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CES 2020: Social Media readies for the biggest tech show in the world

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Here’s a new article from cnet’s Queenie Wong talking about how social networks get a chance to highlight big partnerships and defend themselves. 

Las Vegas is playing host to CES once more. Kicking off on January 7, the show is so much more than showcasing the latest innovations in laptops, gadgets, and TVs: Facebook and Twitter are getting ready to shout about their developments, too.

This trade show hasn’t been a traditional haunt of social media companies, it’s generally a place for Samsung to show off its huge TVs and Intel it’s tiniest chips. However, over the years the likes of Twitter and Facebook have expanded out of social networking, with Facebook now owning Oculus – the VR headset manufacturer – and has the Portal video chatting device company too. Trying to break into the media player market, Twitter is now in partnership with sports leagues and players in the entertainment industry in a bid to increase live event chatter. 

The controversy is still haunting Twitter and Facebook, as worries about democracy, misinformation, and privacy risks won’t seem to go away the way they’d hope. The scandal of Cambridge Analytica harvesting data from 87 million unwitting Facebook users was one of the big stories of last year, with the scepter of abuse against women on Twitter coming under the microscope again this year. The hope seems to be that both companies can get some positive headlines for their respective solutions during their appearances at CES.

As well as some image rehabilitation, CES also presents the social networks to rub shoulders with new brands and clients and work on new partnerships. Since it’s a major event, running live, you’ll be able to watch how the businesses harness social media to get people talking about and sharing their latest releases. 

Queenie Wong has been looking at what the social media companies will have in store for us at CES 2020:

Facebook: defending their space

User privacy is at the forefront of most people’s minds when they reflect on Facebook as a business over the last couple of years. Cambridge Analytica was just one of many missteps.

At the tech show, Facebook is set to come face-to-face with one of their most outspoken critics: Apple’s Tim Cook. Cook, the CEO at Apple, has previously taken a swipe at Facebook for using targeting in their social media ads. This year’s show will be the first in 28 years that Apple has attended, and it just so happens to be the one Facebook will be at too.

The Chief Privacy Officer at Facebook, Erin Eagan, and Apple’s senior director of global privacy are both set to speak at the discussion “Chief Privacy Officer Roundtable: What Do Consumers Want?”. It’s scheduled for January 7 and the FTC Commissioner Rebecca Slaughter and Procter & Gamble Global Privacy Officer Susan Shook will also be in attendance.

Other panels that are slated for the conference will also have on them Facebook’s Privacy and Public Policy Manager Khaliah Barnes, VP of Global Marketing Carolyn Everson, Chief Marketing Officer Antonio Lucio, and Chief Diversity Officer Maxine Williams.

Although Virtual Reality seems to have lost its steam due to expensive kit that comes with annoying wires, Facebook is still going to be showing their Oculus headset, as well as their Portal video chat device. Oculus has seen recent price drops for their VR headsets, and there has been a drive to make them work even without fancy PC kit.

Facebook’s line of Portal video chat devices. James Martin/CNET

The Wynn Hotel is also playing host to Facebook, with them taking space to facilitate meetings with clients and partners, as well as setting up a privacy booth. It’s going to be along the lines the privacy pop-ups they’ve set up in the past, which will educate visitors about how to control their ad preferences and privacy tools.

Libra is also due to be part of the tech show this year – the cryptocurrency Facebook is working on with partners like Lyft and Spotify. There have been some bumps up to now in the development of Libra, with initial partners Visa, Mastercard, and PayPal all withdrawing from the scheme and leaving it with 21 members. The pull-out has shed some doubts about how successful it can be, and indeed if it’s viable at all.

“The Libra Effect” is a talk that will be given by Dante Disparte, the vice chairman and head of policy and communications for the Libra Association, on January 7.

Twitter: building partnerships

There may not be hardware or gadgets on the Twitter roster, but they have been working flat out to bring about changes to the way the platform works, particularly for live events.

There’s been a blanket ban on political advertising on the site, and it’s making a concerted effort to combat harassment and hate online. Features such as letting users hide replies and follow topics have been rolled out to support their objectives.

Head of Product at Twitter, Kayvon Beykpour, along with other execs from Twitter, will be giving a talk on January 8 about partnership content, their work with marketers, and the updates they have instore for the social network. 

One of the big announcements from Twitter at CES 2019 was their live streaming of parts of 20 NBA games. The scheme allows Twitter users to vote for a player for the camera to follow during the game, and Wong expects this project to continue. Head of content partnerships in the USA, Laura Froelich will be speaking on January 9 on the topic of “The future of streaming sports.”

As per their previous attendances at CES, Twitter will have a common space over at The Cosmopolitan so they can meet clients and brands. There has been talk of an “immersive experience” that will celebrate important moments in the previous twelve months. 

Like Facebook, Twitter meets with brands and partners during CES. Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET

Harnessing social media

The whole point of the show is for businesses to present their latest innovations in consumer tech and generate chatter over on social media.

An average of 5,000 tweets were generated each hour at CES 2019 and Instagram Stories were viewed more than 1.2million times. CES’s overseers at the Consumer Technology Association are reportedly expecting a strong social media performance again, according to Wong’s sources.

One of the most retweeted tweets of 2019’s CES was from the computer manufacturer Lenovo, so say the CTA. Lenovo harnessed Twitter during their appearance last year, creating an event-specific hashtag, sharing short videos, and using real-time Twitter data to engage with users who’d interacted with their and CES’s past hashtags.

Lenovo’s Kirsten Hamstra oversees their international social media presence: she released a statement saying that they will once again be working with Twitter at CES 2020 to interact on social media in real-time and promote their new products. TikTok is also in the sights of Lenovo, with targeting on that and other, newer platforms also being planned. 

Broadcasting live was a key driver of social media engagement and making waves in the last couple of years. Toyota’s live-streamed video from the CES floor in 2018 managed over 7 million views.

Not everything can be planned ahead at CES; the 2018 power cut in some of the convention halls attracted plenty of online chat and coverage at the time.

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Anna Dovbysh
With 7 years of writing experience and a deep interest in tech, innovations, and all things trending, Anna’s here to shine a light on the most interesting tech stories. Need to know which gadget to choose for your sports activities? Wondering how technology can improve your lifestyle? Want to know what to expect from Apple this year? She’s got all the answers. Subscribe to her posts and share your opinion on the matter!

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