Facebook is a mammoth in terms of online communities, but like Google, it is yet to crack the commerce side of the internet.
Facebook’s 'More Together' campaign highlights its community of ‘friends and family’. It is about friends and acquaintances getting together and mobilising for a change. But, the ‘community’ ad films come with a subtle added layer of commerce.
The campaign was launched back in March 2020, and was built around stories highlighting the ‘power of connections’ on the social media platform.
It started out with Holi, it then lived through the peak COVID months, and made it to the (ongoing) Indian Premier League (IPL) and the festive season (Navratri, Dussehra and Diwali). The campaign has been crafted by Taproot Dentsu.
Away from the campaign, there are real examples of change too. ‘Baba ka Dhaba’, a roadside food stall run by an elderly couple struggling financially, went viral on social mediums like Facebook and Instagram, and netizens rallied for change.
However, we can’t help but notice words like naya banwana (getting new), dukaan (shop), khareedna (to buy), dhanda (business), mangayenge (to order), etc., alongside the mentions of home search, recommendations and online medicines/vegetables/fruits.
The social media giant (Facebook) seems to be pushing the idea of doubling up as a social commerce destination, but without making a lot of noise. Facebook does have social commerce ambitions for its messaging app WhatsApp and image/video sharing platform Instagram. The Facebook app also has its own ‘marketplace’.
Neeraj Kanitkar, senior creative director, Taproot Dentsu, however, says that the campaign is not an effort to position Facebook as an option for either search or hyperlocal commerce.
“It is about the power of people. It is what happens when somebody puts out a thought on Facebook and others contribute and take it forward. It’s like saying, even if there is no stadium this year, how do we create a stadium-like atmosphere? It is how a post takes a life of its own and has meaningful impact...”
One of the IPL-focused films has been produced both in Hindi and South Indian languages instead of, say, just slapping a Tamil voice-over on a North India-focused film.
“To make the most of broadcast opportunities, we wanted to reshoot the films in two completely different settings. Though we started with the same script, with the regional festive nuances, the films looked very different in both Hindi and Tamil,” Kanitkar says.
K Vaitheeswaran, co-founder AGAIN Drinks, and an e-commerce pioneer, points out that Facebook has been accused of wielding enormous power over communities and influencing activities, elections, etc. It is under threat of being broken into smaller units by the US government.
“The Internet has grown on three pillars – community, commerce and content. While Amazon took the commerce route, most others (like Facebook and Google) took the content and community route. Both Google and Facebook are under pressure to pay for the content from media companies. This makes commerce the most sustainable Internet business.”
Vaitheeswaran’s view doesn’t seem out of place, since Google has also been pushing its e-commerce and discovery side in its recent communication.
“There isn’t much pressure on commerce, as long as you pay taxes. You can keep building scale and growing. Google and Facebook are afraid of falling behind, and are trying different tactics to get into the commerce space. There will be lot more activities to ensure that people discover products and services on Facebook. They would always suggest ways to sell to business pages and connect the various facets, like Instagram and WhatsApp. With the festive season around, it’s a great time to put out the word,” Vaitheeswaran adds.
From an execution and story standpoint, Shrenik Gandhi, co-founder, White Rivers Media, mentions that the ad films are ‘massy’.
“The look and feel, and the choice of Hindi and regional languages would make for better penetration and shareability in Tier-II markets. The films also carry elements of the lockdown to showcase need, want and potential of Facebook in such a scenario.”
Sanjay Tripathy, co-founder and CEO, Agilio Labs (former CMO, HDFC), says that ‘More Together’ is more of a global thought from Facebook.
“The COVID phase talked about how one can use Facebook to take care of each other, and then the IPL ads make them very contextual – how collective action can lead to great change. It urges people to keep sharing ideas.”
“Now, while it upholds the global thought, it also brings in the local business angle, in the guise of friends doing more together. While it depicts more happiness, it also means more business together,” Tripathy signs off.