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Event leadership | 5 June 2019

10 Imaginative Events and Conferences from Facebook

Bianca Galvez

Capture the hearts and minds of your attendees with 10 event ideas straight from Facebook. Learn how Facebook uses experiential marketing to produce impactful events that deepen connections.

For the last fifteen years, Facebook has grown from a disruptive social networking service to a global tech brand. One-to-one and one-to-many interactions are essential for Facebook’s ability to cultivate and engage their 2.38 billion monthly active users. Facebook has aligned its core company mission, products, and global events strategy to deliver a consistent message to its users and developer communities.

Facebook’s publicly espoused mission is to bring the world closer together and enable users to connect, discover, create, and ultimately solve problems they care about. In a recent interview, Sheryl Sandberg talked with Fidji Simo, the new head of Facebook App, who emphasized Facebook’s product strategy as putting communities at the center of their products. This mobile product philosophy is also consistently and creatively executed in Facebook’s event success strategy.

Let’s take a look at 10 examples of how community building has come to life in Facebook’s diverse portfolio of events.

10 Imaginative Events from Facebook

1. F8

F8 - Facebook EventsSource: Facebook

Facebook’s flagship developer conference, F8, started almost 10 years ago as an 8-hour hackathon for developers. It has ballooned to a global, two-day event packed with product demonstrations, break out sessions, networking opportunities, and after parties that showcase all the ways social technologies bring communities together. This year, F8 kicked off in San Jose, California with over 4,000 attendees and highlighted Facebook’s commitment to bringing together communities.

Key Takeaways: Even major events from influential brands can have humble beginnings. A single hackathon can evolve into an expansive developer conference that draws attention from your users, customers, peers, and major press outlets. During the nascent stages of your event, focus on nurturing your target audience year over year with relevant and compelling content that resonates and gets them excited. As the operations of your event become more sophisticated, you’ll be able to tap into a passionate group of brand advocates.

2. Oculus Connect 

Oculus Connect is Facebook’s developer conference celebrating virtual reality and the possibilities of connecting and communicating through new mediums. During the conference, Facebook unveiled product releases and inspiring talks to encourage developers and studios to build content for their Oculus ecosystem. Facebook also announced an aggressive goal of 1 billion VR users over time.

While Oculus Connect is still in its early stages, the conference attracts developers, VR enthusiasts, students, and faculty members in an immersive and educational experience including keynotes, panels, and workshops. Topics of interest include gaming, entertainment, art, inclusion, and all forms of content that can be experienced through VR. Facebook also provides funding and networking opportunities for developers and closes the conference with evening events and meals.

Key Takeaways: Ultimately, the biggest challenge for brands introducing new technology is customer adoption. Facebook has enabled a strategy to “cross the chasm” of early adopters into mainstream consumers by leveraging events that educate, connect, and fund their target audience of both developers and customers. Events like Oculus Connect present an exciting strategy to build momentum around what Facebook calls, “the bleeding edge of innovation.”

3. FbStart

Source: Facebook

FbStart is a mobile app accelerator program introduced back in 2014. FbStart was founded with the belief that no great idea should be left behind. The program provides resources, mentorship, and funding opportunities to help ideas germinate and grow. To forward this vision, FbStart partnered with global incubators and brands to deliver FbStart Accelerator Roadshows aggregating all the necessary components of success like education, feedback, mentorship, and funding in tech hotbeds across the globe.

Amazing results have come out of the program including hundreds and thousands of dollars fueling new startups in Africa, South East Asia, Latin America, the Middle East, and Europe.

Key Takeaways: Facebook has invested heavily in building its app ecosystem through programs like FbStart Accelerator Roadshows. For B2B event marketers, this example shows that investing generous resources into your larger developer community can have an incredible impact not only on the number of outside developers engaging with your product but also brand awareness around core company values like community, inclusion, and philanthropy.

4. Women in Product Conference 

Women in Product originally started as a series of dinners for product management leaders sponsored by Facebook employees. This dinner series eventually evolved into a 501(c)(3) non-profit with chapters across the US, Canada, and Asia. The non-profit culminates in an annual conference that was recently hosted in Burlingame, California with over 2,000 product managers in attendance. The conference attracts an impressive roster of speakers from companies like LinkedIn, Workaday, Youtube, major academic institutions and includes a diverse list of career talks, breakout sessions, and panels. Ultimately, it is laser-focused on current challenges in product and forwards a mission of bringing more women into product management and technical roles.

Key Takeaways: The focus of Women in Product is connection, career growth, and education. Last year, Forbes reported only 26% to 43% of female employees make up the workforce in major tech companies while a significantly smaller number of those employees hold technical roles. Attracting and fostering talent through events is a great way to build career paths and foster a healthy, encouraging workplace environment where employees and industry experts alike can grow and feel empowered.

5. Developer Circles

In the run up to the 2018 F8 Conference, Facebook announced they would host viewing events through a network of meetups called Developer Circles. These regional groups would live stream the F8 keynotes and connect developers looking to learn about Facebook’s products and technology. Developer Circles were a success during the 2018 F8 Conference with over 70 Circles live streaming F8 around the world. This was just another example of how Facebook events forward their larger themes of connection, community, and innovation.

Key Takeaways: Live streaming events are a great way to access a broader network of potential attendees. Facebook’s Developer Circles add another layer of continuing engagement with conference goers and conference aficionados outside the typical conference environment.

6. Miley Cyrus for the #MoreTogether Campaign

More Together Campaign - Facebook Events

Source: Twitter

The recent #MoreTogether campaign highlights the launch of Facebook Groups, a feature allowing Facebook users to come together over shared interests. To celebrate the new feature, Facebook released television spots, digital advertising, print advertising, and a partnership with Miley Cyrus to give a surprise performance at Beale Street Music Festival in Memphis, Tennessee.

Key Takeaways: Influencer partnerships are a great way to get brand recognition at events that are directly or indirectly related to your products or brand. By partnering with a strategic influencer, Facebook was able to collaborate with Miley Cyrus and connect with a specific group of people who are passionate about music. Through a highly effective social media campaign, Facebook created a targeted product launch in one of the longest running music festivals in the US.

7. Flow by Workplace

Workplace is Facebook’s B2B collaboration and communication tool. Flow is Facebook’s executive summit that brings together leaders and executives across Facebook and its customer base to discuss key operational topics like building great teams, fostering collaboration, and building change inside an organization. Facebook carefully curates subjects that are top of mind for executives. From the most recent Flow by Workplace, Facebook included topics on How to build a SaaS Unicorn, best practices for Workplace deployments, and building purposeful communities.

Key Takeaways: No matter the event type, always know your audience. Facebook’s executive summit curated topics and speakers directly related to the interests of their Workplace users. The summit gave customers and prospective customers a valuable medium for innovative ideas and leadership strategies.

8. Transform by Workplace

Following the theme of building communities across the globe, Facebook introduced hyper local Workplace user events called Transform. Transform is Facebook’s networking event for Chief Workplace Officers to share experiences and best practices on how to better communicate both internally and across different teams. Transform has chapters in major cities like London, Paris, Stockholm, Sydney, Singapore, Mumbai, Sao Paulo, Mexico, New York, and of course Menlo Park.

Key Takeaway: A B2B event marketing strategy that engages leaders across cities and continents brings a sense of strong community. Rather than taking to the keynote stage, Facebook spotlights customers and prospects and encourages them to discuss best practices, cultivate new ideas, and keep each other accountable on their larger company goals.

9. Facebook Gaming at Game Developers Conference

Game Developers Conference Campaign - Facebook Events

Source: Game Developers Conference Press Kit

Gamers are a core group of Facebook users. To cultivate Facebook gamers, creators, and developers, Facebook delivered an experiential marketing campaign by sponsoring a booth at the latest Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. Facebook packed their booth and lobby space with Oculus VR demos, tournaments, coffee, swag, and had team members participating on key panel discussions and workshops. The experience offered gamers and game developers a chance to engage and learn more about Facebook’s latest Oculus products.

Key Takeaway: While hosted events are a great way to unlock event ROI, sponsored events are still relevant for being top of mind for your customers. Facebook and its Oculus Team prepared an extensive amount of content, learning, networking, and demo opportunities during a strategic industry event to maintain brand visibility.

10. Global Safety & Well-Being Summit

Global Safety Summit - Facebook EventsSource: Facebook Newsroom

In the last three years, Facebook has held an annual summit on Global Safety & Well Being. The summit brings together 100 organizations from 40 countries to discuss how to protect communities when coming together online. In 2019, the Global Safety & Well-Being summit focused on topics like suicide prevention, bullying, and raising families in a complex digital era. These conversations help Facebook developers understand the larger impact the products they develop have on local communities and help sharpen Facebook’s approach to designing products with safety in mind.

Key Takeaways: It’s true that great power brings even greater responsibilities. Through the Global Safety and Well-Being Summit, Facebook has committed to addressing feedback from experts to help make technology safer. This includes approaching new product design with stringent processes that drive innovation. The Global Safety and Well-Being Summit example shows event marketers how events enable companies to embrace feedback in an actionable way while also building out a positive event brand.

Wrapping Up: Main Takeaways From Facebook

Facebook prides itself on delivering innovative experiences. Facebook engineers successful products and events by aligning them with its company mission and cultural values. Event marketers seeking inspiration from Facebook should consider the following three steps when debating which types of events to utilize:

  • Seek alignment of your company’s mission, product, and events to deliver a consistent message to your customers. Facebook communicates a consistent message across channels resulting in deeper connections with different types of customers.
  • Focus on corporate event ideas that attract the most valuable customers. Facebook invests heavily in its developers and technical communities to help them grow, collaborate, and connect in profoundly meaningful and actionable ways.
  • Leverage an event strategy that requires both highly visible conferences as well as intimate and targeted roadshows that strengthen local customer communities. Nurture relationships through large scale conferences like F8 and Oculus Connect as well as one-to-one interactions prevalent in roadshows and workshops to allow attendees and customers multiple ways to interact with your brand.

As we move into the 2020s it’s clear that event marketing will take more and more of a significant role driving businesses forward.

Curious about how other event marketers are approaching their event marketing strategy? Bizzabo recently surveyed 1,000 marketers at companies like Amazon, General Mills, and KPMG. Learn more about keeping up with the latest industry insights with our 2019 B2B Tech Benchmark and Trends Report.

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