Facebook etiquette: Event invitations

Maybe my blood's up a bit because someone pushed hard for a meeting I didn't want to have and then canceled last minute, but I have to be honest, I'm really sick of getting Facebook invitations to events I'm obviously not coming to.

And by "obviously not coming to," I mean the event is 300 miles away, on short notice (a day or two), on a weekday, and is something you have invited me to half a dozen times in the past without me showing up.

In short, there's no reason for you to believe I have any interest in coming. Add to it that I've actually spent time in your presence only a few times in the past eight years, and every time it's because I'm close with your brother- and sister-in-law, and I have to wonder if I should consider cutting the cord.

No, seriously. I understand that I could just delete the event invitation from my email, but I wrote about this in June about a local social media conference: if you want to be a customer service-driven business, you may as well show some good customer service.

Because frankly, if you clutter up my inbox with stuff I didn't ask for and that I'm already not responding positively to, I'm not only unlikely to patronize your business, I'm unlikely to recommend it. And if I don't like the way you run your business, I'm unlikely to view you as one of my favorite people.

So here is how the etiquette on this works. Let's say you have over 500 Facebook friends and you have an event that's of a special interest. Don't blast all your friends. Reach out to the ones who are likely to come -- those who first are in your general location, and if you really want to target people, invite those who are already your customers or those who are likely to get something out of it.

If your event is a social gathering on a weekend, you might be able to stretch that radius to people who are within an overnight trip. This doesn't include your Facebook friends across the country or across an ocean.

If it's your wedding, well, that's different. If it's a funeral, same thing. But a specialized, very local workshop? Come on.

If you don't clutter people's inboxes, they're unlikely to clutter yours. And if you clutter other people's inboxes repeatedly, they may either reach out and ask you to stop, which, let's face it, is a conversation you don't want to have, if you're the defensive sort, or they may just unclutter themselves, cutting you off.

It's really just a matter of being polite. Get some online manners.



  • Totally agree, but also think putting it into practice is hard. For instance, if I’ve friended a band or a restaurant, they really don’t know who I am or where I am. They only know that I have shown some interest — which is why I get FB invites to see Joey Driscoll whether he is playing Bull-n-Bear or in London.

    Also, when I have a party and I am selecting who to invite from my list of friends, I inevitably accidentally neglect to invite someone I truly want to invite, and I then inevitably get a message from that person after they have heard about the party from another friend asking me why I have dropped them from the party list. So I tend to over invite to avoid hurt feelings.

    But still, you’re point is a good one. If you can target people directly, then why act like a junk mail spammer?

    • Greg,

      Actually, if the restaurant or band wanted to put in the effort, they could — your Facebook profile DOES say where you are, and if they put the effort in, they could break up their invites. In fact, if they put their fans into lists, it would be very easy.

      All performers should follow the example my friend Seth Horan sets. He performs across the U.S. and has, over the past few years, been performing overseas. But you know what? If he’s not coming within several hours’ drive, I don’t get an email I have to toss in the trash.

      If I had to dump one once in a while? Fine, but he did this when he was performing 300 shows a year — I only ever heard from him when he was in the Northeast.

      But if you’re a small, very targeted business who’s not for everyone and who charges a fee based on being a specialty, I feel very much like you should put the effort into targeted marketing. I wouldn’t invite someone a 4-hour drive away to a 90-minute social networking event on a Monday night — it’s just a courtesy. I’d like the same treatment, especially if you’re asking for my business or a referral.

  • Good stuff here. When pushing my recent workshop, I selected only people who were local. What sense would it make inviting people who live in Florida or in another country? I get tons of those also, and like you said, if they’re paying attention they know I’m not leaving NY to go to these events multiple, multiple hours away.

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