A couple of months back, I got this email from Kevin Teichroeb, who is the Tech guru guy at the Alliance for Arts and Culture.
He asked me this:
I was just in a meeting today discussing RSVPs sent on FB. Someone mentioned that before FB when “you and a guest” received an invitation to a performance, it meant you were being offered a complimentary ticket. Now, with FB, it is ambiguous. Quite often you are just being invited to come buy tickets to the performance. What exactly is the etiquette of FB invitations?
I should first explain one thing: here in the world of theatre, it is common practice to invite a lot of people to come to your opening night for free. “Papering the house,” as, its called, is considered good marketing for a few reasons:
1. Getting lots of people in through the door early helps to build the buzz about the show: they go away and tell their friends (hopefully, in theory!), “Hey, I saw this great show last night, you should go see it!”
2. It is a courtesy or a sign of respect to invite your fellow theatre artists, especially Artistic Directors and General Managers, to come and see your show, so that you can see each others’ work, and network.
When people hire me to to publicity, I have a list of 50 0r so ADs and GMs that I send out an opening night invitation to. This invite is usually good for two people: the invitee and a guest.
Facebook invites are an entirely different ball game. I am very careful to limit the amount of free invitations I send out, because we could easily overbook the house (particularly if it’s a small venue) and have angry people wanting to get in, and not able to, because there aren’t enough seats. I attach terms and conditions to the invite, like they are not transferable, and only a limited number of tickets are available.
The nature of Facebook is about sharing information. If you see something you like, it’s incredibly easy to share that information with all of your friends. There is no way to really control it, and nor would you want to–the name of the game is to get the word out to as many people as possible.
So, the answer to your question, Kevin, is this:
If you get an invitation on Facebook to come to an event, you should assume that you are being asked to buy a ticket to that event, unless the invitation specifically states otherwise. If you are getting opening night comps to that show, that invitation will probably come via snail mail or email, addressed specifically to you.
Thanks for your question!