Just as Facebook has had a profound effect on society, so too is its impact on high school reunions.
Some of it is positive, but unfortunately much of it is negative.
Nowadays most classes will set up a Facebook site to help in the planning of their reunion. It's a good way to let people know the details of the reunion, and to give them an outlet to communicate with friends and fellow classmates in the weeks and months beforehand. It can help to build interest in the reunion.
But...the problem is this: It rarely boosts the attendance. In fact, the vast majority of the members of the Facebook site for a class will not attend the reunion. They're content to have an "online reunion" and don't feel the need to spend time and money to attend an actual get-together.
We've come to understand this reality. But groups who opt to handle their reunions on their own often don't. They think that if their Facebook site has, for example, 200 members, then most will attend the reunion - and many will bring a guest. That often leads to financial problems and considerable stress for the planning committee, which booked a venue based on an incorrect and unrealistic estimate of the attendance.
Also, committees tend to think that if a classmate isn't on FB, then he or she is unlikely to attend the reunion. Not true. Many non-Facebookers are interested in a "real reunion." But, for various reasons, they choose not to be on Facebook.
To compound the problem, the committee is apt to set an admission price that will turn people off - and they'll schedule the reunion for a Saturday night, when prices for venues are at their highest. But it's likely that either they or someone in the class will use FB to set up a free event, an "icebreaker," the night before.
That hurts the attendance Saturday night because, for a lot of people, the combination of being on Facebook and attending a class-wide event that's free is all the reuniting they want or need. So Saturday's gathering is likely to be dull and anticlimactic. That's because many of those who do attend will be tired from partying, then getting little sleep, the night before.
In the Facebook Age, there's no need for an icebreaker - or events on consecutive nights - because FB serves that purpose. People already know a lot about each other - what they do for a living, if they're single or married, how many kids they have, etc.
So what's the solution? How can you have a well-attended reunion these days? Utilize the positive aspects of Facebook. Have a reasonable admission price - as close to $40 as possible. Keep the reunion casual. Locate a high percentage of the class by doing a thorough, person-by-person search that includes all of those not on FB. And don't be reluctant to have the reunion on a Friday night.
At Class Act, we do all five. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up why we're still going strong.
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