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 page / site to help in the planning of their reunions. 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," at no cost, 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 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 unrealistically high estimate of the attendance.
At the same time, committees tend to think that if a classmate isn't on FB, then he or she is unlikely to attend the reunion. Not true at all. Many "non-Facebookers" are interested in a "real reunion." It's just that, for whatever reasons, they aren't that interested in Facebook.
To compound the problem, the committee will schedule the reunion for Saturday night - when prices for venues are at their highest - and set an admission price that will turn people off. In addition, it's possible 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 can be dull and anticlimactic.
In the Facebook Age, there's no need for an icebreaker 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. They don't need to come to the reunion to re-establish contact with each other, like they did pre-Facebook and social media.
So what's the solution? How can you have a well-attended reunion these days? 1) Utilize the positive aspects of Facebook. 2) Have a reasonable admission price - under $50 if at all possible. 3) Keep the event casual. 4) Locate a high percentage of the class by doing a thorough, person-by-person search that includes all of those not on FB. and 5) Don't be reluctant to have the reunion on a Friday night; it won't hurt the attendance (as we discuss on the Chalk Talk page).
At Class Act, we do all of these things. Come to think of it, that pretty much sums up why we're still in business and going strong.
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