Philippa Snare joined Facebook from Microsoft in early 2016, with responsibility for global business marketing across EMEA. It’s her job to ensure marketers and their agencies gain value from the Facebook platform, as well as to navigate clients through new advertising solutions when they’re thinking about their marketing planning and needs. We began by asking her where the focus of Facebook’s conversations with clients now was.
Snare: In the past, it has very much been about talking to them about Facebook, and how to advertise, and how to reach millions of highly engaged people through the platform.
It has now moved on to how to use Instagram as a platform to talk to people, how to use Atlas and our measurement platform to widen and increase the number of people that you can reach, and then, more recently, to looking at the creative platform itself—how to use video formats more effectively to engage people and move them on from just seeing an advert on Facebook to walking into a shop or going online to purchase goods and services.
It’s a very privileged position to be in when people understand and know your brand, but there is a lot of work to be done to help people get the best out of the platform. There are a number of different ad units and solutions that Facebook provides across lots of different products that people don’t necessarily know of or understand how to use in the way that works best for their business.
So if I’m a small business just starting up, there are solutions that will help me reach millions of people very quickly to ensure awareness. But if I’m a very established brand, there are also solutions to ensure I’m driving purchase and more performance to measure direct return on investment. It’s those levels of conversation we need to have to do a better job of helping people understand how to get the value out of Facebook.
CMO.com: What would you advise as the best approach to getting that value out of the platform?
Snare: We definitely focus on people first. Whether it’s B2B or B2C, it’s still people that do something with the communications you create, so it’s important to make it human—to understand who you’re talking to, what’s going to be of value to them, and then how to get that across to them in the simplest and quickest way so it feels valuable. So the audience is still the most critical for me.
What’s also tougher now is people’s attention span is smaller, and so it’s important to ensure they’re getting the information they need in the format that they are receptive to. It has become just as much a content dilemma as a creative dilemma. Does a post through instant messenger with some beautiful pictures get the same messages across as quickly as an email or an event? Of course, it does. It takes less than three seconds for you to recognise a picture and recall it, that’s all it takes.
CMO.com: Do you have a specific example of where a focus on audience has worked well for brands?
Snare: In the Middle East and Africa, we saw that the marketing industry would start advertising around Ramadan about one week before it started. They would recognise that “oh, look, this is what lots of consumers are doing,” and, therefore, this is the best time to get adverts out across lots of different platforms.
What we could see on Facebook was that people’s plans for Ramadan start about six weeks beforehand. That’s when people start planning what they’re going to wear, the meals they’re going to cook once the sun goes down, and lots of parties throughout that period. We also recognised they weren’t going to bed until three or four in the morning after they’d had meals with their families, so the times people were checking Facebook increased in the night.
Then we went to the market to share that with agencies and clients, and advise they should consider planning earlier for Ramadan, but also that people would be open to many different messages in the middle of the night, instead of when you’d normally plan and buy your adverts. We had some really good conversations and it gave us a dramatically different relationship with the agencies and some of the clients.
Nayomi is a great case in point here. It’s a high-end lingerie brand that was working closely with ad agency Vizeum to reach new customers and drive increased footfall during Ramadan. They spoke with their audience, and 70% of people said they relied on Facebook for gift ideas and 69% said they relied on Instagram. So they turned to social media to promote their brand. They saw search interest grow by 1,073% and sold more than 1.2 million items—a bra every five seconds!
CMO.com: Instagram has been a great success for many brands, especially those in the creative and luxury space. What’s holding back the others?
Snare: The perception of Instagram is that you have to create some very high-quality imagery, and we’ve done a really good job of showing what an amazing platform it is to share beautiful imagery. But there’s a concern among clients of “do we have to create another set of assets on top of the ones that we’re creating for all the other platforms?” And, if so, then that’s adding costs into the process they don’t want to incur.
There’s a sense that the bar is really high and you have to have beautiful pictures to even engage the audience, but that’s not accurate. There are some companies such as Chilly's Bottles and Trouva, as well as brands such as Rowntree and ASOS, creating these dynamic and unusual ads to make their product show up in a way customers want to see it, and then with a clear course of action—buttons on those ads that are going straight through to purchase.
What we need to focus on now is showing how you can still combine that with some good creativity and some fun stuff that will create action at the end of it.
CMO.com: Live video is something we’ve looked at recently on CMO.com. Are brands keen?
Snare: It would be safe to say we’re still quite early in our conversations around Live. One of the things we need to do is help people understand the value that they get out of the platform, and how many different solutions there are, and what each solution can do for a company. Live is one of the newer ones, but we have so many solutions. When we’re talking to people about it, it’s within the context of what the value is that Live offers the company and what outcomes it can deliver. Because what Live can deliver for a company is very different to what a Canvas ad or carousel ad can offer.
CMO.com: Coming back to your role as a B2B marketer within Facebook, how are you evolving the EMEA team and its capabilities to meet the business’s needs and those of your clients?
Snare: Facebook is in a very strong period of growth, so we’ve been growing the team significantly. We added marketing talent to Israel at the beginning of the year and have people covering Turkey and the Nordics. We’ve invested in more digital capabilities within the team, and, more recently, we’ve been looking at in-house video production.
CMO.com: How do you address the global versus local approach?
Snare: For the global business marketing function, we work on global themes together and then roll out the relevant themes that work across all markets. Then we work on local themes, to make sure that we’re adjusting to the needs of specific markets that might fall outside of that. In the U.K, for instance, we need to have consideration for Brexit and to talk to our clients about what it means for them; for the U.S, we need to be empathetic regarding the election. Great companies are able to balance both global and local conversations.
We need to be able to respond to events and ensure that we’re showing empathy and understanding to our clients in those circumstances. We have a good balance of a very globally run team and the local empowerment to make things relevant to the local countries when it’s important to do so.
That’s very much part of the Facebook culture and part of our product, it’s immediately relevant and, therefore, part of the way we operate as a team. People expect us to immediately reflect what’s going on in the world, and we try hard every day to be that good.