Facebook tells Thai businesses: Create demand instead of waiting for it




“DISCOVERY” is not limited to the esoteric nature of exploration that we are so familiar with. It’s now an approach to marketing largely spearheaded by social media platforms. Facebook, for example, aims to create opportunities for people to discover the products of the companies who advertise through that social media channel.

Facebook itself is discovery-based, and so recognises the opportunity that their advertisers have to “empower people” to discover their products, said John Wagner, managing director of Facebook Thailand. They want to see businesses think about how to get customers to discover their products, he said.

This marketing approach, discovery of a product, differs from the more familiar search-based strategy.

“What I see is the opportunities in Thailand for businesses to adopt more advanced marketing techniques and methods in driving their growth,” said Wagner. That comes about when marketers approach the platform as a powerful tool to get the ads in front of people so that they will “discover” things that they might otherwise never buy.

Three key discovery-related factors can build incremental business growth through Facebook, said Wagner: drive discovery of their products, reach a wide audience, and promote their entire catalogue.

 For example, a traveller needing a hotel in Koh Chang might go to Agoda or Google and type in “hotel in Koh Chang” to find information. But a hotel owner in Koh Chang seeking to capture people could target them with ads on Facebook’s newsfeed to let them “discover” that hotel.

“This is the ‘discover mindset’, a very different way to thinking about marketing,” said Wagner “It is not waiting for people to come to say, ‘I want to go to Koh Chang'”.

Instead, he said, “businesses can create that demand, to empower the business, instead of waiting around for someone to have desire on their own”.

This is the big difference that Facebook offers. People pay attention to the content on Facebook because it is specifically selected for them based on the aggregation of internal data regarding their online behaviour. People just “discover” the ads and products and give it a level of attention that advertising often fails to trigger. And that provides an opportunity for businesses that operate that way, said Wagner.

And that audience is big, he said, with 48 million people in Thailand accessing Facebook monthly, with 96 per cent of them doing so through their mobile device.

Promoting the entire catalogue of a business is a change from the usual product-by-product marketing.

Facebook technologies allow businesses to set up automated systems that could take an entire portfolio of products and match each to those Facebook users most likely to be interested in that item. The system also tracks results and adjusts targetting as needed to optimise success. This machine learning is a powerful tool for marketers.

“It is the big change in marketing strategy in general,” said Wagner.

Facebook offers ad placement through four channels: inside Facebook, inside Instagram, in a system called “Audience Network”, and through Facebook “Messenger”. While most people still purchase most of their goods off-line, Thailand is seeing e-commerce growth 3.1 times higher than offline retail, worth US$3.56 billion (Bt118.12 billion) in 2017. E-commerce growth in sales this year is 20.5 per cent, while offline retail growth lags at 6.6 per cent.

The digital world is Thailand’s growth driver. Thai consumers spend more time on mobile than on PC computer and television. Print and radio have particularly suffered. The key for marketers is not just adding digital to the mix, it recognising that the mobile phone plays the starring role.

A June 2017 Facebook survey of Thai people found that 93 per cent of those using Facebook said they discovered products and brands on Facebook. The survey also found that half of store purchases are influenced by digital interactions.

“I want business people to understand that now it is the time to start acting because it is the peak period of people making purchasing and engaging online,” said Wagner.

Facebook has a coach-like technology embedded into websites of its partner companies so that it could view transaction data taking place.

It has found that 72 per cent of online purchases on Facebook were conducted through mobile units. Currently, around six million business around the world have some presence on Facebook and use Facebook as marketing tools. Two local companies, Allianz Ayudhya Assurance and Eatigo, use Facebook technologies as an effective way to drive growth and business efficiency.

“We try to assure that the adoption of Facebook within businesses is the highest possible,” said Wagner. “It is transformation. We want Thai businesses to benefit from technologies so that they evolve and prepare for the future. We try to help businesses connect to people and use technologies to grow.”

Jatemerin Jatelaveechote, senior vice president of digital marketing, design and activation at Allianz Ayudhya Assurance said the company launched an awareness campaign on Facebook and also uses Facebook audience and evaluation tools to capture leads across various channels and to monitor conversions. As a result, the company achieved a 30 to 40 per cent lower cost per lead and 300 per cent increase in the number of leads.

Cyrus Chen, regional head of online marketing at Eatigo said that the restaurant reservation platform used Facebook’s page-post engagement ads and implemented mobile-app ‘installs’ ads to increase app installs and usage. As a result, the company has achieved over 60,000 mobile app installs monthly, tripled the number of app installs, and reduced cost per customer acquisition by 30 per cent.

Wagner said Facebook has a team of people who work with select companies to teach, support, and advise staff to ensure success in their marketing through the social media channel.

But the lessons of the bigger companies are transferable to small and medium enterprises.

“All kinds of traditional businesses can use Facebook as a discovery platform to sell their products,” sums up Wagner. “Skill sets are needed to do that. We help engage community people and businesses to help them understand this and work with them to help build the skill sets to do it.”


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