Leveraging Facebook For Your Virtual Events

Updated: June 28, 2010

Share on Facebook

Allow virtual event registrants and attendees to "share the event" on Facebook, in the same way that users share a web site's movie review, restaurant listing or product listing. Facebook makes it simple to add "Share on Facebook" to your page - just a few lines of HTML code. To make virtual event sharing effective, the "shared items" should include:

  1. A simple and easy to understand title (Facebook grabs the "page title" from the virtual event page you're sharing)
  2. A suitably sized image (on Facebook, the "sharer" can choose among the images listed on the shared page)
  3. A hyperlink for interested users - so that you can drive additional registrations

If done right, 20 attendees might share your virtual event with their 200 Facebook friends - and you've just allowed your audience to promote your event (on your behalf) to 4,000 potential attendees (who otherwise would not have known about your event).

Facebook Live Stream Box

CBSSports.com used it for live streaming of NCAA March Madness - so did CNN.com for the live stream of President Obama's inauguration. As the name implies, Facebook's Live Stream Box is useful for the "streaming" of "live" events or occasions. The stream box provides an "Everyone Watching" tab - to submit a comment to that tab, users must authenticate to Facebook. Even if you don't have a Facebook account, you'll still be able to view the running commentary from "Everyone Watching".

Comments posted to the "Everyone Watching" tab (in the virtual event) also appear on the submitting user's Facebook Wall. Thus, participation in a Live Stream Box helps promote the virtual event - users' comments appear in the News Feed of their Facebook friends, which generates awareness of the virtual event.

Facebook members have the added benefit of a "Friends" tab, which allows users to view their Facebook News Feed, right there from the stream box. In a virtual event, the Live Stream Box can be placed in the Auditorium (where live sessions are broadcast), the Lounge (where visitors drop by to engage with one another) or Exhibitor Booths (where booth visitors can engage with the Exhibitor - and, one another).

Facebook Open Graph

Facebook's Open Graph API, announced in April 2010 at Facebook's F8 Developer Conference, takes things to the next level.

Now, users can go beyond sharing "the event" and be much more granular in what they "like" (recommend/share) in a virtual event. I may "like" a session, a virtual booth, a document, or even another user. And with the Open Graph, I need not share each and every "like", posting it to my Facebook Wall. Instead, the "likes" can be aggregated (e.g. by the virtual event platform).

Now, when I login to the virtual event, I may choose to view the activities (and likes) of Facebook friends who opted in to the sharing service. When I'm making a purchasing decision on a complex product or service, I can poll my Facebook friends to see who's in the same boat. If a former colleague attended a virtual trade show in the morning, I may login during the afternoon to view the sessions and exhibitor booths that she "liked".

Taken at a more granular level, I may choose to see the specific product collateral that she "liked" in the virtual event, or seek out the exhibitor representative that she chatted with and "liked". By leaning on those whom I trust, my journey through a virtual trade show just got more productive.

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