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Facebook Live viewership in India has jumped 50%: Avinash Pant

Avinash Pant, Director - Marketing, Facebook India talks about the company’s consumer marketing strategy in India and the latest phase of its 360 degree marketing campaign - More Together

Facebook has been celebrating the power of connections and communities, and how people can do more together than alone through its consumer marketing campaign in India – ‘More Together’. Launched a year ago, the 360-degree campaign has been conceptualised and executed by Taproot Dentsu and Dentsu Webchutney and has gone live in multiple languages across TV, digital, print, radio and OOH.

The latest phase of its ‘More Together’ campaign marks the first anniversary of Facebook’s consumer marketing journey in India.

As part of the campaign, Facebook is leveraging the power of its platform extensively to bring inspirational stories to life and has partnered with Dentsu Webchutney to craft the creative strategy and communication across digital and social media, including a digital campaign #FBPePoocho highlighting how people can get support and solutions by reaching out to their connections on Facebook.

In conversation with Adgully, Avinash Pant, Director - Marketing, Facebook India, speaks at length about Facebook’s ‘More Together’ campaign journey. He also sheds light on Facebook’s efforts to build trust with people who use its products and services, as well as build value around each of its apps. 

From celebrating Holi in Romania to the latest ad featuring Dhara’s story – how has Facebook’s consumer marketing journey in India progressed in its first year?

India is a key market for Facebook and we are focused on two important things through our consumer marketing journey here - building trust with people who use our products and services, and building value around each of our apps. 

Looking at how our journey has unfolded over the past year, we continue to be amazed and humbled by the many ways in which people are getting together to help and support one another or come together on Facebook. Our team did extensive research and saw how people across the length and breadth of the country used Facebook during the pandemic and drew inspiration from these real-life instances to handpick some stories that will resonate with everyone. We have done five campaigns so far aimed at strengthening our brand belief that people can do more together than alone. In the latest phase as well we will continue to celebrate people who have harnessed the power of their connections to help others, become self-reliant or upskill themselves.

A year later, how has the ‘More Together’ strategy helped Facebook build stronger connections and communities in India?

Our core belief is that ‘People can do more together, than alone’. Over the last year, we have seen this reflected in the innumerable ways people have come together on our platforms to help and support one another; from people like Mahita Nagraj who formed a Facebook group Caremongers India (now HumanKind Global) to aid the unaided during the lockdown, to Durga Pujo pandals going virtual on Facebook in keeping with social distancing measures last year, to teachers using our live video features to conduct online classes. Our campaigns have been focused on spotlighting such stories inspired by real life experiences of people harnessing the power of their connections and communities. Our Diwali campaign, Pooja Didi, had millions of views globally and was shared over 230k times as it was a reflection of the resilience that people in India displayed when normal lives were disrupted by the pandemic. 

There are numerous stories that have managed to surprise us - stories that are a testimony to the social nature of our being and our ability to empathise, inspire, discuss and help. As the nature of the situation evolved, so did the stories. However, the fundamental notion of the power of connections has remained intact, and that is what we are showcasing.

We have seen diverse stories being showcased as part of the ‘More Together’ campaign. How do you select these stories? What has been the inspiration behind the campaign?

Facebook is deeply entrenched in the cultural fabric of India. With the onset of the pandemic last year, and acceleration of digitization, more and more Indians came online. During this time we noticed the way people have used our platform across the country to reach out, get help and be there for one another. Our team did extensive research and saw how people across the length and breadth of the country used Facebook and drew inspiration from these real-life instances to handpick some stories that will resonate with everyone. 

One such example was of Pooja Didi and how she helps sustain as many households as possible through the hardships of the pandemic via her dairy venture. The decision to hire more personnel, even when business is low, comes at a great personal cost. However, the way the plot unfolds, it showcased the limitless possibilities when people come together. The film was inspired by several such stories of resilience that we saw across the country when normal lives were disrupted by the pandemic and this made it go viral with over 230k shares on Facebook and a reach of 160 million people.

As this new phase marks the first anniversary of Facebook’s consumer marketing journey in the country, we will continue to shine a spotlight on people, who tapped into the power of their connections and communities to share, connect and grow. As part of the campaign we will have three 45-second films as well as a digital campaign, #FBPePoocho highlighting how people can get support and solutions by reaching out to their connections on Facebook. In addition to this, the campaign will also have OOH advertising which will focus on creators who have used Facebook to pursue their passions and grow.  

Please elaborate on the digital and social media approach to the campaign. How are you panning out the campaign across media platforms? Could you tell us about your strategy for TV, print, radio and OOH?

The new phase of our integrated campaign includes three 45-second films that will go live in multiple languages across TV, print, digital, radio and OOH. We will also leverage the power of our own platform extensively to bring these inspirational stories to life with a digital campaign #FBPePoocho focused on highlighting how people can get support and find solutions by reaching out to their connections on Facebook. For the OOH and print leg of the campaign we are featuring creators who have pursued their passions and built a name for themselves using the power of platforms such as Facebook. We are showcasing eight creators across categories comprising of Sanjyot Keer (Your Food Lab)Curly Tales , the dynamic Husband-wife TV actor duo - SIT, along with others including Varun PruthiMaithili ThakurMadhura'sRecipeBhaDiPa and Following Love. They are social proof that ‘dil kholo, duniya tumhare saath hai’ works. While TV tells us inspirational stories, OOH will focus on real stories of Facebook-first creators along with digital being used extensively to showcase the power of people coming together on our platform.

The ‘Pooja didi’ campaign touched a lot of chords with the positive message of helping each other during these challenging times. How has Facebook been aiding people to actually reach out and provide help and support where needed?

The Facebook Family of Apps are playing a critical role in the lives of people around the globe during these times as people are leveraging our platforms more than ever to connect with friends, family and communities. People used Facebook groups extensively - ranging from coordinated relief efforts, to hosting FB lives, to curbing user anxiety, pre-existent groups like Project Mumbai shifted their relief efforts towards COVID-19 related issues, and new groups like ‘Caremongers India’ and #EkSaath were initiated and saw massive support during the pandemic. Also, as the lockdown led to blood shortages due to challenges around organising blood camps, our blood donations feature was used extensively by blood banks and hospitals in the country to connect with voluntary donors and schedule appointments for them to donate blood. 

In past year, we have connected over 2 billion people globally to authoritative COVID-19 information through our COVID-19 Information Centre and have also introduced a tool to connect people to information about where and when to get a COVID-19 vaccine, and expanded  official WhatsApp chatbots on COVID-19 to get people registered for vaccinations with health authorities and governments. 

How would you sum up the year gone by (2020) for Facebook? How did you grow in terms of DAUs and MAUs, as well as revenues? What is your current user base in India and how much has it grown during the pandemic period? What were the major challenges that Facebook faced in 2020?

The largest community for Facebook is in India. With the world practicing social distancing, we saw a rise in people using our platforms last year. Since we launched Live video on Facebook, people have made over 8.5 billion broadcasts. Live broadcasts from Pages in India have tripled in June 2020 compared to the same time last year. Facebook Live viewership jumped 50%. More and more artists and businesses have used Facebook Live to engage with their audiences. A Bollywood icon such as Madhuri Dixit turned to singing, and launched her single ‘Candle’ exclusively on Facebook via Facebook Live.

In 2020, communities found ways to connect, entertain, learn, and grow through our platform. People came on Facebook to celebrate cultural moments such as Durga Pooja, Diwali, and IPL with their family and friends. Genres including food, fitness and DIY became more popular with creators such as Sanjyot Keer (Your Food Lab)Hebbar’s Kitchen, Fittr, and (Artkala4u), creating engaging content. 

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