Facebook simplifies event creation, makes event pages more like groups

Facebook updated its event creation flow so that fewer fields are required to make a new event. Posts on an event page Wall are now sorted by activity, as they are in groups, so posts get pushed to the top of the page when they receive comments.

These changes and others introduced today are meant to make Facebook’s event product more useful for planning casual get-togethers in addition to more formal events. For example, users no longer have to indicate a time and location for an event, allowing plans to be more fluid.

As the social network plateaus in new user growth, it must focus on maximizing engagement. The latest updates to events are smart improvements, but in order to really be useful in helping users meet up, Facebook will need to add to its mobile apps. Users cannot currently create events from the native iOS or Android apps, and the mobile touch site has not been updated to reflect today’s changes.

Events now support different timezones and include a new privacy option. Previously, events were either public (as in open to everyone on Facebook including non-friends) or invite-only. Now events can choose the “Friends” setting so any friend can see the event and join without requiring a user to manually invite each friend. When users invite friends, they’ll get a notification if the friend decides to join the event.

“I think this will feel more similar to inviting someone via SMS/email and getting back their response,” Facebook engineer Bob Baldwin said in a post about the changes.

When users decline an invitation, only the user who invited them will get a notification. Additionally, posts from people who decline will be filtered out of the Wall and accessed from a “View Declines” link instead. This keeps the focus on the people who will attend. Previously it was common for some event pages to be filled with comments from people who couldn’t make it.

The event page now also includes the option to ask a question. This could be helpful for users trying to decide on event details. Event pages also suggest additional people to invite, as we first spotted last month.

A few months ago we saw Facebook testing a “Make plans” option in the homepage publisher — the area from which users create status updates and post photos. So far this hasn’t rolled out to all users, but after today’s improvements, this could be coming soon.