• Rachyl Jackson

Everything you need to know about Facebook Event Response Ads

Though F

acebook events aren’t inherently evil, their many moving parts make them a challenge for even advanced marketers. With over 2 billion active monthly users, Facebook is simply the most effective way to reach a mass of people with event-specific information. Through trial and error (see our post on running a campaign for a Facebook Live event), our team has painstakingly uncovered the do’s and don’ts of Facebook event advertising.

Enter the Facebook event response ad.

The ad unit mimics a typical Facebook event invite, asking users to click “interested” or “going” to RSVP. Ignore for a moment that most of your FB friends respond “going” with no intention of actually leaving their homes.

Linking directly to the event page, event response ads provide a seamless pathway from newsfeed to invite. And because the unit pulls directly from the event page, it looks more like a boosted post than a straight-up ad. That “boosted post” feel contributes to authenticity in-feed.

Unfortunately, that’s where the pros of the event response ads end. Audience targeting is particularly tricky for events. You need to target both the type of person who would attend your event AND the type of person that would click the RSVP button on Facebook. Sometimes these two audiences overlap and sometimes they don’t. Luckily, lookalike audiences can supplement any targeting that falls flat. A LAL of users that have committed to your event will populate with the type of folks who respond to Facebook events, upping your RSVP count.

During event response campaigns, Facebook searches high and low for those most willing to click the “interested” or “going” button. Keep in mind that an event RSVP is a much higher ask than a click or a video view. Your audience is committing a few hours of their life to attend your event, not watching a 15 second video. So don’t fret if CPM’s seem sky high. Our campaigns have seen CPMs in the high teens and twenties, averaging at $24.71. Alas, CPM isn’t the best measure for event campaign performance.

Because event response ads rely on RSVP’s, their monitoring should be treated more like a traffic campaign. That means CPM is out, and CTR is in. But plotwist — event response ads don’t have outbound links to click. There’s no website or app on the other end of the unit, just the Facebook event page. So be sure to keep an eye on CTR (All) rather than CTR (Link). This is the measure of any clicks on the ad, including clicks to expand media, to play video, post reactions, and for our purposes, button clicks. Basically, CTR(All) is the percent of people who have seen the ad that click the RSVP button.

Another key metric to follow is Cost per Event Response (spent / event responses received). Note that CPE’s will be higher than a cost per click or cost per app download. We’ve found it helpful to set a goal/limit CPE before running your campaign as an quick ROI check.

For the sake of transparency, I’ve outlined our Facebook event response ad benchmarks below. These ads represent over 2.5 million impressions and ran during the first half of 2018.

CTR (All) — 4.60%

CPM — $24.71

CPE — $6.47

From an advertiser’s perspective, an event response campaign is successful when click through rates are high and RSVPs are plenty. The client’s goal however, is butts in seats. The shrink between “goings” and actual event attendance is a well documented phenomenon. We all know how easy it is to click the “interested” button during moments of optimism. We estimate that about 60% of those who RSVP actually attend. Don’t be afraid to pull a Southwest and overbook. There will be no shows.

For those with more modest advertising budgets, organic community management is a must. In addition to a steady drip of posts in your event’s page, community managers should take advantage of Facebook event notifications. Think about the sheer mass of notifications that pop up in your feed per week. Make those work for you.

Unfortunately, Facebook doesn’t divulge the exact number of event notifications users receive. Through experimentation and campaign monitoring, I’ve recorded the many (and I mean many) touch points that Facebook notifications provide.

Invite Notifications

In some cases, Facebookers are first made aware of an event through a personal invitation. Event hosts can trigger a notification by directly inviting friends to their event. Facebook limits each host to 500 direct invites.

Direct invites encourage immediate response, resulting in timeline posts. When a friend clicks “interested” or “going” on an event, the post may be shared to their timeline, building your event’s awareness within that friend’s circle.

Pre-Event Notifications

As an event approaches, Facebook makes a few attempts to remind users and encourage responses. These notifications occur a week before an event, the day before an event, and the day of an event.

In addition to reminders for events users have responded to directly, Facebook lets you know what upcoming events your friends are interested in. As event responses grow, more and more users will be notified of their friends’ interest. This allows your event to reach extended social circles.

Discussion Posts and Event Changes Notifications

While Facebook does its best to organically recommend events, hosts should consider drumming up interest internally. When hosts make edits to events or post in the event discussion forum, a notification is generated. Hosts can build excitement by posting photos, behind the scenes video, ticket links, or even polling the crowd.

By default, Facebook events are set to send email notifications. While many users have custom email settings, it is important to consider notification by email. Posts made by hosts will be sent via notification email.

Day-Of Event Notifications

Users should expect a reminder notification the day of an event. This notification will act as Facebook’s final effort to encourage attendance. This is a great time to motivate potential guests with a memorable call to action. Any last-minute details, changes, or alerts should be posted day-of.

When an event occurs, users that have clicked “interested” or “going” will also see a “Happening Now” alert in their right-hand sidebar. An additional notification will be sent for Facebook Live events as they occur.

If you want to sell out a concert or fill an auditorium, look no further than Facebook events. While tricky to manage, Facebook events are currently the most robust option available for event marketing. Brands with and without ad budgets should take advantage of the many native features the platform offers.

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