Personally, on a given night when I want to find something to do, I call, text or Instant Message my friends. Generally speaking for all students, when it comes to finding something to do at school, I am going to check my Facebook Events page because it lists almost all the events I would be interested in. While some of the on-campus events I come across on Facebook are run by students and their organizations, the majority are events programmed by the actual school.
Although the events are organized by an institution, it is almost always the case that the Facebook Events are created by students. This is problematic in several ways. One is that unreliable information about events might be delivered if the institution does not assure that details are correct. Also important is the trustworthiness of the Facebook Events; when students create dozens of random events for different entities, how am I supposed to know that my school’s upcoming concert is legitimate? This is also connected to the problem of discrepancies in which several students make multiple Event Invitations for the same event.
As a student leader myself, I know how important it is to get the word out when you have an event planned. But if you’re an institution spending loads of money to produce an event, what’s more important is whether or not the word being spread is accurate. So why are they leaving the creation of Facebook Events up to complete strangers, who may not always have their best interests in mind? Does that institution really want this unreliable, not up to date exchange of information? If not, how can Higher Ed solve this problem?
The truth of the matter is that it’s a challenge that may not be easily met with one practical solution. Higher Ed must know that Facebook promotion (e.g. Facebook Events) should be integrated with your current marketing strategies (e.g. school websites) for campus-wide events and that schools must keep in mind how to connect and regulate information between the two. At first thought, manually creating Facebook events might seem like a good option, but doing this would keep both ends separate and would require a lot of work. Facebook Connect would be a better alternative in achieving integration but doesn’t exactly solve the problem with events. UCLA’s Happenings Events Calendar, which consolidates every UCLA-relevant event into one accessible calendar, is a great example of somewhat bridging this gap. With its recent addition of Facebook’s Like and Recommendations plugins, the website’s visitors are able to see who in their Facebook friends have “Liked” the event and who have recommended the event to the rest of their Facebook network–both of which publishes the activity on the visitors’ News Feed. Still, though, this does not achieve the goal in unifying events on both ends.
So what’s the answer? Unfortunately it’s still out there and undiscovered. Whether it’s manually entering Facebook events, bridging the gap with Facebook Connect or perhaps something else entirely, the fact remains that until this is answered, students will continue to rely on unreliable information from unreliable people simply because it’s easier to check Facebook than to navigate a school’s site. Not knowing if your word is being spread effectively is a very scary thought.