Insight and key takeaways from the first stop on Facebook’s 30-city tour
Is it just us, or does Facebook seem like quite the scandal these days?
If you haven’t been keeping tabs on trending topics surrounding this social media powerhouse, here’s what you’ve had the (ahem) pleasure of missing out on:
- Facebook cracking down on the rise of “fake news” outlets and articles
- A Russian Internet Research Agency reportedly acting as an election-influencer through the creation of various advertisements and groups
- A recent violation of trust involving our data and Cambridge Analytica
- Facebook coming under government scrutiny in the United States and the United Kingdom
- Noticeable stock market upsets
It’s probably safe to say that the Facebook community is currently in crisis-mode. As concerned questions and understandable backlash begin surfacing from the public and the mainstream media, Facebook is scrambling to pick up the pieces and re-earn the public’s trust.
No one wants to be told that they should assume their “public profiles have been scraped for information.” That’s an uncomfortable statement coming directly from Facebook’s head honcho himself, aka Mark Zuckerberg.
With Facebook cracking down on what they’re calling “malicious actors”, as well as bringing awareness about misinformation to the 126 million people (and counting) affected by the breach starting as early as Monday, we’re not quite sure of what long-term effects this will have.
Yet, not everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and #deletefacebook; most Facebook users have simply invested too much into the platform at this point to turn back.
From our point of view, the effect that new Facebook rules and regulations will have on small businesses in particular is one of concern.
In a recent interview with NPR, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg stated that, “Forty-two percent of the small businesses on Facebook in the U.S. are hiring because they're growing on Facebook. And that's creating the majority; small businesses create the majority of the job growth on Facebook. So the targeting — which we do in a privacy-safe way — is a big chunk of why small businesses are growing…”
If small businesses are apparently thriving via this social platform, then what is Facebook doing to help continue fostering such positive growth, especially during a time of uncomfortable uncertainty?
The answer: Community Boost events, Facebook’s most recent endeavor to host workshops, panels and courses around every feature or program available on the platform. All you have to do is register – and it’s completely free to attend.
The Community Boost event in St. Louis that we attended in late March was a hop, skip and brisk walk away from the Arch, the first stop on their 30-city tour. It’s an effort that’s managed to slip under the radar of the mainstream media due to more pressing scandals; however, it reveals our first key takeaway:
Key takeaway #1: Facebook still strives to do some good for the communities it serves.
It’s indeed likely that Facebook didn’t anticipate coming under the media’s fire when they planned this tour, but perhaps it can be used as a tool for damage control in the coming weeks.
If you’re a company, brand or business that advertises frequently via Facebook or Instagram, you probably weren’t blown away by the content of the workshops. But it’s still a great refresher for the savvy social media folks out there. Plus, free professional headshots for your profile, free snacks and coffee all day and a free lunch? Yep, we were not expecting that.
On the other hand, if you’re a small business owner or aspiring entrepreneur and Facebook is not your forte, these events are exactly what you may not even know you desperately need.
Prior to a session called, “Taking Facebook Ads to the Next Level,” I struck up a conversation with a small business owner sitting next to me. Her name was Christina and she was looking every bit of professional in a polka dot ensemble that resembled my own. She and her husband own a residential and commercial cleaning business in St. Louis. As a side project, she opened a resale shop in Granite City at a weekly flea market with the hopes of one day having a brick and mortar location.
Christina’s current method of advertising? Word of mouth.
While word of mouth is a powerful thing, (honest recommendations are the greatest) Christina couldn’t seem to lift their business out of the friends-and-family-are-our-only-customers slump. Which brings us back to Community Boost; she wanted to learn how to manage her page, create ads and reach new customers to grow her business. She also wasn’t expecting a free lunch, so we bonded over our genuine delight for turkey croissant sandwiches.
Key takeaway #2: Facebook recognizes the power of small businesses who advertise and they know exactly how to cater to them.
If Facebook wasn’t accessible to small business owners like Christina, these events wouldn’t be very valuable at all. Facebook’s current business model revolves around profiting from ads in order to keep their service free for the end user. Without advertising from small businesses like Christina’s, Facebook wouldn’t make nearly as much dough.
But thanks to the Community Boost events, Christina is now well-versed in the language of Facebook and hopefully is comfortable with how to advertise her business.
Key takeaway #3: From content to event execution, Facebook is all about accessibility.
From the content presented in the sessions, to every individual aspect of the event’s execution, Facebook’s efforts to keep the event inclusive and accessible get a nod from us.
Lighting (hello, generous blue up-lighting), audio and visuals ensured that the speakers could easily be seen, heard and understood from any point in the room. There were emoji-reaction buttons to get quick attendee feedback, and additional IPad surveys for a more extensive review. At the back of the main presentation room were several knowledge bars where you could ask trained staff any variety of questions one-on-one.
The event was executed so well that most of us were shocked after a speaker revealed that St. Louis was the first city on their schedule.
The Community Boost events are one-of-a-kind and a great way to engage local businesses by encouraging them to use the arsenal of Facebook’s tools. What other advertising channels have hosted events and workshops with a registration fee of zero dollars and a complimentary lunch? None that we know of.