninator3832


  • Mariecooney

    It might have been more effective to simply write your friend, wish him luck, and ask him to remove you from show postings and keep you on other Events. To use your birthday anology, one does need to know expected attendance for events, including shows, for all types of planning. Other suggestions are good options too. Some Event Invites are effective. None are really annoying. I simply delete if not interested and save if possibly interested. One is not required to respond yes, no, maybe.One of many communication tools, not a weapon of mass distruction.

  • Phareign

    I want to disagree on some levels. I enjoy getting one invite to new shows, otherwise I don’t know they are happening. Many friends just send one invite for ongoing shows. This is perfectly fine. I usually ignore invites to other cities, but they don’t really annoy me. In fact, if I am visiting it’s kind of nice if I can see a show a friend is in. These are my friends, not strangers, and I like knowing what they are doing. It’s a good way to see someone I have not seen in ten years, and if I click yes they know I am coming. For me, it is so neat to know someone in the show I am seeing.

  • Guest

    Ok how do you sort through 5000 names and group them all by city then to make contacting people in each city when you promote?

  • John Michaels

    Ok how do you sort through 5000 names and group them all by city then to make contacting people in each city easier when you promote?

    • Kevin McShane

      Make a series of Friends Lists for each city and sort your friends accordingly. Then post to that specific city’s list.

      • Steve Blexrud

        A lot of people don’t indicate where they live on their profiles, so what do you do then?

        • Kevin McShane

          Invite them to like your group’s Page. Or don’t invite them at all.

          • Steve Blexrud

            But Kevin, just because they “like” your page doesn’t mean you will then know what state or city they live in. So, how does asking them to “like” my page help me to invite only the people who live closest to my event location?

          • Kevin McShane

            You’re right. Stick to Friends Lists then. If you don’t know where someone’s from, either ask them or leave them off your list.

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