23 Jan Facebook Gather 2019
Facebook Gather 2019 conference
I was invited to a Facebook group last year run by Facebook itself for recognised founders and admins of Facebook community and business groups. This was an honour in itself, so imagine my delight when a few months later I received an invitation to go to an event in Dublin run by Facebook – all expenses paid!
I was one of 500 invited guests from 17 countries across Europe. An immense privilege and had to keep pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t a daydream! After the welcome drinks we returned to the hotel and I had a drink in the bar and got chatting to one of my long-time marketing coach heroines – Claire Mitchell of ‘The Girls Mean Business’ – felt even more chuffed to have been on the same guest list as Claire! She is as lovely and natural in real life as she comes across on her training courses and we had a long chat – I even got some good business tips from her, amazing!
Facebook Gather – The Big Day
They had us on a tight schedule on the main day of Gather, with a 7.40 am coach pick up from the hotel. Wasn’t complaining though! Facebook had hired out Croke Park which was a fantastic venue. The set up inside was similar to the last Facebook event I went to in November, Facebook Community Boost – with two floors dedicated to masterclasses and stands for Facebook and its partners with lots of staff on hand to answer questions.
The main stage
There were a selection of great speakers from Facebook and special guests who spoke to us about a range of topics from mobile first culture, augmented reality and predictions on Brexit to visual storytelling for your business. Then of course there was the keynote speaker, Facebook COO and Lean In author, Sheryl Sandberg herself. During the preceding speeches she’d been sat two rows in front of me with a large entourage but came across really humble. She spoke of some of the challenges Facebook has encountered in the last year or so, from the data privacy breach, to social media trolling and bullying (albeit not confined to Facebook in the social media world) and even how they are battling against ‘fake news.’
After a delicious lunch, we had a choice of eight classes and time to take four of them (back to back, quite tough on concentration levels but worth it). I chose a class on using stories in Instagram, because I know I need to do more stories but somehow always manage to forget. It’s the way both Facebook and Instagram are moving though for sure and so something I need to just make a higher priority.
I also went to classes on messenger (being more innovative when using it to communicate with clients and prospects), IGTV (an Instagram function that I definitely forget to use enough!) and planning successful Facebook Ad campaigns. Some classes were a little basic, but I definitely picked up some handy tips on creating stories and content for IGTV, as well as a few new Messenger and Facebook Ad tricks, so all good!
The day finished with a totally inspirational talk from Mark Pollock. Unbroken by blindness, Mark became the first blindperson to race to the South Pole. In 2010, he was left paralysed after falling from a second-story window and is now on a mission to cure paralysis in our lifetime.
He spoke to us about facing adversity, resilience, leadership, teamwork and collaboration. Moving stuff as well as immensely motivational. Makes me feel ashamed for the excuses I sometimes use for not getting stuff done!
After that it was time to go back to the hotel, relax a while and then get whisked off to the RDS concert hall. We were entertained by a fantastic band all night and treated to a generous free bar and some delicious food. Lots of dancing went on and we partied with the Facebook staff and some of the speakers (Sheryl had gone off to another event though, shame!) – what a day, what a night, what an event!