Facebook Lets Users Check In to Events via the Touch Site, Soon the iPhone

Facebook users can now check in to Facebook Events they’re currently attending through the touch.facebook.com site and soon through the Facebook for iPhone app. When users are in geographic proximity to the address of an Event during its run-time, they’ll see a “Check In” button that publishes a news feed story to their friends stating “[Name] is at [Event].” Users will no longer have to create a new Places page or add the name of an Event to a checkin’s description when they want to tell friends they’re at a specific party, concert, or other gathering.

By allowing Places checkins to Events, Facebook may be able to cross-promote the two features, inspiring users to RSVP and check in more often. It will also draw attention to Events that are in progress, and give Event promoters another way to gauge success. The ‘Attending’ RSVP count isn’t an accurate way to determine foot traffic, as many people say they’ll attend, or not, then do the opposite.

When Places launched in August, we discussed the potential for the feature to enhance Events, including creating a better Event discovery method through the checkin feed. Facebook tested a Happening Now section on the Facebook.com Events home page to improve visibility of Events in progress. Until now, though, users would typically just check in to the venue hosting the party, or add a custom Places page for an Event they wanted to check in to.

Users don’t need to have been invited or have RSVP’d to check in to an Event, they just need to be within a certain proximity while the Event is going on. Friends can be tagged just as in normal Places checkins, and anyone checked in is automatically added to the Attending guest list of the Event.

On the mobile interface, checked in friends appear as stories on the info tab, while on the web version of Facebook those who are checked in appear in a new “[#] Friends Were Here” section. This allows users to easily determine which of their friends have arrived at an Event, which could be useful for timing one’s own arrival.

Most smartphone users can now access Event check-in feature via the Facebook Touch site, though Facebook says the next iPhone release will include the functionality, and you can expect Android devices to soon follow suit.

Facebook has yet to offer any dedicated analytics for Events, which could help promoters track how many invites, RSVPs, wall posts, shares, and now checkins their Events have. Facebook did recently add Places checkins to Insights, so perhaps it will introduce some sort of Insights for Event admins.

Checkins coud help Event pages become streams of real-time information, allowing visitors to assess the popularity, progress, and highlights of Events as they happen. If a friend checks in to a concert and adds a description saying there’s a huge line outside or that a special guest has just taken the stage, Event pages could structure data that was previously scattered across the news feed.\

[Thanks to Kevin Evanetski for the tip]