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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How Facebook Events Fail

As a campus group leader, spreading the word about your on-campus event is no simple task.  It involves a combination of listserv emails, facebook event creation, flyer postings, chalking, google groups, updating your group website, and sometimes many others.  Of these, it seems that Facebook events have become the status-quo to make as many students as possible aware the event is taking place.  However, as many group leaders have found, Facebook events has three major shortcomings that prevent it from fulfilling its purpose:

1.) Facebook has no events directory.  If you're a student at MIT, how can you let the entire MIT community know an event is happening?  How can interested MIT students find out about your event if they're not close friends with others already going?  Well, you can't.  There's no centralized directory of events happening at MIT, or any other school for that matter.  Even if Facebook events could be tagged & searchable by geography that would be very useful; But they're not.  You just have to hope that one of your friends is attending via Facebook and you catch the News Feed entry.

2.) Event invites are limited to your personal network.   When you create a Facebook event to blast to your friends, you have to manually select every person who may be interested from your friends list, which is tedious and limits your event's reach.  If you're crafty enough to use JavaScript to blast it to ALL of your friends at once, then all your friends NOT at your school will be informed of your new event, and will be annoyed with you from halfway across the country.  The best way to do event invites is using the new-format Facebook Groups, which reaches those students who are part of the group.  However, students have a hard time even finding these groups to join, since they're mixed in with the other 948194891 groups on Facebook, which is why student groups often don't use them.  There just doesn't seem to be a right answer.

3.) Facebook has no calendar system.  Let's say that by sheer chance you do get an invite to an event.  You get a notification (and usually an e-mail) so that you're informed.  But then what?  Sure, you can choose "Yes" and let your friends know you're going, but that's about it.  Facebook has no way of organizing all the events you're going to.   It's entirely up to you to transcribe the event onto your personal calendar, and as we all know, that emails get overlooked or archived more often than not.

Wouldn't it be nice if Facebook had a calendar of all events happening on your campus?  What about a fully sortable, searchable database that ranks events on your campus by how popular they are, how many of your friends are going, or when they're happening?  What if the same were true of campus groups too?  How about automatically keeping your calendar synced with these groups so that you're always informed?

It is for these reasons that Planga was built.  We created a campus-inclusive system that lets students find any and all events happening in their communities, and to effortlessly stay in touch with the groups they care about.  We even went one step further by allowing students to view their friends shared calendars, so that they know where their friends are going at all times.

Planga is what Facebook events should have been.  We have some really groundbreaking features in the works that take these social concepts further than we ever imagined, so stay tuned!

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