Over the past several months, I’ve heard more or less the same goal reiterated by various Facebook employees and executives: The social network wants to be the place where you figure out what to do with your Saturday night.
Traditionally, Events on Facebook were private invites to birthday parties or holiday bashes, with a kegger or fundraiser thrown in for good measure.
Although those kinds of events have pretty much always been part of Facebook’s core experience, the company has vastly expanded its fun-finding capabilities over the last year.
Since 2014, the team working on Events has swelled from less than five to more than 50, and the number of recent product releases reflect that growth.
Facebook tweaked its News Feed and notification algorithms to show people more public gatherings that their friends were attending. Place Tips started appearing with recommendations based on your geographic location. The social network started letting you subscribe to events from certain Pages.
And now, most recently, Facebook launched a completely new experience for mobile where people in select big cities can browse by category as well as date and time to find interesting things going on in their areas:
Although this new Events experience, rolling out over the last few weeks, is only available to iPhone users right now, one can safely assume that it will make it to other smartphone operating systems and desktop users.
Facebook eventually wants people to start navigating to their Events tab on default when they’re trying to plan their Saturday evening.
Why all the new focus?
As Events product manager Aditya Koolwal explained it to me earlier this year, Facebook’s goal is to “help people spend more time together in the real world.”
But altruistic goals aside, an emphasis on events has business potential for the company, too.
Facebook has also made a huge push this year to make the platform more useful for business large and small. People planning their social lives on Facebook and finding out about local happenings like concerts, bar crawls, and art openings is great for the businesses holding them.
If finding events on Facebook becomes routine for users, businesses will have more incentive to pay to boost posts about their own events onto users’ News Feeds.
Or, as people get acclimated to checking their Events tab on Facebook for discovery, organizers and businesses could pay to have an event appear at the top.
Facebook’s made some progress to their “Saturday night plans” ambitions in 2015, so it will be interesting to see how the company continues to push that narrative forward next year.