Using Facebook to Promote Events

November 18, 2009

We’ve been trying to leverage social networking sites to promote our various training opportunities, and are struggling to find the right way to utilize Facebook.

Facebook has a built-in event feature. The problem is that the event management is assumed to live on Facebook. TSNE hosts registration for most trainings on our own website (sometimes partner organizations host, as in last month’s Email Fundraising Bootcamp with Idealware), because we have a maximum capacity and some events cost money.

The challenge we’re running into is how to use Facebook to drive people to register on the TSNE site. For example, last year several people had been invited to a conference via Facebook, and just clicked the RSVP button on the Facebook event page without actually visiting the TSNE/NonProfit Center website. The conference charged a small fee. So none of these people were actually registered or had paid for the conference (because they didn’t realize they needed to), but thought they were registered — and the conference sold out through regular registration, so we had to juggle to make room for these people.

There are events where an exact count doesn’t matter – June’s NonProfit Center Ice Cream Social, for instance. We needed a rough headcount so that we could provide enough ice cream, but there wasn’t a hard limit in terms of capacity like there is in a conference room for a training. So some people RSVPed via email, and some via Facebook, and we had an idea of how many people to expect. The viral aspect of Facebook worked wonderfully, and everyone had a great time.

But looking forward to this next year’s trainings, we’re trying to brainstorm the best way to use Facebook for events that require pre-registration on the TSNE website. While a “group” (TSNE Events) can create an event but block the ability to RSVP on the event, that setting also prevents people from inviting others to the event – so the entire point of networking is lost.

We are currently experimenting with creating a group specific to each event, but are afraid that this method will quickly become tedious and inefficient. I personally receive a dozen group invites per week, and rarely pay much attention to them.

What methods have you used on Facebook to promote an event with registration that is hosted elsewhere? What worked? What didn’t?

3 Responses to “Using Facebook to Promote Events”

  1. I would recommend just not using the “events” feature. Instead, use your group and/or your profile to announce the event and provide the link to the registration page on your site. Your followers on Facebook can then add comments (which their friends will see), post the link for the event themselves, etc.

  2. Rachel M Says:

    I agree with Maxim that posting a link in the feed is the way to go, but the problem becomes permanence (unless you add an announcement every now and then which could be annoying). It’s a shame because there are so many things that are great about the FB events tool. If your systems aren’t too complicated, it may be worth looking into something like EventBrite which does a better job of integrating ticket sales with event payments. and

  3. exelemiling Says:

    Phat post, great looking website, added it to my favorites.

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