So, as many of you know, I run a small Theatre company, an NPO, that also provides Theatre classes. We mostly have to rely on word-of-mouth and Google searches to find students to join our classes, but recently, after some success in the fall, we've been using Facebook's advertising options.
Initially, as I said, we had some small success with it, but there are some improvements I like to see (tied in with the way FB handles events), and there are some serious problems with it.
1) First major problem is targeting seems to be somewhat ineffective. When you create an advert on the system, you can specify a geographic area and interest keywords in order to narrow down who sees your advert. I have doubts as to whether this is working. We've recently been using FB to advertise events we've targeted to a geographic area and certain interests, and we've had people sign-up who pretty obviously don't even live in Japan, let alone the city we've specified.
2) Second major problem is that FB is crawling with what appear to be bots. They click on the advertising links and join the event, but it's pretty clear that they are not real people. Their profiles are empty and their photos are cartoons.
Which brings us to the main improvement that I want to suggest.
There should be an option that requires guests who want to say "yes" to attend an event to perform an action besides just clicking yes. Like paying a fee. It's easy to get people to click "yes" on an event invitation, but much harder to get them to follow through. An obvious solution would be to build payment into the FB event system (something similar to Meetup.com), but that isn't even necessary. There could just be a message to the user with a link to click to pay (like the event admin's website), and then the admin gets a notification to approve the guest, and can do so once he or she verifies the payment is completed. As it is right now, people can click yes, but not actually commit to coming.
The current system works relatively well if you're just setting up a small party, but if FB is going to accept money for adverts to promote your event, then they need to find a way of increasing quality. (If one wanted to be cynical, one might even suggest that it is FB itself that plants the bots/fake accounts. What other reason would the fakes have for signing up to an event than to drive up ad dollars?)
Of course, a solution would be to stop using FB adverts. Well, that may be the course I choose, but for a small company, FB's options are very cost-effective… provided they actually work. There aren't that many options out there that let me a) target well, and b) get them out quickly.
I was thinking that I'd go back to advertising a page on my website rather than an FB event, but that still leaves the problem with the faulty targeting and the bots… only now, the problem will be invisible. The bots obviously won't click through and pay, but by visiting my site at all, they still cost me money.
Those are my thoughts. Boo, Facebook.
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