Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Social Media and the Death of the RSVP

How do you feel when you invite someone to an event, via Evite, FaceBook events or by DM or "feed" on Twitter, and then the person does not respond?

Quite unintentionally, I did a little experiment in this realm only to realize that people do like me but are overwhelmed by social media.

I was throwing an Earth Hour fundraiser to benefit Climate Cycle, a Chicago bike ride that puts solar power in Chicago schools. So, like any social "media experts," I tweeted regularly, to alert the media. I emailed the PSA's to the proper media. And I changed my FaceBook picture to the national Earth Hour logo and sent out a detailed Event invite to FaceBook friends whom I specifically wanted to attend this $10 lights-out with-flashlights event at an art gallery. Also sent were 4o Evites via email to my nearest and dearest as well as 300 emails which probably overlapped all of the above.

Do you know how many RSVP's I got the first week? Two.

Of course, I thought I had booked my event on the same night as a bigger better event in Chicago. Or maybe the cost was too high? Maybe my friends hated me? Or worse: my social media "influence" was so low that anything I did was not going to be important enough to attend or mention.

Upon investigation, the media people could only put me on a calendar because there were so many other Earth Hour events going on in the city of Chicago. Yeah for green Chicago! So my feeling were not hurt there. And when I began to message my friends on FaceBook who did not respond, most of them said they had been busy and didn't even notice the event or that they were waiting to respond to see if they could come.

Of the emailed and Evited, I began to make personal calls. And that is when my event booked up. Of all of my verbal RSVP's on the phone, all of them said they felt overwhelmed by Emails and Evites and Facebook events. And most everyone had just shut down, looked down, and pretended that hadn't seen any invites or posts from anyone. Not just mine. They were just overloaded and most all of them appreciated my personal call.

Now, I'm not saying that I'm going to call everyone the next time I have another event or party. But I think I'm going to look at snail-mail and phoning to, at least, the most important friends that I want to come to my next party.

It's sad that social media is overloading people so much that they are not responding at all.

I get it. Many of those invitations are directs sells to something. And we are all victims of being one of many people using social media for personal use-which also makes us targets, publicly exposed to marketers and other social media experts, like me, who have something that we want you to buy or attend.

If I have any advice at all on this subject, it is to respond. Yeah or nay. On Facebook and Evite, feel free to decline. Your invitor needs a head count. I like to add that the "event sounds great but that I have previous engagement." No feelings will get hurt, and you will keep getting invited--maybe to an event that you would like and can attend. On Twitter, go ahead and retweet or DM your twit-friend and say "what a cool event"-you can also say that you would go but you cannot. To me, Twitter is still a personal conversation with many and we do need each other. Maybe not now, but we are all building up "followings."

To all those who don't respond: Don't worry about it. If the person who invited you wanted you to come so bad, they could have sent a real (old fashioned) invite in the mail or (gasp) called you.

My last comment is an apology to all those whom I had not responded to in the past. I promise to let you know if I can or cannot attend your event. Your event is important to you and I respect that you would like me to throw you some love. I can do that, if not in person, then in a two sentence response.

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  1. Great research! I sometimes dont' reply to evites for FB event invites, but only if they're are hundreds if not thousands of invitees. It's not like Stimulus Social Club is going to notice if I don't reply. But if it's a personal friend, or a private party with only a few handful of guests, I definitely reply. Sometimes I may wait until a few days before because I don't like to commit to something too far in advance. (I'm a commitment phobe).


  2. On FB Chris responded: "I have to say I didn't realize invites on FB were "real" events, I thought they were "cyber" events. I got two invites with the earth hour logo. One from a friend in CA. Have to say, didn't read either of them in enough detail for full comprehension."
    On FB I responded to Chris: "I think there are people who use social media for invites and those who don't. We are in a time where we have to respect both. But it's frustrating for social media peeps and non-users alike-trying to reach out to specific friends who are split on the way they like to be approached.I hope I get more responses like yours, Chris. It's an interesting topic."
    Then Curly Tale Fine Art chirped in: "I love this blog...did I say love? I mean LOVE!!!
    Social etiquette has died and I want it back. I miss it."
    And Chris came back with: "I don't know that it has died. Honestly, I am mortified that I did not rsvp. I think society and how we interact is/are (help) changing so fast that one no longer knows what to expect or how to behave. Plus, you actually have to have an understanding, sometimes technical, of what is happening. This is especially hard for those who just hang out on the edge of some of this stuff. I am best with paper."
    So I wrapped it up with: "Don't be mortified, Chris. The invitor and the invitee have not yet caught up with each other on what media we use anymore. My 14 year old neice wouldn't write a thank you note or RSVP to save her life. And it would be a better life if she did. Uh-oh... I feel another blog coming on. SEE:social media does something good. THANK YOU for your responses!"

    And yes, I'll be writing about my thank you notes too. That's something we all should be doing. Yes?

  3. My friend, Tim, just emailed me and said, "So, basically, this is just a bitch from a bitch."

  4. First off, it was really great meeting you last night!

    There's a lot to learn from this post! I too kind of shut down during the whole Earth Hour event invites. Ignored a whole lot of it that came my way, but I will never do that again. Because of this post, I will make sure to say YAY or NAY on all my FB invites!

    I do like direct email invites though whenever doing my events and then I link it to eventbrite for a more official count.

    See you again somewhere soon...

    :-) @mjtam - Chicagonista.com