Sunday, August 22, 2010

How to Reach Facebook Fans in a World of On-line Noise

Back in the day, I could send out a Facebook invite for an upcoming performance and a couple of things would happen: 1) About 90% of those I invited would rsvp (either yes, no, or maybe) and 2) About 40% of those invitees would actually show up at my event. It was my most effective marketing tool.

When Facebook decided to turn on its money making machine about a year ago, the typical invite got lost in the shuffle.  Now,  I'm lucky if I get a 20% RSVP rate and for a 100 seat theatre, I'm lucky to sell 3 tickets from Facebook invites.

I understand the problem. Having nearly 1,800 friends on Facebook myself, not only do I get a lot of invites each day (about 15-20) but I also get a lot of other stimulation on my Facebook page that ends up looking and sounding a lot like on-line noise. There's just too much stimulation on my page for me to pay attention to something as specific as an invitation.

Although I've always tried to be personal with my marketing efforts, I have to be even more diligent now to make sure that my own invitations can be seen and heard through the haze of saturation. To be honest, I have ADD when it comes to Facebook and if you're planning an event, you should assume every friend you're sending an invitation to has ADFBD (Attention Deficit Facebook Disorder) too.

Here are 10 ways to make sure your invite gets over the firewall:

1) Use a title that describes the event itself or the location. For example "Illumination: Four Tellers Telling in Maryland" is better than just "Illumination." There is a balance between including interesting, length and location in your title.

2) Within the body of your invite, place just enough information to spark someone’s interest. In other words, don't cut and paste something from your website into your invitation. I don’t want to read through every review that’s ever been written about you.

3) Attach event-related photos, videos and other links on the actual invite page. Sounds obvious, but don't make me search to find out more information about the event. Also, use captions with every photo.

4) Put a “click-thru” link on the invite that will take invitees to a place where they can purchase tickets.

5) Invite all your friends, even the ones that live in Spain. Most friends want to stay in touch with you and will want to know what's going on in your performance world. An invite allows them to do this. Besides, if your friends like your work (which they should if they are your friends) this will allow them to forward the invite to their own friends who can attend.

6) Wait two days and then from the invite page, message all your guests with a short personal e-mail such as:

Just wanted to let you know about my next performance at Seeker’s Church on September 25 at 7:30. It’s a storytelling concert I’m doing with three friends and I thought you might be interested.

For more information or to buy tickets you can visit.:


*This friendly note alerts people like me who received the invite, but didn't open it or even know where to find it to the fact that you are having an event. Without this note, I'd never know.

7) Four weeks before your event, begin to post one status update related to your event. 

Remember to use the “@” symbol in front of your event title, wait for the link to upload and then place it in your status bar.  For example, “Looking forward to @Illumination: Four Tellers Telling later this month. I’m so excited!” The @symbol should disappear and make your title into a live click-thru link. (Double check to make sure it works)

*Studies show the best times for status updates are usually 8am and 4pm

8) One to three  weeks before your event, post 2 status updates related to your event that are similar, but different than the one above. For example, “Tickets for @Illumination: Four Tellers Telling are selling well.”

9) One week before your event, go back to your invite page and: a) send a personal note to anyone who has rsvp’ed Yes or Maybe. B) send a new personal note to those who haven’t sent in an rsvp.

10) If you want to bump up your response rate to nearly 35%, then you should actually send out a personal invite to every one of your friends. Yes, I actually do this for important events. Although I have nearly 1,800 friends and this takes a few days, it's an important and personal step.  If tickets sales, filling seats or connecting with friends you haven’t heard from in a while are important to you, you’ll consider doing this too.

If you'd like to see an invite for my upcoming storytelling concert on Facebook visit

For more info storytelling projects by me - Slash Coleman - please visit


  1. HI, Slash. Really like this list. Thanks for posting it! I've beome a total convert to the @HOTLINK method, too.

    I would also just add one additional comment to your #5:
    When you Invite all your Friends, considering asking them for help spreading the word. People are more likely to do that if they think it's important to you. If you don't want to do a general post askingfor that, then consider sending a private message to a select few that you think have audiences for whom the event will resonate.

    For example, with your Chaidenity program in the Fringe, I shared the Facebook Event posting you sent but also behind the scenes contacted someone I knew in the DC area whom I knew might be interested and asked him to share it out to his 700+ Friends, which he did, adding a personal note to the post. Don't know if it helped for sure, but I know that it couldn't have hurt plus my connection was happy to do me the favor -- a return for ones I've done for him in the past. So everyone felt good.

    Thanks again for this great how-to list. I'll share this post with my network!

  2. Great article. I learned a few new tips. Thanks Slash!!

  3. Another great article with hard won wisdom, generously shared. Who da mensch? You da mensch!

  4. Love it. You do know how to cut through the static. (Not so) loud; but definitely clear.

  5. Thanks for the luv everyone, glad it was helpful.

    To piggy back off of what @Robin mentioned. I think it also makes it easier for others to help spread the word if you give them something specific to post in their status for at least half a day with a link thru to your invitation.

  6. Invitations on Facebook seem to come in waves. Last year, I was drowning in them. This winter, hardly any. They are starting to pick up again.

    I'm noticing that the biggest blunder I am seeing is an invitation with no mention of the city (or country) that the event is in, only the venue.

    I get a lot of invites from people who live two thousand miles away from me. I can live with that-- I accept that I'm part of a global social network (although I really appreciate those who sort their Facebook friends into geographic lists and target their invites accordingly)

    I'm also getting invites to non-events. The invite seems to be on its way to becoming a standard way to blast out viral messages (about revisions to Facebook privacy policies or news feed toggles). This may increase Facebook invite fatigue.