There are plenty of questions looming over the major political parties in the U.S. during the 2016 election season, but one piece of their respective conventions is in place: Facebook will play a major role in the democratic process. Erin Egan, Facebook’s Vice President of U.S. Public Policy, announced that the social media giant will sponsor the Republican event in Cleveland and the Democratic gathering in Philadelphia.
“Facebook will support both the Republican and Democratic conventions in a similar manner and without endorsing any one candidate, issue or political party,” Egan said. “This support allows Facebook to facilitate an open dialogue among voters, candidates and elected officials during the conventions, just as it has during other critical moments in the U.S. elections and in elections around the world.”
There is no word on the exact details of the sponsorship, but according to Mashable, there will be a branded “Facebook Lounge” on-site. It also seems likely that Facebook will encourage attendees to use its Facebook Live feature to engage the members of their respective communities. There is a clear, huge benefit for Facebook: as more people follow the moves of delegates and speeches from leading political figures, Facebook has a chance to emerge as a go-to breaking news source while fueling an important conversation around the future of the country.
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Potential Pitfalls Of Sponsorship Dollars
But being a sponsor can come with big challenges, too. Despite Egan’s pledge to play an unbiased role, the media frenzy around Donald Trump — the GOP’s unlikely presumptive nominee — is leading to headlines that show the issues that can plague sponsors. “Facebook Sponsors Donald Trump At GOP Convention” reads one leading tech blog. The claim is incorrect; Facebook is not sponsoring Donald Trump or any particular candidate. However, in what is proving to be the most controversial Presidential election in my lifetime, it may be difficult for Facebook to distance itself from this kind of news. In an interview with The Guardian, Murshed Zaheed, Political Director of social change network CREDO, called attention to the potential battle for Facebook in the eyes of some users. “It simply isn’t possible for Facebook to financially support a Trump-led Republican convention without associating its brand with Donald Trump’s hateful rhetoric,” Zaheed said.
The majority of conference and meeting organizers aren’t dealing with the glaring spotlight of politics, but their sponsors must regularly balance the opportunity to connect with a large audience with drawbacks from being associated with someone or something that might frustrate customers or employees. It’s not simply a question of measuring ROI; it’s also about calculating any negative impact, too.
You may not be able to secure Facebook for your next face-to-face event, but you can take strides toward welcoming more revenue from more organizations. Check out “5 Tips To Strengthen Your Sponsorship Program.”