Beyond the inbox: Event Farm is bringing online invitations to Twitter
Nobody wants to sift through their inbox in search of an event invitation. Most people probably don't want to think about their email at all and would prefer to avoid the countless unread messages, never-ending daily deals, and incessant reminders entirely. We use email because we have to, not because we want to, and that technological malaise makes it easy to ignore or forget something important, like an invitation to one of Disney, Microsoft, or Pepsi's swanky dinners or parties.
Event Farm, an online ticketing and event organization startup, wants to help those companies bypass your inbox and contact you somewhere you're a bit more likely to notice: Twitter. The company is currently beta testing a service called TwitterVite, which does about what you would expect by allowing companies to send online invitations via Twitter's platform.
"We're essentially trying to replace email as an invitation platform," says Event Farm CEO Ryan Costello. "You don't want an email, especially if you're from a younger generation. That's basically like receiving a message from a fax machine." Twitter, with its 140-character limit and hashtags and whatnot, is a bit more current than a fax machine and a lot less cluttered than your email inbox.
Invitations are sent via Direct Messages with dynamically-generated URLs tied to a specific invitee. While I could theoretically send you the link from my invitation, it's my name that would be marked on the guest list and my (cherubic? handsome? unshaven?) face they'd be expecting at the event itself. Costello says that the company decided to use Direct Messages instead of public tweets because it felt more personal and less showoff-y that way. The only problem -- for the invitee, not the company -- is that using Direct Messages requires that the invitee follows the company on Twitter, which sounds about as appealing as receiving a Snapchat from Taco Bell or thumbkissing with AT&T.
Costello says, however, that the people participating in TwitterVite's beta prefer the Direct Messages to email invitations, even if it means that they have to follow whichever company is inviting them to an event. And that's kind of the point, really, because TwitterVite isn't just about making online invitations less annoying. It's also about helping these companies learn more about their customers. (This is the part where I stop and let you bleat your NSA joke of choice.)
"We encourage our clients to think of events not only as an event but as a data collection exercise -- because that's what it is," Costello says. "The more data you have on your guests' behavior and who they are, the better off you're going to be." Using TwitterVite is meant to be a win-win that lets you avoid your email for a little while longer and gives one of Event Farm's customers another follower and another outlet they can use to reach you.
Costello compares this to updating a contact database, similar to the period when email was just becoming popular and companies decided to stop sending invitations via snail mail. Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks are becoming the primary methods through which we communicate with the outside world. Invitations might as well come along for the ride.
[Image sourced from Shutterstock]