Meta isn't just where users discover brands & products, it's where brands & products discover customers: Arun Srinivas

Mrinil Mathur
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Meta Arun Srinivas

On the sidelines of Meta’s first marketing summit in the country, Arun Srinivas, Director, Global Business Group (India) at Meta, speaks to Social Samosa on how brands can drive profitable growth by using the Meta Apps.

With 440 million people just using Facebook in India, and Instagram and WhatsApp growing dramatically, Meta Apps play a consequential role in expanding the digital ecosystem.

The Rural internet population is also growing faster than the urban one, and by 2025, rural India is likely to have a higher number of internet users compared to urban centres. (Source: IAMAI & Kantar 2021). Meta platforms are enabling some of the largest brands in India to reach people in rural India and deliver strong business outcomes.

Globally, 200 million businesses, mostly small businesses, use Meta apps every month, and they have more than 10 million active advertisers across our services.

With the rise of brands and businesses exploring Meta Apps at different levels of the marketing funnel, Indian brands are yet to unlock the full potential of these apps to drive profitable growth. Both large and small businesses are experimenting with the apps from the Meta family to engage with their customers and direct them to discover their products and close the purchase loop. 

Meta is currently working towards educating businesses on how they can leverage their ecosystem of apps to drive growth and profitability through the Meta Marketing Summit. Organized across Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, the Summit has featured marketing and creative veterans across industries, talking about how profitability and growth can be achieved through the right application of solutions offered by Meta’s ecosystem of apps. The Summit also highlighted the importance of Meta’s apps in an evolving macroeconomic environment and what it means for businesses. 

In conversation with Arun Srinivas, Director, Global Business Group - Meta, Social Samosa explores Meta Apps at different levels of the marketing funnels.

Edited Excerpts:

What are some things that brands should focus on to ensure they drive profitability through Meta Universe? 

Meta has spent more than a decade building a powerful discovery engine — one that generates a connection with customers, demand for products, and interest in brands, small or large. 

Personalized advertising is the bedrock of our business tools. It’s what makes connecting with a business on the Meta platform meaningful. It creates those serendipitous moments when a person discovers exactly what they were looking for and finds your business for the very first time. 

Meta is not just where people discover brands and products; it is where brands and products discover their customers - that’s the strength of our apps. More and more, we find that these discoveries are converting into purchases. 

Therefore, it goes back to fundamentally what their objectives are. Today we offer solutions for every business, small and large, based on what their objectives are, and we work very closely with each of those companies to achieve their objectives. Brands should focus on what outcomes they seek, have clarity, and then do what they want across Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp. 

So, from your experience, what is something these large brands have done right? If you have a proven example to back this

Some of this is a journey because there's no formula that some people created that everybody else can copy. We have seen very successful outcomes and campaigns that are designed for digital. So right from inception and creativity, it's created for the medium. It's not a slap-on from television or print. It's also designed for the surface within our ecosystem. Some of the better campaigns that we've seen are where brands are designing for reels and stories. So, they are thinking through where the consumer is and creating assets that work for each of those surfaces so that it's engaging. For Example, to reach its target audience of young girls and women in India, Clean & Clear ran an Instagram-only campaign using a series of mobile-optimized creatives. The ads ran in both Hindi and English. The teen brand’s experimental Instagram-first approach helped drive higher ad recall, especially amongst the specific group of Indian youth.

The financial service industry too is sometimes very innovative in the way it communicates its offering through these surfaces. The creative expression, leveraging the platform for its surfaces and having clarity on what it means to do, bring out very successful outcomes.

Brands are also engaging with creators to create content on Reels and leveraging branded content to reach business outcomes. Example: Spotify used Reels to host the biggest Reels Holi party with #SpotifywaaliHoli promoting their Holi special playlist. This initiative was targeted for impact for a few days around the festival. In an industry first, over 40+ creators went live with Branded Content Tag in their Reels, promoting Spotify's Holi playlist and inviting the Instagram community to join in their virtual Reels party. This resulted in an impactful: 60Mn views, and the ‘Holi Ke Rang’ playlist ranked among the top 37 most consumed playlists on Spotify for the week.

We strongly believe that innovative technologies are disrupting digital advertising in India - from AR and messaging to even the future Metaverse for businesses - our goal at Meta is to make the tools of tomorrow available to businesses so they’re ahead of the curve. 

A YouGov study for Meta showed that more than 50% of shoppers are increasingly influenced by virtual demos in their purchase decisions for several categories such as apparel, health & beauty, cars, and mobile phones. For example, brands such as Lakme enabled AR-try-ons on Instagram and saw strong results with nearly 18,000 try-ons in 2 months using the tool. This is just one of the many examples of businesses using such innovative tools to grow. 

ITC also launched its DTC store across Top Metros via Meta Apps and leveraged Facebook’s solutions for driving business outcomes across the portfolio. They leveraged FB collaborative ads to boost their existing Store sales. 13X YoY growth in purchases (Q2 2021 vs. Q2 2020); 4.81X YoY growth in Return on ad spend.

Can you bust a myth that marketers have that is keeping them from utilizing the platform in full capacity?

When I was not at Meta, I thought a majority of Instagrammers live in the metros but this got busted on day one after I joined Meta. It is not just the urban and affluent population that is there on Instagram. Marketers believe that Instagram is dominated by the English-speaking, urban audience, but that's really not true. The savviest marketers have understood this and are using the app to reach consumers outside of metro cities.

In India, Reels has transformed the way content is created and consumed on Instagram, and it has given rise to a whole new wave of young creators. For example, @superstar_dewasi99 aka Rupa Ram, from Pali (a city in Rajasthan) has grown by over 2500% since the launch of Reels. 

How can a brand marry Influencer Marketing or Branded Content with the Marketing at Meta optimally?

Many categories such as fashion brands or beauty brands have organic influencers and Instagram gives them access to these influencers. Meta offers three things. We are home to hundreds of thousands of creators across various categories, like fashion, beauty, sports, etc. In India, 440 million people access Facebook every month. Of these, 282 million people access Facebook every day. Globally, 200 million businesses, mostly small businesses, use our apps every month. We now have more than 10 million active advertisers across their services. So, in some sense, we bring the three constituents together, businesses and brands on one side, the creator community on the other, and the consumers on the third. Businesses and brands can certainly harness in not just using their influencers. Say, if they have specific objectives of getting more influencers, let's say in Tamil Nadu or in eastern India, they can work with us to figure out who the right collaborators for those categories are. 

Secondly, they can promote these posts using branded content tags because while they may have advertising that works for their core offerings, having a product or talking about how to use it gives that tone of authenticity another source of authority. But if that influencer has only a certain number of followers, the message may not go far and wide, but by leveraging branded content, it can go to people who seek that kind of product much more deeply.

One of our offerings, Born on Instagram, is a central creator hub designed to help creators across India gain a deeper understanding of Instagram and build a sustainable presence on the platform. For example, Hyundai teamed up with the ‘Born on Instagram’ program to promote the new Hyundai Venue’s ‘Live the Lit life’ campaign. Under this collaboration, 25 ‘Born on Instagram’-certified creators created unique content around the new Venue to strike a chord with GenZ and Millennials. 

Also Read: Inside: Liger Marketing Strategy – a journey of original content & pan-India visits

Where in the marketing funnel should Meta Universe of Apps be present?

We are definitely a reach medium for brands. To build awareness for your products, you will need to be right up there because the reach, as mentioned in an organic role, is significant enough, and add WhatsApp to this mix, which is massive and has a unique offering. 

The India findings of a Meta-commissioned online survey by GFK revealed that 96% of the surveyed people discover brands and products online. Of these, 83%, said they typically discover them on a Meta platform. And 96% of weekly users who discover apparel, beauty, furniture, or consumer electronics on Meta apps ultimately make a purchase

Therefore, large businesses will need to be at every part of the funnel to reach people who are online and on our apps.

One of India’s fastest-growing beauty brands, Wow Skin Science, used our apps for a “full-funnel” marketing approach that involved extensive testing and campaign optimization strategies. 1.9x increase in ad spends and 13% y-o-y growth in purchases. 

We have seen small businesses using WhatsApp to drive and manage their business, but can you touch upon how bigger brands are using WhatsApp and where WhatsApp is present in the marketing plan?

The WhatsApp Business Platform is the enterprise Business API solution from WhatsApp that allows businesses to communicate with new and existing customers on WhatsApp in a simple, secure, and reliable way. In fact, more than 1 billion users connect with a business account across Meta’s messaging services every week. 

WhatsApp’s Business App is a free-of-cost, manual app used by over 15 million SMBs across the country that helps them replicate their physical stores online and democratizes access to customer bases irrespective of geographical boundaries. 

Some examples of brands using the WhatsApp Business Platform include Uber, MakeMyTrip, ICICI Bank, HDFC, and Kotak amongst others. We are also working closely with brands like L’Oréal for salon appointments across their franchises. 

Businesses are learning a lot because of the different nature of their business. It’s a two-way conversation on which brands must build their capability. The journey has just begun, and there is a lot to travel. 

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