Tuesday, April 5, 2011
NYC's Gay Nightlife Promoters are in trouble... or are they?
About three weeks ago, Facebook dealt an unannounced, and vicious blow to the gay nightlife promoting world (and probably the ANY KIND of promoting world). With no warning, the social network axed the "Invite All" option on its Facebook events and invites.
"Invite All" was a magical button. It allowed you to create "groups" of friends by investing a few hours to click and select every single one of your friends and saving them in a chunk. From that first investment on, to blast all however-many thousand of them you felt like, you just clicked "invite all". Presto-Changeo, you were a human SPAMbot.
The loss of this option was a tragedy. You could hear the pitched howls and moans of every nightlife promoter from Brooklyn to Westchester as they discovered that, if they wanted to invite every single one of their friends to their events, they would have to actually sit there and click each of their photos (usually amidst a list of over 4,000 "friends") each and every time.
Most say this was a horrible thing. The end of social networking promotions! Fuck Facebook! How will we promote!?
I say anyone who whined needs to be a bit more creative. Because "Invite All" never worked to begin with.
Like many promoters, I began with this strategy. I would add people I didn't know, throw them on my list, and blast them many times a week for each party. A few months ago, I stopped sending mass Facebook invites. I also stopped adding my new friends to what I called my "SPAM list."
Why? Because Facebook invites don't work. I realized this. Well, they work if your goal is to piss your friends off and have them remove you. As far as attendance at your events? No... they don't work.
It's this simple: Facebook users who are friends with at least two nightlife promoters would have their inboxes flooded with invites every week. Usually for the same weekly parties that have been running the same time every week for years. How many times can you read the same damn thing before your eyeballs revolt? Not very many.
So the SPAM targets stopped reading the invites. Stopped opening them. Left them stacked on the side of their Facebook like junk mail. If any promoter was dumb enough to let you see their event's RSVP list you would see something like:
145,000 NOT YET REPLIED
Unfortunately this didn't stop many promoters. They kept sending their capital-letter infused invites, and pissing off the recipients.
And so on it went. Even worse? RSVP lists were a terrible way of gauging event success. People from other countries would say they were attending events twenty time zones away from them. Maybe? Maybe? No one ever changed it to a yes or a no. No science and math here, just a waste of time, energy, and space.
So Facebook turned off the faucet.
Again: I think this is good. Why? Because the events weren't working, and now we can no longer pretend that they did. Now we must get creative. Now we need to pitch our events to media, make use of our walls and groups, embrace other social media channels, use in-person word-of-mouth marketing, and (gasp!) directly engage our "friends" (which has a nice side-effect of removing the quotation marks and making them actual friends) in order to fill our events.
Nightlife promotions are tough. Especially if you run weekly parties. Because you are effectively trying to convince people to go to the same venue on the same day of every week for the rest of their young, sexy lives.
So you need to incentivize them. Make every event unique and tantalizing. And now you need to be more creative in how you spread your buzz, your awareness, and grow your audience. Encourage them to bring friends. And then encourage those friends to bring their friends.
I like to compare the smart type of promoting to laser-guided cancer radiation therapy. A single point of energy aimed specifically at a target and then fired. An example of this is directly IMing someone and inviting them to your party, offering them free entries and drinks and saying they are welcome to bring a friend or two. This is then followed by being engaged with this person and their friends at the party, making sure their glasses are never empty, and that you introduce them to a ton of people. So they have fun and love your event. Don't be surprised if each of them brings two or more people with them next time. And then, if you treat the larger group the same, an even larger group may come the week after.
This is far better than the Facebook SPAM method, which I liken to dropping an atom bomb. Yes, the radiation approach takes more time and effort, but the return on investment is far more meaningful, and beneficial, than WRITING IN ALL CAPS AND SCREAMING AT PEOPLE YOU DON'T KNOW TO COME TO YOUR HOT SEXY DICK BUTT ASS BOYS FUCK FACE PARTY.
Think about it: who would you spend more time listening to? A guy talking to you alone and having a conversation? Or somebody screaming at you and everyone near you from across the street through a megaphone?
One works, the other never worked but now is no longer available any way.
Well, there is a code you can jack into your Facebook invite to auto-select all group members if you want. But I don't advise it. For one: Facebook will find you and ban your ass from this Garden of Eden. And for two, Invite All doesn't work!
In the end, it's not like we have a choice after all.
So we better get creative.
- Justin Luke