We’re creatures of habit. We go where we’ve already gone. That’s why Facebook’s new Suggested Events feature I just discovered is so powerful — it knows where we’ve been thanks to our checkins. Replacing the old Friends’ Events sub-tab of the home page’s Events bookmark, Suggested Events helps you discover things to do that take place at venues you’ve checked in to, that friends are RSVP’d to, that are hosted by Pages you Like, or a combination. The feature could reduce the need third-party event discovery apps, and get more people out of their houses to attend concerts, club nights, and conferences.
[Update: Facebook tells me it is testing the feature, though it has now been rolled out to the entire user base. A spokesperson also says suggestions can be based on the music you listen to through Open Graph apps, which can help improve recommendations for those who checkin via Foursquare or don't share their location at all.]
By promoting offline interaction, Suggested Events should quiet critics who say Facebook weakens real human relationships and leads people to sit at home. It has huge potential to generate good will for Facebook and make the service seem even more indispensable. If you go to a great show, have a fun night out with friends, or meet someone new at a suggested venue, your perception of Facebook’s value to your life will undoubtedly improve.
Sure, you should branch out and find new places to go, but new events at your favorite places are still unique experiences. The feature exposes you to events that are relevant and that you might drag friends to, even if you weren’t invited to them and don’t have friends already RSVP’d.
“What should I do tonight?” is a very prevalent question lots of startups are trying to answer. Just this month we covered the launch of UpOut for real-time discovery, and SeatGeek’s Columbus that’s a “Pandora for live events”. Established players include Plancast and EventBrite, the latter of which closed a huge $50 million funding round and also suggests events your Facebook friends are going to.
But the problem with these services is that they can’t produce as relevant suggestions because they don’t automatically know where you spend your time, which is a proxy for what type of events you go to. Facebook’s Suggested Events adapts to your preferences.
I go to lots of concerts, and Facebook effectively knows this because I check in to the venues or the events themselves thanks to a mobile feature added last year (possibly to collect data for this). Now, Suggested Events recommends me concerts taking place at my favorite venues. The music industry stands to gain a lot from the feature, since concerts are thrown frequently, and occur at Places people commonly check in to.
If you’re in college, Suggested Events might recommend parties at campus dorms, whereas professionals might get clued in to meetups or conferences at local convention halls they visit. The feature also alerts you to Events hosted by Pages you Like, which could encourage more venues, performers, or production companies to officially host the events they throw. One day the feature might be able to show events where a band I Like was mentioned in the description.
With third-party apps you enter your preferences or upload them via Facebook Connect, but then also have to remember to visit. Facebook’s new native event discovery feature makes finding fun things to do a seamless part of every day browsing. That means more outings, more moments, more memories. And you know where you can display the photos, checkins, and status updates about those memories? Timeline.