A couple of weeks ago Facebook caused uproar by confirming, then denying and then confirming (but it was only a test) the use of location data to recommend friends.

Basically, people freaked out. I was nonplussed.

Wherever you stand on the privacy intrusions of location data, you have to admit the ‘People you may know’ feature on Facebook is fricking powerful.

The algorithm that recommends friends based on the mutual friends, workplace, education and networks you’re associated with is uncannily accurate. And it’s this type of technology that makes the digital world massively interconnected and changes the rules of engagement.

The universally accepted six degrees of separation from any other person on the planet was proved to be correct by Microsoft researches about ten years ago but last month, the Facebook scientists found that its 1.6 billion users were just 3.46 degrees away from each other.

The distance between us is getting smaller.

Taking it offline I would hazard a guess that the degree of separation between an exhibitor and a visitor in an exhibition hall, particularly in tradeshows, would be somewhere between one and two.

With such a low ratio it makes you think that the exhibition industry is in prime position to improve and enhance the exhibitor and visitor exchange but I’ve lost count of the systems I have seen try to do it; calendar appointments, meeting requests, stand bookings and then of course all the apps with all their modules.

Could you imagine what it would look like if Zuckerberg decided to go into the world of exhibitions and use his recommended friends’ algorithm?

You know he would be tempting exhibitors to sign up beforehand with the possibility of meeting visitors online before the doors open, but we all do that. The difference is, he would be maxing out the connection between the two

And you know that he would be looking to facilitate on stand meetings between exhibitors and visitors during the show, but we all do that. The difference is that he would have lined up data that would push meetings that didn’t occur.

And you know that he would still be recommending certain visitors profiles to exhibitors after the show based on an algorithm that pulls in data from registration, web activity, lead capture and location data. But we all….actually no we don’t all do that. But what if we did? Well it would be a coin earner for sure.

At Facebook the algorithm constantly evolves and the ingredients are being tweaked based on activity and outcomes between users and this would be incredibly powerful if it were applied to the exhibition world.

It would not only help push the elements of exhibitor exchanges and meetings and digital features and sponsor campaigns but we would also gain greater insight to the data sets we all hold.

The best bit about Zuckerberg’s algorithm is that it has a built in element of randomness that plays to the exhibition industry’s greatest strength – serendipity.

But even serendipity needs a hand.


Exhibitor Smarts is a specialist exhibitor agency working alongside organisers and suppliers to maximise exhibitor revenue and performance.

We also work directly with exhibitors saving more than 30% off their investments.
Email: jim@exhibitorsmarts.com

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