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With Facebook reporting that it has 79 million monthly active users in the MENA region, that stat by itself is reason enough for why brands and companies here would be wise to invest in marketing their offerings on this particular social media network. But this doesn’t mean that one is guaranteed a spike in business with just a perfunctory presence on Facebook- on the contrary, if one wants to make their voice heard among all of what’s happening on the platform, then one needs to really step up on the creative front to put together messages that are not just alluring to the consumer, but beneficial to the brand as well. However, marketers don’t have to go at this challenging task by themselves- Facebook Creative Shop was essentially created to help in this particular regard.
Described as “a team of brand marketers, creative directors and strategists who help clients grow their business,” Facebook Creative Shop provides marketers with guidance and tools they can use to better their advertising efforts on the social media network. “We are a group of creatives and strategists and entrepreneurs based around the world,” explains Rob Newlan, Head of Europe, Middle East and Africa, Facebook Creative Shop. “We get the fantastic opportunity to work with both big and small brands, and really look at driving the creative opportunities for them on our platforms like Facebook and Instagram, and we’re going to look more broadly as we build our portfolio.”
But that is not to say that Newlan and his team have solutions for all of your Facebook marketing conundrums either- after all, the digital media landscape is very much a “new” one, and they, like everyone else, are figuring it out as they go. “We are learning along with everyone else,” Newlan says. “This is not a team of people who are coming in with the answers- this is the team of curious people who are coming in to try and probe and work together with brands and partners to see what the potential is… It’s a really young industry, and so when you are looking at formative curves in different media, it takes a while to understand some of the ways of producing great work.”
Given the scale of the reach that Facebook provides -there are 1.44 billion Facebook users around the world, of which 190 million are in the Middle East and Africa region- brands thus have an exceptional opportunity to engage with this audience provided they can craft messages that are both relevant and rewarding to them. This is where Facebook’s analytics, insights and targeted marketing tools have a significant function- these can, according to Newlan, play an important role in enhancing the interactions between a brand and a consumer. “If we understand what different people find valuable, and what different people want as reward, then we can start to really tailor our creative so that it’s not an ubiquitous piece of work that we hope lots of people are going to be interested in,” he says. “It’s [going to be] a well-crafted piece of work, which, by testing and understanding, we have greater assurances of [whether] this is going to work.”
Examples of such creative marketing efforts can already be seen on the social media network- in March, Facebook Creative Shop revealed its Creative Accelerator program, which worked with brands such as Coca- Cola, Durex and Nestlé to boost their storytelling prowess in “high-growth markets” like Kenya, Indonesia and India respectively. In the Middle East specifically, Facebook Creative Shop collaborated with Etihad Airways to launch the airline’s new ground and cabin crew uniform, with acclaimed New York-based photographer Norman Jean Roy shooting the work in question. Adding to the campaign’s appeal was the use of Facebook’s tools to get it targeted better and reach the right type of consumers. “It was intelligent, and it was beautiful,” Newlan recalls. “And the more of that kind of work we see, it starts to just, sort of, reset the bar.”
When asked about the fairly commonplace complaint by users that there are just too many ads on Facebook, Newlan says that the problem actually lies elsewhere. “People don’t mind advertising- it’s just that they don’t like bad or irrelevant advertising,” he explains. “And that’s where I think the shift is [needed]… There has been this big technological revolution, but I am not sure if we have necessarily seen sort of the corresponding creative revolution [for that]- I think we are stuck at the early parts of that.” So does Newlan have any tips for the marketers out there on how they can utilize Facebook’s platforms in the best way possible? “In a world of relevancy, there’s no one answer to that,” he replies. “There’s no one way of saying it’s this, or it’s that. And I fundamentally believe it- it’s part of what I think is the most exciting thing about the industry at the moment, which is that there isn’t one answer. It’s not, ‘Oh, you need to do it like this.’ But you need to do things. You need to try things. You need to be out there doing, testing and learning… And that’s where the future of marketing is going. You need to go out, you need to understand the industry, and you can only understand it by being present on these platforms, doing work, and understanding that there isn’t ubiquity.”