Event planners take note: there’s a revolution brewing in social media, and drag queens are leading the charge.
The ruckus can be traced to Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's founder, who declared:
“You have one identity. The days of you having a different image for your work friends or co-workers and for the other people you know are probably coming to an end pretty quickly.”
Then, lest there be any doubt of his meaning, he added, “Having two identities for yourself is an example of a lack of integrity.”
The charge of “lack of integrity” has ruffled some feathered boas as well as some business suits, because it throws roadblocks up in front of people who want to create separations between the spheres of their life. For example, people who:
- Don't want work colleagues looking through their weekend photos
- Dress and behave differently when meeting with clients and attending events than they do at home
- Spare their friends and family from work talk
Facebook’s “Real Names” policy is the manifestation of this view: all users get one, and only one, account, and it must use their real name. In Facebook’s defense, it offers some important value: it's used as a means to cull accounts of anonymous bullies and other miscreants. If you're not ready to put your name to what you say, maybe you better not say it. But there are some unintended consequences.
Cue the drag queens.
Traditionally, drag queens adopt stage names and build Facebook pages to promote their alter egos. In September, Facebook suspended hundreds of these accounts after someone using the Secret app flagged them for being in violation of the real name policy. The L.G.B.T. population was outraged, taking Facebook to task in the media.
In the wake of Facebook's action, Ello.co, an invitation-only Facebook alternative that does not subscribe to the real names policy, saw new registrations leap to 40,000 per hour. Clearly this reaction was not limited to the L.G.B.T. segment of the social sphere. Everyone from artists to political dissidents and other at-risk users who wanted to network in relative privacy and anonymity checked out Ello in droves.
While Facebook later apologized for the way it enforced its policy, it insisted it would not back down from it.
What about conferences?
It's not just drag queens and their supporters looking for alternative ways to network. Business professionals, increasingly aware of the importance of controlling their online reputation, are creating niche communities where they create profiles tailored to specific events.
That's exactly why Laura Rednour, conference business manager for the American Association of Critical-Care Nurses (AACN), chose to create a private community for her conference attendees using Pathable.
“The Pathable community has proven to be such a powerful tool,” Rednour said. “We might never have gotten some of the nurses to sign up for a ‘social’ community. But we brought them in through the scheduling tool, and they discovered and loved the networking component. It's the best of both worlds.”
Pathable offers private, branded networking communities combined with mobile event apps for conferences. In addition to standard mobile app features like personalized agendas, private meeting scheduling, and exhibitor listings, Pathable allows attendees to create dedicated, professional profiles specifically for the event, allowing them to put their best foot forward. What this means is a single user can create multiple profiles: one for each conference he or she attends, keeping each mutually exclusive from the other.
“When Meeting Professionals International used Pathable at their World Education Congress, they also encouraged Facebook and LinkedIn group use,” explained Pathable C.E.O. Jordan Schwartz, “yet the Pathable community they created saw over 10 times the adoption that their Facebook event page saw. It’s telling.”
Facebook isn't going away any time soon, but for business professionals and conference attendees, it may be time to leave it at home.
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