Brands are ramping up digital presence amid crisis to enhance reach: Facebook’s Sandeep Bhushan

Brands are ramping up digital presence amid crisis to enhance reach: Facebook’s Sandeep Bhushan

The covid-19 crisis has led many retail brands to step out of their comfort zones and ramp up their social media presence, while liaising with influencers for not just advertising, but also for launching new product lines.

Now, with 160 million small and medium businesses leveraging Facebook platforms, including WhatsApp and Instagram, to grow, Sandeep Bhushan, director and head, global marketing solutions, Facebook India, said it is equipping retailers with new tools such as hyperlocal pincode-based ads. Edited excerpts from an interview:

How are brands going digital and attracting customers during this crisis?

During the covid-19 crisis, businesses are becoming innovative and using more digital tools to influence different purchasing life cycles of a customer. Today, there are close to 400 million users in India which access the internet via our apps, and brands are investing extensively to engage them.

There has been a significant increase in Live, on Facebook platforms, which is being leveraged by brands for showcasing and connecting with customers. Brands are also relying on influencers for outreach and showcasing or launching their products. Since consumers can’t go to their favourite dealers, they are relying on online influencers, who are now becoming experts to understand more about product offerings. Digital influence has gone up from 50% pre-covid to 70% for smartphone brands, and from 45% to 55% for apparel.

What are Facebook platforms doing to help brands target customers better?

Apart from alerts, and advertisement boosts, we have worked on a product where brands can make influencers’ outreach aligned to their own footprint. Another piece is the ability to build outreach products around the ecosystem.

For example, Samsung is training and helping 800 local dealers to build local pages on our platforms. The local dealers can leverage their credibility and relationship with customers in the neighbourhood to constantly be in touch, target relevant users, and even respond to queries during the purchasing process. This simulation of the offline world coming online is born out of the current pandemic.

For consumer packaged goods, kiranas continue to be a strong play. Will Facebook create new products around this economy?

For CPG, a very significant part of the trade happens through kiranas. So, we discovered a new tool, which allows advertisers to target advertisements to a certain hyperlocal pincode, in order to move sales. Also, advertisers can provide information on outlets that are selling their products through ‘click-to-Messenger’ advertisements. For Facebook, the aim is to help brands push their businesses to consumers now.

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