How Facebook Could Help More Users ‘Make Plans’

A new mock-up from Facebook and other recent changes suggest the social network could be making another push to make Events seem less formal.

Facebook has long wanted to make its Events product a tool for users to organize casual get-togethers not just parties or big events. Still, users are unlikely to use the feature for more spontaneous plans unless Facebook introduces a way to create events from mobile that can compete with the efficiency of group text messaging.

In the mock-up Facebook provided to illustrate Sponsored Stories in the News Feed, we noticed a design and name change for Events. Instead of “Create an Event” being on the right hand side of the home page squashed between Ticker and ads, there is a “Make Plans” option in the publisher at the top of the page. Last month Facebook made two other semantic changes within Events — using “Join” instead of “RSVP” and “Going” instead of “Attending.” This less formal language could lead more people to use Facebook Events for everyday plans.

Whenever Facebook has made changes to Events, designers have emphasized the product’s potential for spur of the moment gatherings. The first time event creation was added to the publisher, an official blog post suggested it was a way “to plan a more spontaneous get-together.” When Facebook added an Events box to the home page, the blog post mentioned “casual get-togethers,” “an impromptu day trip” and “last-minute plans.”

The website no longer features a way to create events from the publisher or directly from the home page. Users are also unable to create events from the iPhone or Android apps. The mobile touch site includes the capability, but the design is not optimal since the many of the buttons are too small.

To really get users making plans with Facebook Events, the company would have to develop an even easier flow and bring it to the native apps. Events could be an appropriate addition to the standalone Messenger app, which has made one-to-one and group messaging faster than in the main Facebook app. Some mobile apps, like Holler and Hurricane Party, aim to give people ways to create events on the fly, but without integrating Facebook’s social graph, they are of little use.

Facebook wants to position itself as a platform providing the tools for users to share social data that can be accessed by any developer to create new applications, but the company doesn’t shy away from encroaching on someone else’s territory. Developers operate in fear that the social network may eventually release a competing product, crushing smaller competition with its massive userbase. Checkin services, photo sharing apps and group messaging platforms have all faced this challenge, and it is unclear whether Facebook will wait for the pain points of organizing impromptu events to be solved by a third-party developer using the Events API or integrate this into the Facebook product itself.