Facebook says it is out to disrupt Philippine businesses in the same way it has changed how people communicate.
“We want to disrupt the way things actually are by making the way that people, friends and companies connect to each other. We are very frictionless and are riding on this great new technological disruption which is basically all about mobiles,” says Facebook country director for the Philippines Digs Dimagiba.
Facebook, the California-based company founded by Mark Zuckerberg which posted a $3.7-billion profit and $17.9-billion revenue in 2015, is now looking at the Philippines from a business perspective.
With 54 million registered users and more than 30 million active daily Facebook users based on TNS Research, the Philippines is considered as one of the most engaged Facebook communities in the world, according to Dimagiba. It now wants to monetize the huge following it has in the country.
“We have grown the platform beyond a social media platform to one that is a true business solutions platform,” says Dimagiba. Facebook offers business solutions to enable Philippine companies to reach out to their target audience.
Dimagiba says Facebook business solutions can help in the areas of brand building, generating demand, driving leads or sales and integrated campaigns on TV and Facebook and Instagram. He cites a study showing that three out of five Filipinos purchase a product after discovering it on Facebook.
“The world has changed. The consumer has changed. The biggest disruptor in that change is that we have gone mobile. The Philippines is a mobile first country. It means that for a lot of Filipinos, their first contact with the Internet and going digital is actually their mobile or smartphone,”says Dimagiba.
“For a lot of Filipino businesses, they ought to recognize that insight—that most Filipinos are already on mobile, they are always connected and spending 2 hours and 20 minutes everyday on smartphone mostly on Facebook. What they can do to reach people and connect their brand and business is that they can use the variety of solutions that Facebook actually has in order to connect. All the resources are actually online,” he says.
Dimagiba, who was appointed to the post at the same time Facebook opened an office in the Philippines in April this year, says the rise of smartphones led to the dramatic growth of Facebook users in the country.
TNS Research shows that the top 5 digital services used by Filipinos are Facebook (95 percent), YouTube (92 percent), Facebook Messenger (87 percent), Twitter (54 percent) and Instagram (50 percent).
Filipinos use Facebook 1.7 times more often than television, 4.5 times more than radio and 8 times more than print media, according to the study. Dimagiba says Facebook’s lead is expected to become even wider as mobile phone penetration rate increases in the country.
“We have to accept the fact that we have gone mobile. It is a digital world. Some of the things we have learned in school at least from my generation is not the same as this current generation. The best thing is you can actually embrace the change and ride on it,” he says.
“The nice thing about disruption is that it is a positive disruption. We learn that we suddenly move into a completely new space that is not incremental, it is exponential. That is the kind of positive impact that we want to bring to our partners and create value for the Philippines,” says Dimagiba.
Filipinos spend two hours and 20 minutes on smartphones every day, he says. The Philippines is a mobile-first nation with 92 percent of people on Facebook accessing it via mobile devices.
Dimagiba, who studied at Ateneo de Manila University and worked for Samsung and Unilever before joining Facebook, is in charge of working closely with businesses and agencies to help them get more value out of Facebook’s solutions.
Six months into the job, Dimagiba is preparing the Facebook Philippine team to take advantage of the expected spike in online activities of Filipinos during the Christmas and New Year festivities. He says Filipinos now spend most of their media consumption time on Facebook and Instagram, exceeding the time spent on traditional media. Particularly during the months of October to December, there is significantly more activity across all demographics, he says.
He says there is around 30 percent more activity on Facebook during the festive season, beginning as early as September and continues until January of the next year. Early in January, Facebook sees the biggest spike in consumer goods related topics including household, baby and toys, food and beverage, and beauty and personal care, he says.
Dimagiba says companies that have tried Facebook’s business solutions saw dramatic results. “In the Philippines alone, the results are really fantastic. Whether small or big clients, once they embrace the platform…suddenly it doubles the number of people who are interested in their business. Big clients say that in just a couple of months, they have received more leads to their business than they have ever had in the past. About 1000 percent or 100 percent, the kind of growth that is not just incremental in single digit, but really exponential. You can really see the return on businesses. We have helped a lot of our partners. I would say it is exponentially successful in driving business solutions,” he says.
Memo Moreno, a principal partner at Mindshare, an agency that works with Facebook in the Philippines, says in this digital age, clients need to shift their traditional thinking to be more mobile first. “Before we used to spend 99 percent of our budget on TV, but here right now, we have to shift our investments more on mobile, more on digital, because it is all about that,”she says.
“We have actually seen this. They have shifted. We have big clients who have shifted a little more money on Facebook and other digital platforms, most of them mobile,” says Moreno.
Moreno says an automotive company that used Facebook business solutions drew thousands of business leads in just two months. “In a span of two months, we were able to increase the number of leads by 4.3 times. That’s how effective the platform is,” she says.
Vincent Fajarda, director of digital marketing at Shangri La Hotels and Resorts, says a recent online sales campaign for Shangri La Mactan has generated a significant increase in bookings. “We just used Facebook Carousel. We used Instagram Carousel as well. We are doing efforts like that so we have more channels to spread, or more channels to touch especially for consumers who are visual, who are actually looking into travelling. Slowly, we want to change the traditional image of Shangri La into something that is more progressive, cohesive and relevant,” Fajarda says.
Fajarda says the online campaign also generated a lot of inquiries from interested guests through Facebook Messenger. “We receive 100 messages everyday. They are asking for price, room nights, etc,” he says.
“On the brand side, we have observed that there is a 60-percent increase in web traffic because of the Facebook app referrals to our own website. We conducted an online sales last month and we saw an increase of 140 times than what we actually get from Google search ads. It is a good platform to convert people,” he says.
Dimagiba says Facebook can also supplement the traditional media in generating leads. “TV and Facebook are better together. When advertisers use Facebook and TV together, they get 8 percent more reach. They are able to reach more people, particularly the light viewers and it is also a very cost-effective and combination for them,” he says.
Dimagiba says Facebook, despite its dominant size, is expected to get even bigger in the Philippines in the coming years. “In April, when we opened the office, there were only 49 million active monthly users on Facebook. Now in October, we are happy to announce that there are 54 million Filipinos on Facebook. If you look at a span of six months, there are five million Filipinos who are now more active and engaged,” he says.
“I believe that we Filipinos really love connecting to each other. When we do business, it is all about connecting with people. The reason why you go to Facebook as a business or as a person is to make sure you keep having those connections that matter to you and share. You always have some kind of content or opinion and you use Facebook as the most effective medium to share that,” he says.
“Our mission is to make the Philippines more open and connected. We believe it is going to keep us growing. If you look at the Philippines, there are still 46 million Filipinos that we believe should be connected to the other 54 million. We continue to grow. Our population continues to expand. We want a big Filipino family on Facebook,” he says.