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Facebook Bluetooth Beacons trigger information from your Facebook page directly into your attendee’s news feed. Here’s what event venues and planners need to know.
Worldwide, there are over 1.65 billion monthly active Facebook users, which is a 15 percent increase year over year. Over a billion of them log in every single day. (Source: Facebook, April 2016). Facebook is here to stay and cannot be ignored. So how can you take advantage of this captive audience?
The Basics - Facebook Place Tips
Facebook Place Tips allows people to connect with the places and businesses they visit by pushing information to the top of their news feed. Businesses can write a customizable welcome note and use it to promote items or share facts and tips. It gathers other information, such as check-ins from your Facebook friends, posts from the page, upcoming events, friends’ recommendations, photos and reviews. While you are in the business location it gives this information priority over the rest of your feed..
Place Tips features are explained in this short video:
What is a Facebook Bluetooth Beacon?
Facebook launched Bluetooth Beacons in January 2015 to support the Place Tips feature. Place Tips can work without a beacon, using cell tower, WiFi and GPS location data, however Bluetooth Beacons are fixed transmitters placed at the business location that are more reliable at pinpointing the precise location of the visitor. Facebook beacons are easy to set-up and have a 2-year battery life.
To work the beacon requires Bluetooth to be enabled on the user’s mobile device, then the Facebook Bluetooth Beacon detects when a Facebook user is within a 100 foot range and triggers tips at the top of the user’s news feed as soon as the Facebook app is opened. This enables unique messaging to the user based on a mix of friends’ recommendations, check-ins, events and page posts.
How Can I Get One?
As of June 2016, Facebook Bluetooth Beacons are available for free to selected businesses across the US. Initially set up for trial at very limited venues in New York, it expanded to the rest of the USA in June 2015.
While Facebook has been targeting mostly retail-related sectors to offer promotion opportunities, the Metropolitan Museum of Art has been among the first to implement the Facebook beacon technology by diverting its initial purpose and using it to enhance its exhibitions.
The Potential of Facebook Beacons
Although beacon technology has been available for events for several years, via event mobile apps, many planners haven’t explored this fully yet. The huge advantage of using Facebook Bluetooth Beacons is that with 989 million mobile daily active users in the world, you can be certain that the majority of your attendees will already have the Facebook App installed and many will check it whilst on the premises. Mobile usage of the Facebook mobile app is grew by 21% in the last year alone.
Things to Consider
Facebook have reassured that the information sharing is one-way only, pushing information towards the Facebook App, it does not collect any information from the user’s mobile device, other than what it is already authorized to send. Users can also chose to have the Place Tips setting switched to off if they prefer not to be marketed to in this way.
Facebook users will only receive Place Tips if they have enabled location services AND Bluetooth on their mobile devices. Considering the serious battery drain from Bluetooth, many people don’t have this permanently enabled, however with the rise in popularity of fitness and smart watches (which sometimes use bluetooth to sync information) this may be starting to change.
The location of the page needs to be set before ordering a beacon and the beacon will only work at that specific registered address. Unfortunately it is not possible to temporarily update the page address to a transient event location and they are only designed to be active at one place. If you try to set up the beacon elsewhere Facebook will turn off Place Tips for the page. This means that this is only suitable for venues and planners that hold events at their business location.
How Can You Use This Opportunity for Events?
This is a great opportunity for venues in particular to apply to set up Facebook Beacons. It is a great way for a venue to promote all forthcoming public events at the venue and the information can be tailored each day to a specific event happening at the venue to give them prominence on the live event days. Venue marketing teams should be taking advantage of this to help the event planners using their spaces. Perhaps some brave venues will even allow a “takeover” of the Facebook account. Here are 5 ways they can be used.
The most obvious use of Facebook Bluetooth Beacons is to give attendees easy access to useful venue information they may need when attending your event, such as public transport information, access times, which entrance visitors should use, venue layout, parking information, where the cloakrooms are located and so forth.
If information on the page is updated on the day of the event it can give prominence to information such as event programme or stage times, speaker, sponsor or performer profiles, and other real time alerts. By customizing the welcome message it can include last minute information, making it easy to communicate changes.
While Facebook is meant to connect you to the world, Facebook Place Tips is meant to connect you to the world around you. By showcasing friends’ check-ins, photos and recommendations at the same place, participants can easily find out who, among their acquaintances is attending the same event. They can also make meaningful connections by exploring engagement from other attendees on the page. Use this to your advantage by creating networking lounges throughout your event for participants to meet easily.
Bring some fun into the event with contests that encourage social sharing. Facebook Bluetooth Beacons will bring up photos taken at the venue. Encourage guests to join in by creating photo opportunities within your event that they want to share - crazy backdrops, photo opportunities with celebrities, out of the ordinary experiences. Encourage people to engage by displaying a social wall, photo feed or leaderboard. Perhaps you could introduce a reward program if visitors achieve a certain number of actions linked to your page (such as ‘Like’ the page, post a photo, check-in and share a status update tagging the event and venue Facebook page) or organize a scavenger hunt throughout your event!
Seize the moment and start discussions on the Facebook Page to spark reactions and encourage the exchange of knowledge and connections of those with shared interests and passions. If you can encourage people to participate whilst they are at the event they are more likely to continue engaging after the event is over. This will also represent another source of content and information sharing for your event and might help you discover new talent or ideas for your next one.
Special deals and offers can be listed to encourage guests to take immediate action. You may want to give your sponsors the opportunity to take advantage of this by promoting time limited offers for those attending the event to take advantage of, such as a discount for people visiting an exhibitor or a giveaway for anyone signing up at the event.
Make sure to include a note about your Facebook Bluetooth Beacons within your event signage and consider providing your attendees with phone charging stations throughout your event to keep them connected. Brief your staff, speakers, sponsors and exhibitors about the system and how they should invite participants to take advantage of it. And encourage them to get involved too so people can see there is a lot of activity on Facebook.
Using Facebook Bluetooth Beacons and Place Tips is a fantastic opportunity to unite your attendees and to continue the positive event vibe after everything is over. Create as much repurposable content as possible during the event to keep a busy page feed and encourage people to keep checking back.
How Do I Get A Facebook Beacon?
This is where you can request a free beacon for your Facebook page. It has been observed that Facebook will often select pages that are already active and successful, so make sure to set up, activate and regularly populate your Facebook page beforehand. You can order several Beacons for the same page, which would prove to be very useful for within a large venue. Install the beacons at strategic places and don’t forget to place signage nearby to invite attendees to connect to Facebook.
Facebook Bluetooth Beacons are an exciting opportunity which event venues need to take advantage of to benefit themselves and the event professionals using their spaces. If you have a ‘worthy’ Facebook Page and can get your hands on a beacon it will in turn encourage more fresh content and interaction with your page and will keep everyone interested.