How Social Networks Help Your Event Sell Out

22 Nov

Last night, I had a bunch of friends over for a Thanksgiving potluck.  As we were sitting around after dinner, drinking coffee and lamenting Northwestern’s loss at historic Wrigley Field on Saturday, I started thinking about the power of social networks to bring people together.  There were my friends from high school, fraternity brothers, my girlfriend’s roommates – all together, sharing pie, and all because of the various ties of my social network.

So what does all this have to do with ticketing and event marketing? Quite a lot, it turns out.  Social networks – who we know and how we know them, and in turn who they know – are a fundamental thread of the fabric of society.  A lot of researchers, business analysts, and bloggers have spent time trying to quantify the benefits of a social network and the role that such networks play in our lives.  The Casey Foundation, a non-profit that helps disadvantaged children, authored a study on the role of social networks in strengthening families and transforming communities.  Academics James Fowler and Nicholas Cristakis wrote a book on the subject entitled Connected: The Surprising Power of Our Social Networks and How They Shape Our Lives, and the book was named a must-read for 2010 byGood magazine. (See Fowler’s intriguing interview on “The Colbert Report” here.)

The book’s premise is simple: “Social influence does not end with the people we know.  If we affect our friends, and they affect their friends, then our actions can potentially affect people we have never met…We believe that our connections to other people matter most, and that by linking the study of individuals to the study of groups, the science of social networks can explain a lot about human experience.”

People follow the lead of their social networks.  More often than not, you like the same bands as your friends, wear the same styles, go to the same parties.  But the power of social networks goes deeper than that: not only are you connected to your friends, you are also indirectly connected to all their friends, and so on.  Tapping into these tertiary connections can help you find a new job, a great new band, or even a place to crash for the night in a random city after your flight gets cancelled.

The same thing happens when you host an event – in this case, a charity benefit bar night. First, you share it with a couple of close friends, e-mailing or calling them to make sure they’re coming, and tell them to invite as many friends as they want.  Then you post the event on Facebook, and invite everyone you know.  Well, they’re not all going to come, but when they reply to the event invitation, that shows up in their news feed, where one of their co-workers sees it when he’s surfing Facebook bored at work.  You’ve never met this person, but it turns out she’s a big supporter of your cause, and she comes to your event with a bunch of friends and a fat donation check.  The power of social networks, jumpstarted by the Web, is key to exposing your event to its full potential.

FanFueled understands the power of sharing and the value of social networks to publicizing events.  We’re the first online ticketing service to reward fans for sharing events, because we recognize that fans’ shared interests and social ties, not street team flyers or newspaper listings, are the best way to bring like-minded people together for a successful event.  Our rewards model follows this logic – we pay for referrals along several “degrees of separation.” It’s possible (and easy) to earn rewards from tickets bought by someone you don’t even know when you share your unique referral link, your friends buy tickets from it, and then they share too.  That’s the power of social networks, and the heart of what FanFueled stands for.

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