by Amadeus Finlay
By this point, the only living organisms that don’t know about Facebook live somewhere in a galaxy far, far away… and even they aren’t safe from the Zuckerberg juggernaut looming down on their doorstep. That is because Facebook is the most powerful, influential and complex form of communication ever to hit the universe (as we know it, at least), and it seems that nothing can move it. A difficult 18 months in 2016-2017 saw a raft of political scandals and personnel crises threaten to shake the platform to its core; but Facebook took the hit, dusted itself off and casually moved on. In fact, in the first quarter of 2018 alone, Facebook recorded $13.2 billion in revenue, a figure which represented a 42 percent increase, year over year. How’s that for a recovery story?
A very good one, that’s for sure, but also somewhat expected. Just like rats and pigeons, Facebook is everywhere, and the platform’s almighty clout influences each of the planet’s markets with equal, irresistible force. The tradeshow industry is no exception. In a 2015 survey conducted by FreemanXP and the Event Marketing Institute, 77 percent of respondents named Facebook as the most effective social media tool for pre-event promotion, with 55 percent identifying the platform as most effective for event reviews and post-show conversations. Facebook also ranked consistently #1 in the survey’s other studies.
And that’s because there is so much variation and flexibility to the platform. Not only can users post everything from links to images, polls and video, but with a built-in scheduling tool (including a full ad management dashboard), you don’t need to rely on third party providers such as Hootsuite to manage content. The platform also has a robust promoted media tool, known as “boosting,” that allows users to specify–and reach–their target audiences and geography with remarkable precision.
But there’s more. With Facebook Live, event marketers can stream an exclusive live broadcast from the floor, giving the real world feel for those who couldn’t make it. Or maybe you created a higher production video during the show and want the world to see after the fact? Not only can Facebook host video files up to one gigabyte in size, but the platform’s built-in auto-captioning function inserts subtitles so those with their sound turned off (the majority) can still benefit from the message. Upload the right bit of video content and your brand can be seen by thousands of people worldwide. Just like that.
All this oomph and innovation is made possible by the sheer size of the platform. At time of print, Facebook has approximately 2.27 billion monthly active users, a number that accounts for a little more than a third of the entire planet. 2.14 million of those users live in the U.S., with 83 percent being female and 79 percent of all users holding a college degree. This makes Facebook a prime platform for tradeshow and event-related content; the industry skews towards educated females, and since the platform is so closely tailored for the individual user, some strategic advertising (through the “boost” feature) is likely to hit the mark.
Of course, there are downsides. For one, Facebook has the rights to all images stored on its platform. Which means that the embarrassing photograph of you and Uncle Ron at last year’s Thanksgiving afterparty is up for grabs; so, keep an eye out on those highway billboards, you might just see something you posted online. On occasion, accounts do get shut down, but this is uncommon and usually with good reason. If anything, the most troubling impact of Facebook is the threat of addiction and the obsessive behaviors that come with it. Known as Facebook depression, the phenomenon is real and has been around for a while. In 2009, a comprehensive study compiled by the University of Guelph and York University found that increased Facebook use significantly predicts Facebook-related jealousy, a digital form of neuroticism. Everyone can be seen, everyone can see you, and that is a dangerous mixture when coupled with obsession.
Indeed, perhaps the limitation of Facebook is that there are no limitations, and while it doesn’t plan to go to Mars (yet), incredible features such as Facebook Watch (its very own rival to Netflix), and the power to see the New Oxford American Dictionary include “unfriend” within its hallowed sheets cannot be ignored. And like a dictionary, this article could go into the nitty gritty details, covering the tactical aspects of event pages and forums, nerding over nifty little tools such as back-scheduling, and extolling the impactful virtues of replacing a cover image with a video.
But I think you get the message.
This column originally appeared in the January/February issue of Exhibit City News, p. 22. For original layout, visit https://issuu.com/exhibitcitynews/docs/ecn_flipbook_janfeb2019web?e=16962537/66750078