Interview With Sachin Rao, Country SMB Manager of Facebook India

Facebook recently just hit the 1 million advertisers milestone indicating that a lot of small and medium-sized businesses invest in Facebook. Which means, if you’re ignoring Facebook, you’re ignoring customers.

Facebook is focusing more on small and medium-sized businesses. It now aligns its ad products with a marketer’s business goals. An advertiser can come to Facebook and tell them what they are trying to achieve, and Facebook’s ads tools will automatically suggest the right combination of products to help them achieve it. Investing dedicated time and energy into Facebook can get great results for your business!

In this Interview, Sachin Rao, Country SMB Manager of Facebook India shares how Facebook can be a powerful platform for your marketing efforts.

How can Facebook be a powerful lead generator for Small businesses?Sachin Rao, Country SMB Manager of Facebook India

Build Targeted fan base

You start at the bottom and start developing your fan base based on the demographics and interests of your target segment. You need to build a fan base that is relevant to your brand

Run targeted Ads

There are different types of ads that Facebook offers. There is a page-like ad format, a page post ad format, a page post link ad, and the main ad. Multiple sets of ads help you reach different types of audiences.

Facebook works on all fronts, be it demand generation or demand fulfillment. If, in the traditional sense, you were to build brand equity or brand recall, the effort you would have had to make would have been phenomenal. But Facebook makes it easier for you with its targeted advertising and providing a two-way conversation platform.

Retain customers by engaging with them

Because of the platform, its targeting ability, and the ability to engage in a two-way conversation, they are able to get a successful business in no time. There are plenty of companies who have built their entire business on Facebook.

Let me give you a personal example. I am a big Royal Enfield fan and I sold my bike about a year ago. But I’m still connected to their page. As I come across their visually rich and engaging content I am now tempted to buy an Enfield again. It is all because of the affinity the brand has built with me through their Facebook Page.

Other forms of advertising don’t give you that conversational ability that can transform itself into social marketing success.

The user is ready, and we have ad formats that help businesses to convert. You just need to tap into the social connections to draw more business.

Using word of mouth for Lead Generation

All businesses leverage upon the customer experience through word of mouth. And Facebook is the only platform that can do it for you on a scale that no other platform can. In fact, in one of our surveys, 1 in 3 users said they made a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation.

Target Feature Phone Users

India has a huge market of feature phone users who use Internet. It can be concluded that feature phone users interact on a regular basis. With this information in mind, we launched an ad for feature phones. As an advertiser, you can target users of feature phones and reach out to them. In a market like India, if you look at the numbers, you will find that they suddenly change the magnitude for small businesses.

Target Global Users

Our rich targeting features allow businesses to find customers not only in India but also across the globe. For example, travel businesses can target people globally. If you want people from US or Europe to visit India and come to your destination in, say Ladakh, you can target them in a rich and targeted manner. If you know that 24-28 year olds from the US are more likely to visit Ladakh than 32 year olds from Europe, you can target that segment as well.

Can start small and control Budget

Today an advertiser can potentially start advertising for as low as $5 a day. You have the control over how much money you want to invest in ads. You can specify a limit and advertise around it. This sort of control is something most platforms don’t have.

What are the best ways small businesses can leverage graph search?

Graph search is all about leveraging social connections. You will need to begin with building a page., connect with your friends and ensure that you are having a rich engagement on the page.

If I want to visit a rock pub, I would look up my friends [on Facebook] who like rock pubs and have been to one and have engaged with a pub’s page. Now that kind of discovery is possible if you start building your presence, start acquiring the right kinds of fans, and ensure that you are engaging with them.

So build your page and fill in detailed information like your location, the kind of business that you are, the ‘About Us’ section etc. Ensure that you have captured everything about you in detail so that you become more receptive to search.

So having that page and building it with relevant information is going to be the first step. Then you have to work towards generating strong engagement that helps you amplify your message.

How influential are Facebook recommendations for SMBs?

60% of Facebook users who have been surveyed said, they are likely to purchase a product based on recommendation. 1 in 3 users made a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation. Word of mouth is still the most effective form of marketing. Today, the platform is built in such a way that you can create an effect on a massive scale.

Think of Facebook as a word of mouth megaphone for small businesses, and that is a great tool to have for a business of any size. Especially for small businesses, since you are able to do it in a cost effective way which no other platform can give you.

What can businesses do to become more mobile friendly? How is Facebook adapting to the emergence of Mobile technology?

Today Facebook can be accessed on different devices like tablets, mobile phones, feature phones, and desktops. So we make certain that the experience on your news feed doesn’t get diluted over different portals. You get the same experience on your mobile, desktop and tablet.

To target mobile users, you must run news feed ads like sponsored stories and promoted posts. You won’t be visible to mobile users if you use only the right sidebar ads. So using promoted posts and sponsored stories you can ensure that you’re visible in the news feed of mobile users. In fact, our ad options allow you to target only mobile users as well.

How should one encourage customers to check-in on Facebook at their business location?

The easiest way is to have signages in your stores encouraging them to check-in via Facebook. We even provide businesses with creatives of these signages that they can download, print and put in their stores.

You can also offer people a small discount when they check-in to your location. A lot of cafés and restaurants offer you a 10% discount when you check-in. The restaurants are getting are getting a good number of people checking in, thereby ensuring a connect to their page, while they are offering a simple 10% discount.

In what ways is Facebook assisting SMBs to drive business online?

Keep It Simple

The first step we took was to simplify the platform. Today, managing a page is as easy as managing your personal profile. It doesn’t require any figuring out. Right from your page, you can boost your post or start building your fan base. You can now optimize your ads for more likes or engagement, depending on what your objective is. We also have taken feedback from people and have decreased the number of ad formats and made them more crisper. Moreover, we have a Page Manager App that lets you manage your page from your iOS or Andriod device.

Start-To-Success Program

Facebook has recently launched a new program designed to help new advertisers get started on the platform. For those who need support, we provide a 28-day on boarding program that is useful, easy and effective.

This includes one-on-one support with a Facebook Marketing Expert who will take you through the fundamentals of marketing on Facebook including building a Page, growing your fan base and driving relevant engagement with your business.We also give ad credits during this period so that they can test the platform for its effectiveness. After the program, they are more empowered to use Facebook for driving their business.

You mentioned about the Start-to-Success program, how has that been received in India?

The Start-To-Success program is helping business owners identify what part of the platform they require to boost their business. The program is helping them understand about growing the fan base and building a community of customers and potential customers. It helps them understand how to build relationships with the fans, create brand recall and drive your business.

Also, we found that businesses that take up this program are more likely to find success on the platform. So it has been extremely successful and we will continue investing in this program to help business owners.

Can you share a success story where Facebook advertising has proven beneficial for small businesses?

I’ll give you the example of Only Much Louder which was promoting an event in Pune. The event management company found that they had 30x ROI on their ad on Facebook. For a small business this is a phenomenal Return on Investment. For them, the ROI was ticket sales and around 10,500 tickets were sold through Facebook ads.

We also found out that 35% of all ticket buyers were invited by a Facebook friend onto the page. Now for a small business, this is phenomenal. Where else can you sell 10,500 tickets without going door to door, or college campuses and sell them individually? Which kind of platform gives you that?

Another example I can give you is of Kaya Clinic. They found that 20% of their sales were actually through Facebook and 22% of their web traffic came from Facebook. That is a meaningful ROI for them. They are looking at both sales through footfalls and referral web traffic.

The future of e-commerce looks promising for small business. Tell us about some e-commerce features that Facebook is experimenting with?

Facebook is a marketing platform. It allows you to find customers in many ways. As an e-commerce business I can use Facebook to build fans and drive traffic to my website. If I don’t have a separate website I can have shopping apps on Facebook itself. We give advertisers that ability to decide whether they want to drive traffic outside or have a shopping app right on the page.

Successful businesses are building a community of customers and potential customers on Facebook, talking to them about new products, offers and then driving them to their websites.

I’ll give you the example of Yepme. Yepme found a 125% increase in conversion rate when they started using Facebook ads. Page post ads in the news feed gave them 20 times higher click rate than ads on the right sidebar. Overall, they found a 4.5x ROI on results. And now they are allocating 80% of their budget on Facebook as its performance is better than any other online ad network.

Be it small or big, businesses of all sizes are finding great value by leveraging Facebook as a platform to get more customers and more sales from existing customers.

How is Facebook helping small businesses to drive innovation?

Business are using Facebook to crowdsource product innovation ideas and building them off it. A great example would this coffee shop that wanted to introduce a new variety of coffee. It wanted to figure out what flavors to use so they asked their Facebook fans and their friends to figure out what new range to introduce in their coffee shop. Now that’s product innovation for the coffee shop.

Another example is of a New Zealand based brand which had discontinued a product line. Consequently, their customers started talking about it because it was a product they liked. The company used this opportunity to create a new marketing campaign. They got their customers involved in getting the brand back.

As a small business, I want to make product lines that work for my business and have consumers come to my doorstep. This is how most businesses are using Facebook to find innovation. Now this can’t happen with any other online platform because Facebook provides you the social context and connections for engaging in a two-way conversation with customers.

What per cent of local businesses are able to generate direct sales through Facebook?

More than one million advertisers are finding value and are continuing to grow. Large part of them are helping SME’s and local businesses. Globally, 16 million local businesses have used Facebook and this is a growing number..

Key Takeaways:

  • Multiple sets of ads can help you reach a different kind of audience type, and this depends on the way you want to customize it, making it specific to landing people on your website.
  • Facebook did a survey with users to find out how they interact on Facebook and found that one out of three users made a purchase based on recommendation.
  • 60% of Facebook users who have been surveyed said, they are likely to purchase a product based on recommendation. 1 in 3 users made a purchase based on a friend’s recommendation.
  • Facebook has 15 million local businesses globally who are building a presence, growing and having a rich conversation with their customers on a regular basis and they are doing this through multiple devices.
  • There are many travel businesses that target global people. If you want people from the US or Europe to visit India and come to your destination, say Ladakh, you can target that in a much more rich and targeted matter.
  • Today an advertiser can potentially start advertising for as low as $5 a day.
  •  Ensure that you fill in detailed information like location, the kind of business that you are, the about section and ensuring that you have captioned all that in detail, so that you become more receptive to the search.
  • There are some advertisers who need on-board support, so for them Facebook offers a 28 days on-boarding program – Start to Success!