Warning: Facebook cannot be depended on to gather attendees for intimate birthday parties and funerals!

Funerals on FacebookOver the last year I have used Facebook as the primary medium to gather friends for social events such as pool parties, open houses, taco night, and most recently my husband’s 40th birthday party.

I began the Casa Bonita Social Club as a way to entertain and build strong, lasting relationships. The response was very disappointing. I cancelled our Labor Day party due to no RSVP’s.

As a media expert, I know the rules when it comes to building a successful campaign for products, services, and branding efforts. It starts with setting realistic expectations. When I launched the American Heart Association of Oregon’s Facebook page, it took over six weeks to get “liked” by 100 people. Once the 100 person mark was reached, the “likes” grew exponentially. The goal of the page was to create an awareness of local events and national health issues revolving around heart disease, obesity, and stroke. The expectations were managed, and the long-term social media campaign is on track.

Working with State Senator Richard Develin (D-Tualatin, OR) on his campaign, I advised him about setting realistic expectations when it comes to online promotion. He selected not to launch a social media strategy due to the fact the election was only weeks away, and a Facebook campaign could not deliver the results he desired. Instead he focused on other efforts which lead to his re-election. His opponent, however, was immersed in what looked like a successful online campaign, but it did not yield the results she desired.

Although I know how to develop social media campaigns by setting realistic goals and expectations, I did not use these strategies in my own efforts to build a social network outside of the online world. I took it for granted that I have 500 friends on Facebook. I felt that many of these “friends” would be engaged enough reading my posts that they would take action. Today, people are so involved in multi-tasking and interacting with their devices that it takes extra effort to get them to interact in a face-to-face social environment. Sometimes only a phone call will work at persuading a person to attend a social function. I learned this lesson the hard way and it has changed the way I will approach social media in the future.

A friend of mine died last week and no one called to tell me about the funeral. After the funeral, I received a text message from a friend who was surprised I was not there to support the family. My response: “No one told me or my husband.” Later I found out another friend posted it on Facebook and I didn’t see it.

Dear readers, I hope you can understand my complete shock and anger at the fact that no one picked up the phone to call me. A Facebook announcement is only effective if it appears in the “News Feed” at the time the user logs in. Most Facebook users don’t read every single post or click the “Older Post” link at the bottom of the page. There are many, many strategies you can implement to make sure your friends see a post – post it on their wall, upload a picture and tag them in it, post an event and send an invite, send a message…. Or for the sake of those in mourning, pick up the phone and call.  After all, that’s why the phone was originally invented.


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