Extroverts Rejoice! Now Facebook Finds You Parties
Extroverts Rejoice! Now Facebook Finds You Parties.
Now it will. Facebook events are one of the more maligned parts of the nearly ubiquitous social media platform — invitations to them come often, sometimes seemingly out of nowhere, and they have a tendency to bombard users with notifications.More and more people on Facebook are joining and creating events from their mobile phones, and this updated search feature will help them easily browse and filter for specific events at any given time.
Facebook iOS users and brands are set to benefit from the company’s latest set of updates, with the addition of an improved Events section on the app as well as the announcement that verified brands can now share live video.Today, the company announced an update to its iOS app that gives people in 10 major US cities the ability to browse through Facebook Events in their location. Within the new discovery feature, in the Events dashboard, people will see events sorted by categories such as music, food & drink, nightlife and sports or fitness. While Facebook has let you search for nearby events in the past, the app now presents them in a much cleaner manner, and also affords more granular control. Instead of an uninspired list of events that you probably have no desire attending, you’re met with a nice interface that lets you take on a sort of choose your own adventure role to mapping out your evenings or weekends.
First, rather than suggesting Events on random dates, you can now specify if you’re looking for something to do today, tomorrow, this weekend, or next week. Facebook also mentioned that Star Wars: The Force Awakens was the subject of some 35,000 Facebook events with more than 2 million invitees, with about one-third of those events boasting users that were planning to attend from at least 50 miles away. The catch is that the feature currently can only be seen by people using their iPhones in major cities — New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, Dallas, Seattle, Miami, Houston and Washington, DC.
Sections include: music, food and drinks, nightlife, sports and fitness, fine arts and crafts, community, film and photography, performing arts and causes. In addition, there’s a new “Suggested for You” section that algorithmically plans your dream night — or at least a pub crawl with dozens of drunk locals — based on the data Facebook has about you. Events are something of a sleeping giant for the company; in July it announced that the service is used by 450 million people monthly, but Facebook staffers have acknowledged it needs a lot of work. If you’ve got for a feeling for what you’re up for, whether it’s a concert, pub crawl, gallery opening, or wine & cheese, Facebook can recommend where to go. Facebook isn’t necessarily doing that here, and there’s no way to search for events on a map, but its massive user base and popularity on mobile — regardless of how many apps it releases — will give the company a huge advantage should it decide to take an even bigger bite out of the events business.
Some of those efforts have started to come into focus, including more public events being shown in people’s News Feeds, smarter notifications and surfacing of related events. With so much data about what people do and like, building a stronger Events product is a natural step. “We have a good sense of how people look for things to do,” Facebook product manager Aditya Koolwal told Wired last month. “The social signals we have, the friends who are interested in going, the friends you can potentially go with — that’s our bread and butter, so we’re going to try and take advantage of that as much as we possibly can as we roll out more discovery features.” Really, it’s starting to feel like Events could be its own app: browsing, invited, bookmarking, RSVPing, scheduling, calendaring, buying and using tickets, checking in. Songkick’s comprehensive concert calendar, alerts, and its willingness to show gigs it doesn’t sell tickets for makes it the prime place to find music.
But Facebook is the only company with near total knowledge of what’s going on and limited financial interest in steering you to one event over another. Paper and Moments were standalone apps that could have easily just been woven into the Facebook fabric, but instead the company pushed those services into their own apps, a strategy that it seemed like Facebook would continue using. Except that it hasn’t: The social network recently launched live videos for all users, formerly the main feature of its standalone Mentions app, and killed Creative Labs, home for app experimentation, along with Slingshot, Riff, and Rooms.
Here are a few ways it’s recently revamped Events, which had a staggering 450 million active users as of July: Why does Facebook care about upgrading Events? At the same time as shuttering all this, Facebook launched the Notify app, and its Groups app is soldiering on. “For Facebook to want to build a standalone app, it typically either wants to stifle potential competitors or test new ways of interacting with users,” says Digital Clarity Group analyst Alan Pelz-Sharpe. Basically, he says, Facebook doesn’t even have to do something well, it can launch an app and based on its name recognition, kill the competition, grab a new audience’s attention, and gather data for itself.
Later, the company can do whatever it wants with that app—kill it or keep it—and still have all that new user data it can fold into its massive social platform. “A good example [is] getting teens engaged again with Facebook, and it’s doing this successfully via Instagram,” says Pelz-Sharpe. “Over time, those users will hopefully be reintroduced back into the core Facebook family.” Events is also doing fine all on its own, and lately the usability has gotten significantly better. Right now, the mobile Events tab lets you toggle between upcoming events, invitations, events you’ve bookmarked, those you’re hosting, and those you’ve already gone to. One thing Facebook could improve would be understanding the difference between low and high quality events by comparing the invite count to how many people RSVP’d. Right now it’s showing me tons of smarmy, generic club nights where professional promoters spam all their friends with invites but few people actually want to go.
If Facebook plays these little mobile Event cards right, it could lock more users into its platform where it shows ads, become the best place to host the content people generate at Events, and even make money directly through sponsored Event suggestions.
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