Inflation caused by easiness
With easier access comes higher traffic and usage of tools. The democratisation of many luxury products lead by a cheaper production followed by easier access changed our society deeply. The most prominent example of that is GPS navigation or blogging as a way for everyone to publish anything any time. And we in the tech-creation sphere have always aimed to make everything easier for everyone Ease-of-use and lowering the barrier are classic goals and mission statements of tech companies. But lowering the barrier has it drawbacks, too: The inflation of the output value.
Let me move away from the blogging example, as what I am talking about only partly applies there. A great case to illustrate the high inflation in value, which comes with higher accessibility and ease-of-use is with event management: platforms like meetup.com made it a magnitude easier to set up, manage and market registrations for real life events. In the same way they made it easier to organise, they also made it easier for people to confirm. Too easy even, some argue.
As RSVPing takes almost no effort, the commitment behind that is equally low. Just think about it: when I receive a paper invitation to a wedding or party, where I am asked to RSVP by checking a box with a pen and mailing a paper letter, RSVPing takes quite an effort. So every answer is of high value - as these people were serious enough to take the effort to do it, they’ve also put thought into the act. This and calling people up, who haven’t RSVPed on time was all set in place to make sure one has enough food to feed everyone, who comes. And everyone, who ever organised this, knows more people come than RSVP’ed.
Quite different, if it is just a click away in an email. Our learning with the OpenTechSchool is that at a free workshop, we organise with tools like meetup.com 25-30% of people don’t show - on days with good weather up to 50%. And also didn’t bother updating their RSVP or give note in any other way. Even worse on events in Facebook, where a drop-out-rate for open, public, free events of 80% is more than common. Facebook made it so easy to RSVP “yes” (they even dropped the decline option in their UI in a recent update), that the value of such an RSVP is basically non-existent. Having RSVPed on Facebook doesn’t mean a thing. I assume this is related to the numbers they can actually measure and trying to optimise them: Facebook doesn’t know how many people actually show, just how many RSVPed. That’s the only thing they can measure and optimise for.
And that is the learning you should take out of this (aside from that you should overbook Facebook and meetup events): make sure you measure and optimise towards the right thing. Maybe the process could be easier. But maybe that also makes output less relevant or even destroys its value. Sometimes you want to processes to take effort to make sure their value is understood and the output stays relevant. That is why event-ticketing-services don’t have to fear Facebooks event tools. Facebook basically rendered RSVPs on their system value-less by making it too easy to RSVP.