SXSW Music Increases Reliance on Facebook Events

Many event promoters at last week’s South By Southwest Music Festival used Facebook Events to replace or complement event listings on their websites. The annual showcase of upcoming musical artists presents a challenge to bands, promoters and venues who must compete with dozens of concurrent events for attendees. While in previous years most promoters chose to register RSVPs through a custom form on their site or by providing an email address to contact, Facebook events hosted by Pages became much more prevalent this year.

For example, of the 110 unofficial parties listed for Friday, March 19th on event listings aggregator Plancast and popular city blog Austinist, 48 had Facebook events. Note that many of those without formal events still announced details in updates to related Pages. This adoption may signal that more of the 3.5 million Facebook events created each year, up from 2.5 million announced in July, are professionally organized public events. This is good news for Facebook, which is preparing improvements to its Events app later this year, we hear.

Subscription music service Mog opted to forego posting details of its  SXSW party to its site, instead creating a Facebook event hosted by their Page. While the party also had a listing on local Austin events calendar DO512, that listing had less than half as many RSVPs and was not updated with set times as was the Facebook event.

There are many advantages to using Facebook over the alternatives. Those RSVP’d to Facebook events can easily access a calendar of events and their up-to-date details, which is especially helpful since many SXSW events are promoted before lineups and set times are finalized. Promoters can reach those RSVP’d through their message inbox, a much less noisy channel than email. Lastly, RSVP’ing to an event places a link to the event on the attendee’s wall and in the News Feed of their network, generating leads.

Brands looking to increase awareness through event sponsorship, i.e. “JanSport Presents the Under the Radar SXSW 2010 Day Party” also receive impressions through the wall and live feed from those who can’t attend. Interestingly, event hosts missed a significant opportunity to increase their Page statistics, as none of the SXSW events we came across included a call to become fans in their descriptions — although Levi’s/Fader Fort was a notable exception.

Similar to how brands are discovering the importance of Pages to their existing promotional mix, those looking to throw events are realizing there’s much to gain by posting them on Facebook. This shift combined with rumors of Facebook adding geolocation features and potentially ticket selling partnerships could make the site a powerful way to discover, buy tickets for, find out details about, and check-in to events.

Event organizers, be sure to check out more details about how to use Events as part of your promotional campaign in our Facebook Marketing Bible.