When COVID-19 took over the global – and our lives – at a lightning speed in 2020, we were forced to adapt to changes. Societies around the world had to go digital, whether they were ready or not, or they’d get left behind.
Businesses, big and small, know this. Bringing their products and services to the Internet is the only way they could survive a pandemic that restricts face-to-face transactions. Gone are the days when we were free to roam around a boutique to choose what cocktail dress to wear on a Saturday night, or when we were allowed to hold big celebrations at ballrooms. Data from IBM’s US Retail Index even showed that the current health crisis has accelerated the shift away from actual stores to digital shopping by roughly five years.
As the number of physical stores decline and e-commerce rises at a stellar rate, this pandemic is ushering in a new era of doing business. But what does this really mean for entrepreneurs, especially financially fragile SMEs? And with the market competition shifting to a territory considerably unfamiliar to most businesses, how can they utilize social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram to approach the now-more critical consumers?
Vietcetera gets the insights of Nguyen Tuong Huy, Head of Growth, Global Business Group at Facebook Vietnam on the opportunities and challenges brought by this huge digital shift. Nguyen Tuong Huy leads the technology company’s campaigns and programs in Vietnam to help small and medium businesses to grow and thrive as the world undergoes an unprecedented huge digital transformation amidst the pandemic.
How has the pandemic changed the way people use Facebook?
2020 is the year that changed everything; from the way we live, to the way we work and play. This is the first global pandemic of the digital age, which affects almost all businesses of all sizes. Facebook has seen how this even compressed five years’ worth of digital transformation into a span of months. Fundamental shifts in e-commerce adoption have happened with ~50% and more of the online shoppers in SEA being ‘new and incremental. Depending on the business sector, the impacts of the pandemic on them are different.
Besides, people are spending more time online – connecting with each other, working, shopping, gaming and more. Facebook has become a major source for people to discover and seek inspiration. People are adapting to new technologies faster, which requires businesses to catch up with the trend.
According to Nielsen’s research study, people across APAC are adapting and exploring new routines: 59% watched how-to video tutorials; 87% of consumers report using at least one new digital shopping platform for the first time since the pandemic started; 61% of those aged 55 and older say that they have ordered products online that they would typically buy in-store.
Given the economic uncertainty, people’s expectations of businesses are evolving even faster than usual. So, businesses have an opportunity to be the driving force of economic recovery in the months and years ahead.
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What were the significant social trends that appeared in 2020, and how will these trends go in 2021 and after the pandemic?
In the beginning of 2020, we had shared five social trends that were on the rise across our platforms: mobile, video, ephemeral sharing (Stories), messaging and e-commerce.
In 2021, these trends are even more pronounced in Asia Pacific as well as in Vietnam:
1) Mobile and short-form video: The popularity of video content is growing over the years but 2020 shattered all records as people spent more time at home due to lockdowns and social distancing measures. In Vietnam, people watch an average of 21 short-form videos, accounting for 56% of the total number of videos they watch daily.
2) Discovery Commerce: People of all ages are now more open to new ways of finding products and new modes of shopping. It means reimagining the channels and platforms on which your business can stand out and be discovered. This requires an innovation mindset to be brave and experiment with services like shopping directly from social channels, live shopping, click-and-collect, subscription services, or applying new tech such as AR filters.
3) Conversation and cross-border commerce: people prefer interacting with businesses in ways that are human, personal and seamless. Discovering new products and services is becoming a more social experience.
Is there any difference between Gen Z and other generations in terms of online behavior and presence? How can businesses create marketing and advertising strategies for Gen Z?
If the Millennials are the generation of dotcom or web browsers, Gen Z is really the generation of mobile. With their presence, they have pushed the average ad viewing speed to only 4 milliseconds to recognize and process information from a mobile ad. This figure is really amazing if we compare the speed of recognizing ads on TV (5-7 seconds) and desktop (2-3 seconds).
Gen Z says yes to everything. This is a generation of high expectations with full flexibility and experience. They want to be seen as individuals but also believe in the power of unity. They support local businesses but also easily shop online with international brands. And they expect to be served well both online and in-store.
We believe that a right strategy of combining Facebook & Instagram would bring businesses the best of both worlds and help them win over Gen Z. We can summarize in three main approaches: 1) Influencer Marketing; 2) Focusing on a variety of interactive, entertaining and creative experiences; and 3) hobby-sync with Gen Z.
For the first, influencer marketing is especially important to Gen Z outreach. And Instagram acts as a bridge. Currently, 92% of Gen Z Vietnam is using Instagram to follow local and international celebrities. Our research shows that nearly 9 out of 10 MillennialZ are willing to perform a positive brand action including buying the product or service, recommending the product or service, trying the product or service, following the brand’s Instagram account if they are associated with a trusted creator with relevant expertise.
Regarding the interaction experience with Gen Z, we found from our survey that Stories is one of the most popular features of Gen Z Vietnam because this feature provides high privacy and uniqueness, as Stories only displays publicly in 24 hours, helping to express emotions without having to post a status.
Regarding Gen Z's hobbies, because this generation is open to many new things, new brands, brands must also pay attention to retain customers' interests and must include their hobbies. Vietnamese Gen Z’s top 3 interests are Gaming; Music & Sports.
In addition, businesses should also pay attention to using Branded Content on Instagram that will help businesses to reach a wider audience - beyond the influencers' fan base; at the same time targeting exactly the audience they want to advertise; and being able to measure the investment effectiveness of influencer marketing, which cannot be achieved with Traditional Influencer Marketing.
What generation should business and marketers focus on?
In Vietnam, one of the target audiences that we particularly want to help businesses to approach is the Millennials (25 - 38 years old) and Gen Z (18 - 24 years old) with the population of 45 million, accounting for 47% of the country’s population. They are now becoming the major force to contribute to the local digital economy. Their appearance on social networks has completely changed what we used to know about branding through advertising.
How can small businesses effectively make use of the Facebook platform to up their sales?
First of all, Vietnam is the second biggest market globally in terms of #people-to-business conversations, with over a third of people in VN is going on to purchase items via messaging platforms. Conversational Commerce with Messenger can help businesses to resolve friction that may happen during the buying journey, including introducing new products/services in the Discovery phase, instantly providing answers for customers’ inquiry in the Consideration phase, or offering well-rounded buying experiences in the Buying phase, to customer servicing and promotion sharing in the Reconnecting phase.
Businesses can consider to utilize Click-to-Messenger ads to encourage customers to initiate conversations with the businesses, and leveraging Dynamic Ads to showcase more relevant products to your audience.
Besides, when planning Facebook campaigns, advertisers should select the right objective and ad optimization to reach the right people. Have your business goals and stage of your customer journey in mind beforehand, so you can set your campaign up for success. For example, you can select Message as campaign objective and optimizing for replies so the delivery is maximized. With that, you can maximize the opportunity reaching out to people who are more willing to reach you out on Messenger.
Next, businesses should always keep in mind that most of the time people are on mobile, they mostly use it vertically. While designing for Facebook ads, you should always follow Mobile-first Creative Best Practices, including 1) Branding on the first 03 seconds; 2) Designing for sound-off; 3) Building visual stories in Square (1:1) or Vertical (9:16) frame which will help you to maximize the visibility for the ads on placements that your audiences are at and grab their attention right away. One of easiest ways to customize creatives for various placements is to use Asset Customization which is available in Ads Manager.
Last but not least, video is the most favourable format among today’s buyers. People watch videos on Facebook at any time of the day, and no longer just short videos but also for much longer videos. Businesses can utilize Facebook’s Video Toolkit or video edit apps like Videoshop to quickly craft new videos from existing materials, or partnering with Facebook Marketing Partners whose expertises in video development/production.