As the world’s third-most visited website, you could say Facebook knows a thing or two about growing a business. And over the last few years, the multi-billion-dollar company has been paying that knowledge forward with a suite of free tools and training events for small and medium businesses (SMBs) called Boost with Facebook. The global initiative is designed to equip the 140 million business owners that leverage Facebook’s platform with the digital skills necessary to compete in today’s economy, while simultaneously elevating their communities. The idea: When small businesses grow and hire, the local economy benefits, too.
Many of Boost with Facebook’s offerings are digital, but free, in-person training events are also a critical component of the program (On Board Experiential handles). In 2019 alone, Facebook executed more than 200 training events of varying sizes around the globe. Generally full-day, conference-style experiences, Boost with Facebook events offer formal training sessions, one-on-one consultations with Facebook business experts, networking opportunities broken down by industry, iPad stations where attendees can take a deeper dive into topics they’re interested in, interactive elements like photo ops, partner activations and an opportunity to have a professional headshot taken. Phew. Still with us?
With so many moving parts to consider, we caught up with Janelle Mungo, manager-event marketing at Facebook, to get the inside scoop on how Boost with Facebook events unfold and how the brand keeps attendees engaged and informed. Following are six tips inspired by Boost with Facebook’s event strategy.
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Offer Content Tracks for All Skill Levels
New to Boost with Facebook events in 2019 were three educational tracks built for varying skill levels to ensure attendees could consume content at their own speed.
“One of the bigger learnings that we’ve had is in creating three different tracks— foundational, intermediate and advanced—as well as some all-level courses,” says Mungo. “We help guide the attendees, utilizing agenda courses and helping them figure out what their needs are. We try and position it so that they know what the classes are and what level they’re at.”
Offer Face-time with the Experts
Attendees arrive at Boost events with all kinds of questions about enhancing their businesses, making one-on-one consultations with Facebook business experts paramount to the success of the program.
“One of the things attendees value most is the interaction with actual Facebook employees,” says Mungo. “It’s not extremely technical, but with our audience it’s very, very important. We have employees on the ground at every event so that any attendee will walk away with all of their questions answered and able to really tackle growing their business.”
Bring in Partners That Make Sense
Each Boost event includes an on-site Partner Center featuring six brand partners per city. To ensure relevant and valuable interactions for attendees, Facebook strictly teams up with companies that integrate well with its platform.
“We have within that Partner Center folks who have been identified as what we consider Facebook marketing partners—people who can really integrate with the platform well so that it’s not kind of out of left field,” Mungo says. “They talk to the small businesses about the possibilities of using some other technology… We are not the expert in everything. So partners provide resources for some really robust business opportunities when they come here, and even answer questions outside of digital marketing.”
Invite Them into Your “Home”
To get SMBs prepared for major holiday business opportunities (think: Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday), Facebook in the fall opened up the doors to its offices in 17 cities on the same day to provide training and give attendees a taste of its culture.
“The holidays are a really important time for businesses to get ready, to prepare,” says Mungo. “So we created activations in our offices. We felt it’s important to open doors and bring people into our ‘home’ and provide them with that hospitality so that they could learn about this important time by also building the community.”
Find a Way to Engage Those Who Can’t Attend
During its global in-office Boost with Facebook activations, the brand wanted to ensure that SMBs who couldn’t make it in person were still reaping the benefits of the event and engaging with its platform. The solution? Facebook’s bread and butter: social media.
“We did a full-scale channel takeover across all of our Facebook and Instagram for Business platforms,” says Mungo. “We did 24hours of Stories. So we told the story starting in Singapore, ending all the way in California, about what we were doing, how we were activating. We were also posting informational content for Blueprint (Facebook’s free e-learning program) onto LinkedIn, and we had some posts on Twitter. We really wanted to make sure that if someone wasn’t able to come into our office, they were able to experience the event digitally.”
It might sound counter-intuitive, but a key part of Boost with Facebook’s success in 2019 was creating product-agnostic events that were easier for attendees to digest. The idea was to create an event around the SMBs’ goals, rather than centering it on what Facebook wanted attendees to know.
“For our activations this year, we decided to make them product-agnostic and make it very much in the voice of an SMB. The company owns and integrates with many different products and platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger. They’re all amazing products, but a small business might not necessarily understand why all of them are in one space, and maybe not even that we own all of them,” Mungo says. “So as opposed to having booths highlighting each product individually, we created the activations around what is the goal of an SMB and how do all of these products work together. For instance, we made a booth that is all about selling goods and commerce, and instead of it just being about Instagram for Business, it’s all about how do Facebook ads, Instagram ads and Instagram shopping all integrate for a small business to really drive their sales… It has been a really amazing learning and something that we’ll definitely take into next year.”