September 12, 2019

Facebook Influencer Series – Event Recap


yellowHEAD was honored to be the only Israeli agency to attend Facebook’s Influencer Series event last week at their headquarters in Menlo Park. The event brought together top agencies and introduced them to Facebook strategies, roadmaps, culture, and the spirit of Silicon Valley.

With a lineup of Facebook elites, the talks focused on a variety of topics, some of which included:

  • Commerce marketing: how the industry is currently growing, and which markets are showing opportunities & growth due to development (spoiler alert – it’s APAC, Africa, Eastern and Central Europe)
  • Instagram becoming the biggest marketplace for commerce with their new Checkout and the connection between creators/influencers, brands, and users
  • WhatsApp’s ability to create a community and connect people to businesses
  • Facebook Messenger becoming a great platform for lead generation
  • Privacy and security continuing to be a strong focus to ensure trust within users

The list of speakers consisted of:

  1. Gene Alston, VP of Partnerships, GMS, Facebook
  2. David Fischer, CRO, Facebook
  3. Maxine Williams, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Facebook
  4. Graham Mudd, VP of Product Marketing Ads, Facebook
  5. Matthew Idema, COO, WhatsApp
  6. Tom Alison, VP of Engineering in Community Pillar, Facebook
  7. Rachel Xanttopoulos, PMM, Monetization, Instagram
  8. Gedioen Aloula, Global VP of Marketing, Instagram
  9. Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communication, Facebook
  10. Matt Jacobson, Head of Market Development, Facebook
  11. Matthew Cowan, Partner, Next47

Gene Alston, VP of Partnerships, GMS, Facebook

Gene discussed how the next big markets for potential users are Southeast Asia, Central Europe, Eastern Europe and Africa. Facebook sees huge growth in these regions, thus leading to potential opportunities. For instance, people in APAC (Asian-Pacific countries) frequently use Messenger to sell & buy things.

He suggests that you build your tech capabilities for things that are relevant for you and your business.

Gene offered a few key pieces of advice:

  • Keep an eye open
  • Focus on developing markets
  • Focus on the right technology

David Fischer, CRO, Facebook

David spoke about Facebook connecting people and businesses, and the importance of building tools to help people. The use of Stories is the #1 growing tool for Facebook today (partially due to businesses using Stories to connect to their audiences), while Status Updates are growing for WhatsApp in developing markets.

Commerce is also on the rise. Instagram Checkout is in Alpha mode, while Facebook Marketplace is scaling for other markets outside the US.

With 1.7 billion people around the world unbanked, Facebook is looking to focus on creating a stable solution for them. They have started to invest in a payment system – Libra.

David’s final points:

  • Think of where people spend their time
  • Care for their privacy

Maxine Williams, Global Chief Diversity Officer, Facebook

Maxine’s talk focused on the importance of diversity. In order for us to progress, we need diversity – there isn’t enough talent in the majority. Diversity should begin in the top management and move its ways down the ranks. Everyone deserves equal opportunity.

She also spoke of how you should always be realistic with your goals. Take the time to build and test before you set your goals.

Graham Mudd, VP of Product Marketing Ads, Facebook

Graham spoke about putting the control back into the hands of the people. What’s good for people should be good for your business. In fact, Instagram is making Likes private, so that people don’t feel bad for getting fewer likes.

Facebook is always looking to improve their advertising through empowering business big and small, as well as working on improving users’ ad experience via transparency and the ability to be more selective over ads they see.

With new privacy policies in place, using users’ data for advertising is getting harder. Different ad experiences require different purposes, so Facebook builds automatic placements that can control the outcomes and budgets, while also providing more opportunities to connect with users.

He also paved out the commerce roadmap that begins with Instagram Checkout, Marketplace opening globally, and bot collaboration messaging on Facebook & Instagram.

Through Instagram, users can follow brands and choose to view their content. Messenger has also become a great place for lead generation for Small-Medium Businesses & large brands. Graham explained how Libra will bring these platforms and banking together – helping people shop more over Instagram and Facebook.

Matthew Idema, COO, WhatsApp

With over 15M active users per month (primarily in Brazil, India, Indonesia and Mexico), WhatsApp is the most private platform where people want to share things with their friends and family. Facebook promises to keep it safe according to user requests.

Matthew emphasized that WhatsApp has kept three main principles:

  • Simplicity – think of the two little check marks that turn blue when the message is read
  • Reliability – messages get delivered; WhatsApp is the only thing that works when other networks fail
  • Privacy – this is the strongest promise for users

The app has gone through a huge change by bringing businesses to the product, enabling them to give immediate service to users, ultimately leading to sales (with direct transactions on the horizon). This instantaneous service puts WhatsApp in the sales & service light and has started to get used by more SMBs around the globe.

Tom Alison, VP of Engineering in Community Pillar, Facebook

The fundamental aspect of Facebook has remained the same: building connections – whether it is with friends, family, or communities. Today, Facebook’s app primarily focuses on communities and groups, as they are the most common way to share and connect.

These communities – led by influencers – help users feel meaningful.

Brands, like Peleton and Starbucks, continue to build a relationship between these communities and their product and brand for long-term effects.

Tom continued to share a roadmap and some new features to look forward to:

  • Events & Places – find your friends and where they’re going
  • Dating – 30% of couples meet online
  • Gaming – a new tab for gamers!
  • News – users come to Facebook to get their news

Rachel Xanttopoulos, PMM, Monetization, Instagram

Rachel discussed Instagram becoming a major commerce and shopping platform. With 1B monthly active users, it allows interaction with family & friends, celebs, influencers, brands and trends.

People tap into their interests on Instagram and tend to follow businesses that embody those interests. Instagram allows brands to express themselves and be open, while simultaneously enabling users to discover trends and new products to shop for. Especially now, with IGTV on the rise, more users are watching branded content.

Rachel talked about Branded Content Ads being the latest in the evolution of Instagram business products. Brands are working alongside Creators to expand their reach and connect with their audience. The next step? Shopping from Creators directly (currently in Beta).

Gedioen Aloula, Global VP of Marketing, Instagram

Gedioen emphasized similar topics by reinforcing points of expression. Instagram plays a huge role in a consumer’s life and is the best place to share things.

Nick Clegg, VP of Global Affairs and Communication, Facebook

Nick discussed the hardships that Facebook encounters when it comes to the news, especially around election season. On one hand, it can be a great tool to promote yourself and get the news out. However, there is a lot of fake news out there. Nick stressed the importance of handling this type of yellow journalism to maintain an honest image and provide reliable content.

Matt Jacobson, Head of Market Development, Facebook

Matt, the event’s headliner, explained how it is better to define “who I am as a business” and listed a few things to help employees feel they are a part of something:

  • Humble partnership
  • Honesty
  • Trust
  • Listening
  • Transparency
  • Boldness
  • Being fast

The amazing thing about Facebook’s culture is that they make sure that no one in a leadership role is left out of the hard times and/or the mistakes made. Instead of placing blame, they learn from their errors.

Mental and physical health also has an effect on company culture, so be sure to create a habit stack of things to do.

Matthew Cowan, Partner, Next47

Matthew discussed ways to ensure growth and make sure you’re running a healthy company.

Founders of the company should stick around to keep the business growing. Hiring an experienced COO as their right-hand man (or woman) is a great way to stay healthy. Another good tactic is maintaining a small number of people working on the core product to avoid a lot of layers between the product and management.

At the beginning of your idea, you will need a Venture Capital investment. Once you are a matured company, you will want to look into private equity.

Some of the top cities that Next47 invests in their startups include:

  • Silicon Valley
  • Tel Aviv
  • Toronto
  • Los Angeles
  • Berlin

Matt signed off with three ways to ensure success:

  • Focus on the idea
  • Recruit the best people
  • Maintain & always look to improve

Thanks, Facebook for an insightful event! We were honored to take part in it.

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