Jamming brand with Facebook
SCOTT OXFORD: 00:02.348 [music] G'day. I'm Scott Oxford and welcome to Brand Jam, the podcast where we love to jam about brand because brand is our jam. You can probably tell I'm somewhat of a brand evangelist. My day job is Head of strategy and creative for New Word Order, an Australian brand and creative agency. So I live and breath brand every day, and talking to people who own manage or empower brands is my happy place. A major place that brands live is in the online space, especially socials. So much discovery, connection and commerce happens on our phones, and we connect via the platforms we spend time on both socially and professionally. I said before that Facebook and particularly Instagram knows me so well that probably 70% minimum of my online purchases have come via that one platform, and I'm keen to explore exactly how that happens. So I'm going direct to the source. Today I'm jamming with Naomi Shepherd, group industry director at Facebook and Instagram.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 01:05.067 These content creators they're the tastemakers, they're the culture shapers, they're going to be very high demand.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:13.481 Naomi is living out Facebook's mission to bring the world closer together. The industry she works across cover FMCG, retail and e-commerce, where she's particularly focussed on helping businesses discover the power of mobile to grow their businesses, and helping millions of Australians discover them in their Facebook, Instagram newsfeeds on their mobiles. Naomi has extensive experience drawn from a career in broadcast and digital both locally and in New York, and the UK. And she once did a job for six years, a stint in US radio earning 100% commission. That is outrageously good. I wonder if that still happens any more? Naomi's a proud mum of three kids who says, "They've taught her to outsource, especially everything she can't prioritize, which means her Airtasker account gets a pretty serious workout." She's also a power Instagram user. That's my platform of choice too, if I haven't made that clear. She's an early riser, so am I. Late night coffee drinker who can sleep even after a double espresso, that's not me. And a French Bulldog mother. And Naomi says if she wasn't in brand building she'd be a midwife, birthing babies instead of stories but so far brand has one. Naomi, welcome, thanks for jamming with me today.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 02:24.016 Thanks. This is a real bright spot on my calendar three weeks into lockdown, who knows how many more left, homeschooling, so I've been looking forward to it. Nice to meet you.
SCOTT OXFORD: 02:32.449 Yeah. You too. My last guest is serving out some hotel quarantine in Sydney at the moment so it seems these are great opportunities for recording podcasts. I want to start with Instagram. And you said, you're a power Instagram user. How do you use it?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 02:46.738 Yeah. Look I'd say in a nutshell, I'm often in discovery mode on Instagram and open to all sorts of new brands which we'll obviously be talking about today but also new creators, communities, new ways of thinking. I was thinking about last year around the Black Lives Matter movement, and Instagram was actually where I went to sort of figure out that there's a lot more to be done in our own backyard. And really used Instagram as a launching pad for me to find out about how to buy more from black owned businesses, how to read more literature written by our First Nations people. All sorts of things. And so for me it's a full discovery platform. It's how I use it. And some people are voyeurs and some are creators, and I tend to do a lot of both. I like to look around a platform and find people and businesses and brands on there. But equally, I'm a power user in that I create a lot of content myself as well. It's not great, it's not good content, but I certainly create a lot of it, yeah.
SCOTT OXFORD: 03:49.166 Yeah. Well, there's nothing like actually sort of living within your own platform to understand how it works every day. And I'm like you, I learnt so much about Black Loves Matter movement and it's relevance to Australia in terms of the way-- particularly my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, the way they responded, and just the way everybody responded. It gave people an opportunity to participate, to learn and to even just show that they just didn't know very much and they were keen to know more didn't it?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 04:19.159 Yeah.
SCOTT OXFORD: 04:19.774 And that's powerful.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 04:19.940 And I think in their own small corner of the world to actually make a difference as well. Maybe instead of buying from that business I could buy from a black-owned business or instead of all of my bookshelf being written by white authors, maybe I could read some Indigenous literature as well. So yeah, I agree with you. For me, it sort of underpinned a lot of the action that I took after that movement.
SCOTT OXFORD: 04:43.758 Yeah. What I love about the platforms-- you mentioned creativity as well and there's that opportunity to be constantly inspired by the way that different people express themselves and the way they really push the boundaries of your platform and the tools that you're creating. Do you find that your R&D team are actually sort of learning sometimes from users new features just by observing the way things are happening online?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 05:07.337 Yeah. I mean, absolutely. Not sometimes. I would say almost 99% of the time. It's often looking at the way consumer behaviour is dictating what and how people are using the platforms. I remember when we launched a feature on Instagram around the shop tab, sort of the shopping feature where you can tap on a post and you can see all the product information come up, and again, that was built from a behaviour of people and also from businesses where people were looking at things on Instagram and taking it into, let's say, an Australian retailer like Country Road and saying, "I saw this dress on Instagram. Where do I find it?" and they were finding that they were getting a lot of that sort of inbound information like requests for information on their Instagram channels, on their social channels, and so just by creating this feature which was-- well, we could easily make that information available at a tap. That sort of reduces the stress on business to have to constantly feed out that information and it's really helpful for people too because they can go from that sort of moment of, oh, wow. I love that dress to tapping on it and potentially just going and buying it directly from the website. So yeah, a lot of the products that we build are often built on the behaviour of people on the internet.
SCOTT OXFORD: 06:22.135 Yeah. Absolutely. And I hear that you like to play a bit with the old reels and the gifs and--
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 06:30.002 Lots of reels.
SCOTT OXFORD: 06:30.950 Yeah. Yeah. So tell me about-- because I've been learning, I guess, a bit about reels and my 13-year-old is sort of an expert in that particular kind of space where she's teaching me about that all the time but what are some of the more interesting things you're seeing people do with reels?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 06:48.646 I mean, I love some of the audio features on there where you can take a line from a movie or a reality show and then turn it into something that is completely out of context and create your own sort of reel or story off the back of that. I think there's some amazing things being done with editing. These bright young creators who are making a living in places like Instagram and YouTube and TikTok and Snap and others, they're using these editing features to really create these moments that look magical. It's incredible that they're doing these things with an iPhone or with any kind of phone. Lots of transitions, really special editing around transitions, and you look and think, gosh, they must have a whole edit suite behind them trying to get this content live but I mean, I did one in my wardrobe the other day. I threw a shoe up in the air and I used the align tool in Reels and matched my foot where it was and all of a sudden my outfit changed and it was magic.
SCOTT OXFORD: 07:48.081 Yeah, it's super-fun. I'm a little behind the times. I'm still loving the layout feature for Instagram and I've got a whole channel where I basically take photographs and then use the feature in order to create sort of patterns and things like that, and I have a very modest following in that particular space, but for me, it's like sudoku as well. It's like there's a beautiful therapeutic quality to it but then it's that sense of creation and I think that's, for me, what Instagram did. It enabled me, as an amateur photographer, to be able to do a lot of things that were just not in my reach. I'm sure I could teach myself Photoshop if I really wanted to but the reality is I don't need to. I can actually have a lot of fun with this, and I curate my Instagram feed and I'm pretty selective about what goes on there and the like and it's my personal kind of expression, and that's the lovely sort of purity about it. And I think going back to what I said about the algorithms that are so sophisticated and clever now that I'm being served up things that I would never discover otherwise but I'm really grateful and thankful for, and opportunities to buy obscure and unusual things and reduced path of resistance. You know, make it nice and easy to do it and particular when Shopify is integrated as well, that ability to just buy so easily and have everything pre-filled, despite the fact that there's supposedly some privacy issues involved in that. That's another story, but I love that feature of it and so I love seeing these platforms work together the way you guys work together and make my experience sort of better and work. And obviously, you've got a puppy as well, so you contribute to the puppy photos on Instagram as well.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 09:34.355 Oh, yeah. Yeah, I definitely contribute to the French bulldog content on Facebook and Instagram in Australia. That's for sure. I just wanted to go back to your point around sort of serving you up things that you didn't know you wanted or that sort of moment of-- I think of it as quite serendipitous at times, those things that you didn't know you wanted to buy. That can sometimes be a problem for me but for others it's a-- and I do think that this idea of personalisation is getting a lot of attention at the moment. It's a much hyped word but I think with good reason because it's this idea of personalisation is present in so many aspects of our life and in some of the instances that you just mentioned. For me, it's being served all sorts of different advertising or whatever, or creators who are interested in a community that I didn't realise that they were all so interested in and those sort of moments of serendipitous discovery, but it's so important because the data or the information that we share with platforms and with businesses can actually help to organise and curate that content to provide a more personalised experience, and I think when it's tailored to our taste, those experiences and your feed and your algorithm, when those things are actually tailored to your taste, it can actually make the difference between feeling really overwhelmed at choosing a product or service or following a brand or a community, and actually feeling overjoyed. So there are some interesting trade-offs there and I love the way the personalisation engine works on our platforms but that's because I know so much about it, and I do think that there needs to be a lot more ownership around that debate around what is private and what is personalised, and is it privacy versus personalisation and is one traded off for the other? I don't think they're mutually exclusive and as a company, we don't believe they're mutually exclusive. We think that they can co-exist together, that there just need to be a lot of controls around both ends of the spectrum. So yeah, I was talking to my husband yesterday and he said-- just my hilarious moment. He's not on social media. It was my hilarious moment of just my husband understanding the internet [laughter] and he was like, "Damn it. Every time I go into the search bar and I type P-R, all I want to do is go to pro-football talk is the website that he goes to multiple times a day. And he said, "And all it comes up with is Prouds the Jewellers. Number one. I am not in the market for jewellery. And number two. If I were in the market for jewellery, I wouldn't be buying you jewellery from Prouds the Jewellers [laughter]." And I thought, "You know what? That is a frustrating experience for somebody who doesn't really think about what it's like to have a personalised experience on the internet. " So it can kind of make or break your experience. That there are definitely trade-offs. And I think where we're coming from as a company is to make sure that people have full control over both of those things: privacy and personalisation.
SCOTT OXFORD: 12:36.069 Yeah. I absolutely agree. And look, from the agency's side, when we're talking to our clients about how to use tools like Facebook and Instagram, we're basically saying, "This is somebody's private social feed." You need to earn your way in here, and you need to-- it means, you need to add value to their life. And the content you create, the work you're putting forward. What you're offering up needs to earn a right to be there. And it's all about good targeting and the better your targeting. It means not only are you spending your ad spend better because you're reaching the people who actually are going to connect with it, but also, you're taking the time to respect that user as well. And so it is that team. And as you say, there are multiple parts in that. You guys as a platform are taking care of your side of things. And at the end of the day, I'm a human being. I'm a grown-up. I need to take responsibility for my own spending. I can't blame a platform for continuously showing me things that I want to buy and me buying them. If I can't manage that, that's my own problem [laughter], not yous. Do you know what I mean? Anyway, that's probably a debate for another time. But everybody would have their own opinion on that. But yeah. I love that sort of personalisation thing. And interestingly, Google started it. That idea of raising the quality of search. So that you're being served up things that matter to you. But clearly, they haven't quite gotten it yet if your poor husband isn't getting served up the things that sort of really understand him and what he's about.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 14:04.116 I think he may have something to do with that. But I'm not here to cast blame.
SCOTT OXFORD: 14:08.350 No. And I love the fact that in your job, that you have a spouse who [laughter] isn't on social media. That's a classic. That's lovely. But that's the discretion we all have as human beings. To choose what we do and don't play in and on, so. But these platforms are great for connecting people with products. But they're also great for connecting people and other people. And so you've said that superpower is connecting people and things. And can you talk into that a little bit? Because I think things is just not products. Things is much more than products. So these algorithms, this technology, is-- and a lot of brains go into building this stuff. You, obviously, the biggest platform, one of the biggest platforms in the world, if not the biggest. So you need to be at the forefront of technology. Can you talk about this sort of fairly modern idea of brand building through areas like automation and design by machine; that kind of thing? Because you're really sort of wrangling all of these things to make the platform better and better, aren't you?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 15:13.511 Yeah. And look, I think it kind of touches a little bit back on what I was talking about right at the start is this notion of discovery. A lot of the algorithms that we create and a lot of the machine learning is based on making sure that your experience on our platforms feels unique to you. That it feels valuable to you. That it's serving you and your needs. And so thinking about the way you then brands are built with this new notion of discovery, that's something that we're really interested in, and we're quite interested to speak to brands and marketers about. And there's this study that came out of the University of London just recently, which I can share with you and your audience. Where anthropologists took a really deep look at the role that not just social media just mobile phones and smartphones are playing in people's lives. And it sort of came to this conclusion is that smartphones are where people live, and they think about smartphones in the way that they think about their homes. That is their own very, very personal device. And what does that look like? It looks like, in the little moments where you sort of punctuate these five-minute breaks throughout the day, when you're waiting for the elevator, when you're sort of waiting for your bus-- all those little moments that you're actually-- you have this capacity that you've never had before to tune into a video or to join a new community or to quickly buy a product-- like I often do and then wake up the next day and go, "Wait. Did I order that?" But all of these different things-- and maybe to browse a newsletter from a brand or whatever.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 16:48.843 You can do all of these things on your phone. And I think, while it has a downside, being so connected to a smart phone-- which I think we all understand what that is-- what the research has said is, "Let's caution against this overtly negative view of the evolving role of smartphones in our lives and actually start to think about how it's helping us recreate this vast range of really helpful behaviours and new behaviours that we potentially didn't have before. And for marketers, I think that's sort of a scenario where any given moment in anyone's day is a moment for discovery. And if you can think about it like that, it fundamentally changes the role of marketing from being this shouty, loud speaker at people to actually integrating themselves into their lives and making sure that the product, features and benefits or the services that they provide are actually truly valuable to the person on the other end of that phone that they feel like is their home.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 17:53.147 So this is a real shift in brand-building behaviour, isn't it? It used to be about captured audiences and long-form beautiful films. And those things still are really important building blocks in building brands. But building modern brands, I think, requires us to understand that times have changed and people's behaviours have changed and they are living in different places now. And through this research what these researchers found is that they're living in their phones. We understand that, but that can actually have wide-ranging benefits as well as some of the negative things that we tend to focus on.
SCOTT OXFORD: 18:31.268 Yeah. Well, things like multi-screening, too. The reality is, last night, during State of Origin, which is big in Queensland-- and we had a good night last night; not a good run all up but a good night last night. But even sort of the fact that most people viewing that would have probably been into their platforms, not just on their phone but actually in and out of platforms, commenting, sharing, participating in it as part of a community, making a buying decision at the time because they got their audience right. And it's probably this combination of all of those spaces working together. And as you say, the whole ecosystem's changed. We can either winge and moan and be afraid of it or recognize that a smartphone is an access tool now and start to think of it in that way. And we will use it as we choose to use it, and relevance is absolutely important.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 19:21.427 Yeah.
SCOTT OXFORD: 19:21.143 So it's got to earn that right. Like I mentioned before, it's got to earn that right. And everything that you look at earns its right into your life because it's relevant and it's meeting a need that you have at that time, whether you knew it or not. So, yeah, I think it's clever. And I think for those-- most of us are fairly oblivious to the details behind technology. We're just constantly expecting new and amazing things to come out. And I'm sure that-- I imagine Facebook's R&D department is a very, very-- powerhouse of some of the world's most incredible brains that are just responding constantly and, as you mentioned before, really responding to customers' needs, whether they're expressing them explicitly to you, or just by observing their behaviours and the conversations that are happening.
SCOTT OXFORD: 20:04.539 And it's very easy to see-- like we started out talking about Black Lives Matter, this conversation as it plays out across a platform like Instagram, in your wider circle of contacts, you get a very, very clear temperature of what's going on out there. And so that's pretty interesting. And it's really much the same as us watching TV. We choose a program we want to watch, and we get served up some-- the better-targeted ads actually work for us. So the world is-- it's different technology, but it's really the same game. And at the end of the day, it's all about connection. And it's a connection tool. And you guys connect to people, but you also connect people with products and services and things that they need. And I think we love that. And if we don't, we have a whole lot of settings that we can jump in and change that. There's a whole bunch of groups on Facebook that I'd just realized I'd signed up to, and I didn't want to quit them, but I just wanted to manage them. And I just loved how easy it was to just make-- I got given seven different options, and I recognised at any time, I would want to use one of those options. And I loved that the choice was in my hands to just instantly solve that and put it back in its place. So that my feed was what I wanted it to be again, so.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 21:17.276 Yeah. Yeah. And look, a lot of people don't realise that they have those tools available to them. So one thing that I think the platforms do well is to pretty consistently serve up that information in the places where people are looking for it at the time. So right within their feed. "Hey, why am I seeing this ad?" You can click this, and you can understand why you're seeing it. That you're part of a potentially demographic group, or you're in a certain geography that is relevant to this advertiser. And by the way, you can control that you never see an ad from that advertiser again, if that's what you choose to do. So a lot of the control is in the hands of people to curate those experiences just as you explained. Whether it's around advertising or groups or a certain friend who's just got engaged, and you know what? You just don't want to see another engagement because you've split up from your partner. That's fine too.
SCOTT OXFORD: 22:07.262 Yeah. But I love that that benefits the user, but it benefits the brand who is legitimately buying time. And they buy some space based on a demographic, and it's helping them not waste advertising dollars on me because I don't want to see an ad, for example, on betting anymore. I'm in the right demographic for guys who bet, but, for me, I don't want to be served up those ads. I click that link. I click that toggle, and I no longer get that. And they no longer waste money serving me an ad. So it's a win-win both ways, which is the way it should be. So yeah. So I mentioned before in my work in the agency, we have a lot of clients. We use your platforms extensively for a whole range of our clients. So by day, my team creates work that lives on the platform. And at night, I use it as a very, very, I guess, creative outlet. I mentioned before my Sudoku or just my way of sharing my little bit of artistry with the world. We mentioned, I guess, a bit before about creators and the use of the creator economy and these incredible tools. How do you see this new importance of creators in brand building? Maybe dig into that a little bit more.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 23:19.153 Yeah, sure. I mean, creators just first and foremost, I think, that these very professional, very-- and they are professional. A year ago, could you say, "Mum, I want to be an influencer and do that as my job"? You would have been laughed out of the room. I think it's now becoming-- people kind of know what an influencer is. My stepdad's 85. He knows what an influencer is. So it's becoming more prevalent, right? I think one thing that we've done as a company, and I see it happening right across the industry - this is not unique to Facebook - is just thinking about how do you serve that creator community better? So how do we think about creators in their own right? What are the tools and systems that they need to create, certainly, audiences on our platforms, but then go and monetise those audiences and make a living? Make a living from being creative. So how do we reward and sufficiently compensate them for the work that they're doing and the work is great? I think when it comes to brands, creators are going to be the ultimate brand mascots either at the end of this year or certainly, moving into next year. And it kind of is the counterpoint to what you were just talking about with targeted advertising. I think what creators offer brands is access to whole new audiences that they can't reach through being the brand themselves. And they do that, creators do that, by offering a unique voice that the brand don't have. Potentially, some authenticity or credibility in an area that the brand might not have access to. If you're a brand, and we see this a lot on our platform-- it's one of the number one uses of small businesses. If you're a brand or a business that's trying try to launch in a new country where you've got no brand awareness at all, creators are an amazing way to get into the hearts and minds of a whole new group of consumers. So look, I think certainly, finding new customers that the brand don't already have a relationship, I think, influence the marketing or this sort of combining with the creator economy, I think, will outshine a lot of current forms of marketing in time when it comes to brand building. And one thing that I've been talking to a lot of brands about is if you have great influencer partnerships in place today, I think you're in tremendous shape, because these content creators, they're the taste-makers, they're the culture-shapers, they're going to be in very high demand, I think, in the next 6 to 12 months. And brands are and should be working with them to stay ahead of some of the longer-term shifts that we're seeing in things like live video and social commerce and conversational commerce, audio, all sorts of things. But I'm really, if you can't tell, super-jazzed about creators. I think they actually get a pretty unfair rap. Particularly in Australia right now, I've noticed that the narrative around influencer marketing is a bit that it's murky and unmeasurable and a kid with an iPhone that wants to be famous and I just don't think-- that couldn't be further from the truth. I think it's vibrant and creative and forward-thinking and very measurable and brand-safe and I think it offers brands a whole lot that they probably don't have access to today.
SCOTT OXFORD: 26:39.068 Yeah. And it's a big over-used word but it's true authenticity there. These creators have a lot of trust. I think that bad rap comes around sort of, I guess, the macro-influencers, the glossy, flashy, the Kardashians or the like, and there is a cynicism toward them, but I think what you're talking about is much more those micro-influencers who have these really special dedicated communities where they have an incredible relationship. They're incredibly niche and very, very specific and they're--
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 27:09.301 I think it's both. I think it's both. I think it's macro and micro. I mean, macro-influencers, they make their fame in other ways and then they bring it to platforms like Instagram and TikTok and others, but Kylie Jenner, fine. I'd partner with her if I were a brand. I mean, the woman's got a billion-dollar makeup line and she's never spent a cent on advertising. There's some power in that. So I do think it's both.
SCOTT OXFORD: 27:34.043 I think maybe it's the tall poppy syndrome. I think it's the tall poppy syndrome. I think that's it.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 27:37.912 We love that in Australia.
SCOTT OXFORD: 27:38.778 Yeah, we do. And that's kind of what I clumsily was referring to there was that these macro-influencers, there's almost this love to hate them kind of thing which sort of tars the whole thing and in reality, we're all just plain jealous. We look at these people who are doing just by being themselves on a platform and these platforms have given them world access, and people don't follow them because they don't want to. People follow them because they want to and they care about them and they trust them and they're interested in them, and they're interested in what they're wearing and what their taste is, and yeah, it's just I have special admiration, I think, for those very, very grassroots micro influencers who come--
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 28:18.222 So do I.
SCOTT OXFORD: 28:18.920 --out of pure creativity and they earn their way not because of any fame or anything else. And that's no disrespect to the big guys but it is just when you see these people pop out of nowhere and they're just special and they're unique and they find an audience and you just couldn't be happier for them.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 28:34.398 And they're so funny.
SCOTT OXFORD: 28:35.398 Yeah.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 28:35.946 Some of them are hilarious. I think we want to reward creators. I love that we're building this business around how to serve creators better, and we want to reward them, particularly the small creators that you're talking about, those sort of micro, more aspiring creators, because number one, they create a lot of value for our communities. Number two, they're right ahead the product curves so they're really interested in trying new features, and number three, we want them to know that they can make a living with us. Actually, we just announced-- I think I can mention it now because we announced it today that by the end of next year, we've announced a creator investment of $1 billion so that we want to invest a $1 billion in creators across both Facebook and Instagram by the end of next year, which I just think is phenomenal, as well as all the tools and products and services that support them.
SCOTT OXFORD: 29:30.011 Yeah, to give them what they need to do that. And at the end of the day, it's their sheer talent. You create the platform and the opportunity, but it's their sheer talent. And I think that's it. You're giving people the opportunity for an audience and that is exciting. And I think brands are more enthusiastically allowing them to-- they're giving away a bit of that control, aren't they?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 29:51.233 Yes.
SCOTT OXFORD: 29:51.821 They're letting sometimes these influencers interpret their brand in their own way.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 29:54.834 Yeah. And we've said to them, "Enthusiastically give control away. Really let them do something special with your brand because chances are you haven't thought of a way to do that yet, because you think of it from the brand perspective, and then definitely they have access to audiences that you, Mr. Brand Manager, probably don't have access to today. So yeah, really think about how they can become trusted consultants for you."
SCOTT OXFORD: 30:22.336 Yeah, and brave brands. And look, the best advice I get from guests on this when I say, "What's your best piece of advice to other brands?" it's be brave. Be adventurous. Try new things. Don't be bland. Don't be beige. I mean, this is an exciting way and there's just that wonderful, I guess, giving back. There's almost a corporate social responsibility box that you're ticking there. You're actually supporting people who deserve it. You're teaching them how to help people they would otherwise have nothing to do with and I think there's something beautifully democratic about that. There's a bit of the equality that comes from anyone has an opportunity and we love that. We love that in Australian Idol or American Idol or Britain's Got Talent. We love seeing people who otherwise wouldn't find an audience do that, so it's a big, big global movement.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 31:13.724 Yeah. I hadn't actually thought about it that way before but yeah, you're right. You're investing in an area that probably needs a bit of investment.
SCOTT OXFORD: 31:20.369 Yeah. Yeah. And for people who couldn't get government funding, who wouldn't certainly have any other way of connecting in and showing their wares to a big brand and we're creating a platform and allowing their talent to naturally rise them up to a point at which a brand can take notice and so yeah, that's really cool. I love it. So you were at Facebook when they first launched ads on Instagram, and I remember that. I was fairly early adopter of Instagram and so I remember the announcement that ads were coming, but clearly, introducing something like that would have had some highs and some lows. What are the triumphs and the mistakes that happened in that time?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 32:03.297 Yeah. I mean, yes, you're absolutely right, and I don't think I've ever told this story before but it was in 2014 or '16. I can't remember. You could probably tell me.
SCOTT OXFORD: 32:13.228 I can't remember either.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 32:13.772 But we launched ads on Instagram for the first time, and look, I think the beauty of Instagram today is that it shows up in lots of different ways, so the way that you were talking about before how you sort of curate it, you want it to be perfect for your photography and you want to own that grid, you want it to be just so, but I think actually, the beauty of it is that it shows up in every day life as well, so it's the reels, blooper reel or the funny things, you don't mind falling flat on your face, Stories really give you a peek behind the curtain, those sort of little moments that punctuate your day. There's no pressure to be perfect. In fact, it's more accepted in places like Stories if you aren't perfect, if it's not [crosstalk] curated.
SCOTT OXFORD: 32:58.143 And I do that. I do that. That's where everything else goes, yeah.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 33:02.320 Yeah. And so I think for me that's the beauty of Instagram today. Where we got it wrong, in a nutshell, is we wanted everything to be so perfect on Instagram when the ads first came in. And it was only feed there was no stories, there was nothing it was just feed. And so we worked with brands like Vegemite and McDonald's, and Ben & Jerry's and I think a travel experience of tourism destination and we worked with them for weeks, months on what their content would like, what was your objective, all of the things around advertising but on the content it just had to be perfect and so polished And that was fine for launch because we've really got to show some beautiful campaigns. Campaigns are great and they generated results, which was kind of the main thing, mostly around brand metrics. But moving forward we really created a rod for our own back because sort of a year on from that moment advertisers were coming to us and saying, "I've got this campaign for Facebook, but I've also got this one for Instagram, and it's so perfect, and I've got this one piece of content and it's going to sit like the jewel in the crown on my feed." And towards the end we were saying, "Why don't you put that campaign on Facebook and Instagram?" They were like, "No, no, no I would never put something on Instagram that wasn't perfect." And that really created an issue for us because it wasn't hat the user wanted. And this pressure to be perfect just meant that we simply weren't scaling, we weren't scaling that advertising effort. So I think we got that right in the end through a bunch of different tactics. One was to sort of shift the narrative little bit more around what is it that the Australian Instagram user wants and expects from brands? And it's that they connect to-- 80% of Australians are connected to brands on Instagram, and they want to hear from them many times a day, so that's the expectation. And then on the other side we did it through a lot of machine learning and through a lot of the back-end which was to say if you've got a piece of content that it's not shaped in the right way, we can automatically cut it so that it's-- you can just feed it into the system, and we will create the perfect Instagram post for you, and that can sort of go across multiple platforms. So there was less effort on the advertisers' behalf as well. And then well, hey, here we are today. It's going pretty well.
SCOTT OXFORD: 35:29.941 Yeah. It comes up almost every episode that failure is essential to success. You've got to try some stuff and I probably really appreciate it as one of those perfectionistic users. I appreciated how lovely and beautiful it was, but I really enjoy the diversity and creativity particularly on Instagram ads, and it's clearly working, and it's doing its job on me that's for sure. I want to ask to about-- it must be interesting as a platform your focus is Australia, but as a global platform you're across many, many cultures. How does culture and cultural relevance impact on brand building, do you think?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 36:20.112 Yeah. I mean, I think there's a bit of a land grab for who owns culture from a lot of the platforms around the world at the moment. I culture owned by TV where people go off into escape and sort of to lose themselves in long narratives and yes that could be so or is culture owned by places like Facebook and Instagram where culture plays out but it's also made through movements like Black Lives Matter and the rise of the marriage equality votes, support for that all sorts of things. Or is it owned on places like TikTok where hashtags are being created and then products are flying off the shelves because people say TikTok made them buy it. There's all these different things, and I think one thing is true is that culture can live in many different places. And I think as brands there's such an amazing opportunity to tap into that, wherever you place your advertising or however you show up as a brand. But cultural relevance I think, to be at the beating heart of culture in places like Instagram, to see culture playing out on our platforms globally, bringing global culture locally and taking local culture globally, I think that's an amazing thing that didn't always exist before, and being able to tap into that cultural relevance as a brand. I don't think it's new, the idea of tapping into culture but the way that you do it is new.
SCOTT OXFORD: 37:52.897 And it's more accessible than ever before. I remember when - I'm old enough to remember when the internet was invented - and I remember I was in high school-- no primary school even, I think I was doing a research project, my Dad hopped on the train, went into town to a specific book shop to buy a book to bring it back so that I had a copy, some information fo a couple of paragraphs that we couldn't find in a library. That was how we found-- the internet then gave us growing access to information and data. And what the social platforms have given us is the ability to no only interact, but also to create and to be a part of that cultural movement and the cultural setting. And so it is that sort of progression and it's all about accessibility. We have reached that point in time where, yeah, there are people who don't have smartphones and there are people who don't use computers, but even if they don't have their own they've often got access to it, and to--
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 38:50.856 And I guess it's sort of-- you mentioned before, thinking about how your Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends experienced the Black Lives Matter movement. I think, well certainly lots of people that I'm friends with and connected with have thought of ways to embed themselves more in First Nations culture and it-- we recently launched a movement, only a week and a half ago, which is really about that, which is connecting people to Indigenous culture through our platforms. And the reason we did that is number one, to spread far and wide the really positive stories of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island people and communities because we don't think they're offered really a fair go in mainstream media. And so we want to be able to hear the stories, share them as told by First Nations people, and just spread them across our platforms. And number two is, we want people to connect to that culture by connecting to the country that they stand on, and Facebook and Instagram are so specific to where you stand geographically and really pick up on the places that you are that it feels like the right platform to power that kind of movement. It's called Connect to Country but really what we're asking people to do is connect to First Nations culture, be proud of First Nations culture, and connect more with the oldest continuous living culture there is on the planet. I just don't think as Australians we're super-duper proud of that and so we're trying to work to course correct that.
SCOTT OXFORD: 40:21.685 Yeah. Absolutely. And again you're providing a platform and access for people who aren't currently able to tell their stories and to communicate information that people can't. And I love the idea that my smartphone can tell me which nation, which Aboriginal nation I'm in at any one time. I love that aspect of story and the more you understand and interact with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, the more you understand that their entire culture is quite mindblowing in the way, in the role of country and connection and there's-- in the same way as my Chinese friends taught me some amazing things about family and the way-- around the way they do family, I love what I am learning from my Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends. But some of us don't have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander friends, so again, this is access to people we would otherwise not have access to and I can't fault that. That's awesome. Back to commerce, we've seen a pretty radical shake-up of commerce in Australia in the last 18 months and how brands have changed their strategies to the much-mentioned pandemic. Clearly, social's played a big part in that, and how have you seen that from your perspective?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 41:41.072 Yeah. I mean, brands have changed but people have changed, haven't they? From sort of, visiting shopping malls and the day that you go and do your shopping, to just now always shopping, and always buying online, and trying on sunglasses virtually from your couch but so those sorts of things have changed a lot. I think last year when COVID shut down a lot of local economies, it also brought a lot of people online, and we've seen those behaviours remain pretty sticky. So it brought a lot of new people online as well who've said that they're not really going to revert back to 100% of the way that they used to do things. So one thing that we did was, we're always-- commerce is in our DNA, Facebook has always had had its finger in the commerce pies for many, many years. But one thing that we were working on was shops. Facebook shops and Instagram shops. And that was something that we accelerated to help businesses sell online, particularly small businesses. A lot of them don't have a really fancy website or a great place to showcase their products. And just a year later, I think we've got about 300 million monthly shops visitors that are coming to the platform and about a million and a half active shops on the platform and a lot of those are small businesses. So the shift to online, this idea of social-first shopping, I don't think it's temporary. I think we can definitely say that now.
SCOTT OXFORD: 43:11.983 We're well habituated in it now and, yeah. But it's also-- I love the fact that for those small businesses, they don't have the budget to update their website, necessarily, or create an online store and to have a tool that enables them to have a good looking, great functioning presence that gives them that access has just helped that pivot and helped a lot of them sort of stay alive and they've had to innovate but you've actually-- they've been given the tools that help them make it happen without a massive investment.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 43:46.502 We've tried to make it as painless as possible. And it's not just small businesses. If you think-- I think the best example is Nike. Is they've got one nike.com. The front page of their website is the front page, that's it. But the front page of their shop on Facebook is dependent on what you're looking for. So for me, it's really brightly coloured sports bras and trainers that I don't necessarily run in. For you, it might be something completely different. So that first thing that you experience when you go to Nike to buy something online through shops is different for everyone and personalised for everyone. So it really has benefits to big businesses, small businesses, creators now as well can create their own shops. So yeah, I love that we did that. I love that we accelerated it so quickly to sort of aid some of that economic turnaround and we're seeing that the behaviour has remained.
SCOTT OXFORD: 44:43.579 Yeah, absolutely. So we're talking about you gave away that Nike is a brand that for you-- I want to take you back to as early as you can remember when you first became aware of a brand that meant something to you that-- do you remember the first time you kind of connected with a brand?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 45:00.632 I do. I thought a lot about this question but I didn't have to think very hard. It was Smith's Chips. So when I was growing up in primary school in Australia, the Gobbledok was a big character and a much-loved character in my little classmate of-- like within our classroom of five S and one of the projects we had at school one day was to write a letter to a company and see if you got a reply. And you had to set out the letter properly with the address and the date and all that sort of stuff. And so I sent one to Smith's and said, "I love the Gobbledok and I love your chips. And this is my favourite flavour." And about six weeks later, the Smith's delivery driver turns up at the canteen with a box. And I mean, it's quite fortuitous I happened to be standing there at the time and he said, "Is there a Naomi Christus in here?" and I said, "That's me." and he had this big box of stickers, like 1,000 stickers, and they were all of the Gobbledok and he said, "Share them with your friends." And I mean, I was the most popular kid at school. And I still buy my kids Smith's chips. I've just got this weird brand loyalty to Smith's because they connected with me. They found a way to find me, reach out to me, make it feel personal. I know that was done through a letter and a delivery driver but there are so many ways that brands can do that today, not just through our platforms. But it really had such a long-lasting-- I still remember the feeling of this guy showing up for me. It was amazing.
SCOTT OXFORD: 46:31.073 Yeah. That's a brand deeply honouring its customer and rewarding its customer. And yeah, particularly making you the hero of the day as well. That's incredible. I understand why you couldn't possibly buy anything else. What about today? You mentioned Nike before but is there another brand today that you would say-- let's talk about trust. Is there a brand that you trust?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 46:57.070 Yeah. There's a brand that I only became aware of only a few years ago and became a customer about a year ago, which is Modibodi. And it's a brand of underwear for women. And they call it the period-proof undies and leak-proof undies. And for me, it solved a challenge around wanting something quite environmentally friendly around sort of feminine hygiene products. So it solved a problem there. It gives you a sense of confidence as well because you know they're never going to leak. And so I really trust it because it's not a cheap product, it's very well manufactured, I know where it's manufactured, I know what it's made from, I know that it's reusable. So once I found out about the brand-- and then I saw their advertising and of course I'm clicked into advertising, being in the industry, and I saw real women in their campaign. Women who didn't have the perfect body. Some of them were amputees. They were all different colours. They were all different shapes. And I loved that.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 48:05.265 I saw that all sort of through that out-of-home media. I saw it in social. I saw the way they embraced just talking normally about periods. Every second person on the planet is generally going to get one at some point, so. And it's just a really normal thing. And then I heard the story from the founder, Kristy Chong, just about how she'd developed the product and over how many years. And I thought, "Yeah. This is a brand I trust." She actually told this incredible story about a woman who reached out to her to thank her for allowing her disabled daughter who had bought the product more dignity in her school because she didn't need the teacher to go and change her menstruation products anymore. It was just a fantastic story. It's a female founder, blah, blah, blah. So I just thought, "That's a brand I can trust." I think their product's fantastic. I think their story's amazing. And I think they've got a pretty good brand as well.
SCOTT OXFORD: 48:56.327 Yeah. I love that idea that a great brand is medicine, not vitamin. And when a brand actually solves a problem for you, doesn't just make life easier, like that, it's an absolutely sort of powerful and compelling one. But yeah, ticking so many boxes there. So I love that story. Thank you. We obviously don't like to talk about, name, brands that have broken trust with us but sometimes, my guests talk about categories and the like. Is there an area of brand that you would say you don't trust? Or even a brand itself that you don't trust?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 49:39.099 There was a story that I was just talking to one of my friends about this morning and I think it really taps into this idea of brand trust. He said, "This is the most boring story but I'm so frustrated by it I just want to tell you. I bought a computer monitor because we're all working from home at the moment and my broke and I went to an electronics retailer about two weeks ago. Anyway, he's just thinking, where is this monitor? I don't have it yet. And he gets a phone call and he answers the phone, and they said, "Oh, hello. We've got your order that we got seven business ago. Thank you so much for that. We're just calling to let you know that we don't have any product in stock but it's going to take another four to six weeks to get this monitor to you," and he went, "Are you joking?" He used the f-word which was so rude, but his point was his expectation of that brand was I ordered it from your website, I expect it to be in process and being delivered at some point in the next week, but it fell so short of his expectations, and I think all of our expectations around online shopping have increased exponentially in the last 18 months, was that not only have you not even put it on a truck yet, but you're calling me seven business days later. First of all, you're calling me. I don't want to hear from you. I ordered it online. Reach out to me on Messenger or something. You're calling me to tell me that you don't have it in stock and it's been over a week since I did it and I just thought--
SCOTT OXFORD: 51:10.624 I needed to know this back when I placed that order.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 51:13.262 Yeah. I think it just fell so short of expectations, and a brand is not just about the messaging that they give you or the product that you enjoy. It has to be about the experience that you have with them at all points of the journey, and it just fell so far short it's not funny. And I said, "Will you ever shop there again?" He said, "Absolutely not."
SCOTT OXFORD: 51:35.944 Done. Done. All over.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 51:37.131 Bye.
SCOTT OXFORD: 51:38.301 Absolutely. No, good story. Great story. You may have already answered this in the Modibodi answer but I sometimes ask not just a brand that you trust, but is there a brand that you actually would say that you love?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 51:51.584 Yes. I love and am obsessed with and have spoken a lot about a brand called Sweat [laughter] and I'm such a fangirl. It's a bit embarrassing. It's a fitness app and it's from a personal trainer called Kayla Itsines from my home town in Adelaide, so maybe there's a little bit of brand love there. But they honestly dominate my every thought. I use it every day [laughter] but also, they build community. They have over 50 million women from around the world who rely on them to be fit and healthy and mentally stable. I think as a brand, they are using every asset available to them. They do lives, they do meet-ups, they have community groups, they have feedback things on Facebook, just every single thing that they can do. The trainers tell their story about how they go to where they are. They're building a deep emotional sort of connection and I think that's one of the things for me that's key to building brand experiences in social is that socially so ubiquitous in everyone's lives. We're watching videos, we're making reels, we're doing all of the things, we're WhatsApping, we're Messenger, we're doing everything. As a brand, you've got to think about how social plugs into the broader consumer experience, so always come back to the problems that you're solving for people and then think of the opportunities to delight them and take people's social experiences and don't divorce it from what you're doing elsewhere. Social is so often a let's do this beautiful campaign. Now, what are we doing in social? Don't do that. Really think about how it plays a role in people's lives.
SCOTT OXFORD: 53:29.713 Integration.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 53:31.469 And I think Sweat do that brilliantly and they've got a fantastic product.
SCOTT OXFORD: 53:35.394 Yeah. Clearly with a following like that and with earning that-- you have a lot of things competing for your time and they've earned, and there are a lot of opportunities in the fitness world. I'm into fitness myself and there are a lot of different things that compete for my time, so for one platform to get it so right that it owns that much of your life in that space and rewards you is big kudos to them, so that's very cool.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 54:00.816 Yes. And they just sold their business for $400 million.
SCOTT OXFORD: 54:05.184 Good for them.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 54:06.042 [crosstalk] yesterday.
SCOTT OXFORD: 54:06.838 Oh, nice.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 54:07.649 Amazing.
SCOTT OXFORD: 54:08.414 Yeah. Yeah, a little bit jealous right now [laughter] in a good way. In a good way.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 54:13.965 But I think the key message is don't forget emotional brand experiences in social. Brand experience is so often very functional on our platforms or they're really frivolous, one-off experiments. And I think those brands that are doing that, they're missing the opportunities to really develop deep memory structures, to develop deep, emotional engagement with a brand. You can absolutely do that in social environments. You really can.
SCOTT OXFORD: 54:43.877 And, look, great campaigns from traditional areas like TV predominantly. There's Rhonda and Ketut, who we followed their story over a whole series. I think there's really great opportunities for stories to unfold over sort of many months, and years even, in the social space, and we get excited about following those stories too. So yeah, that's kind of exciting. That probably leads me to my last question about Facebook, or Facebook and Instagram. You guys, is there any little hints you can give us as to new technologies or new things that are heading along our way in the near future?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 55:22.505 Yeah, well, one thing-- I think I've just touched on it a little then around Messenger. That's one area that we're really making a lot of investment in. Last year particularly, we saw a lot of those conversations between people and businesses really explode. Particularly on Instagram and Messenger, we saw them increase by about 40%. And so a lot of the investment will go into those types of experiences. I think, like, 50% of Aussie millennials that we surveyed in a recent survey said they're going to use a Messenger service or they already do to contact business and have done in sort of the last month. So we're definitely seeing that behaviour there, and that's where we're making a lot of investments, really, is sort of Messenger as a customer service channel. I don't think we've made any secrets about where augmented and virtual reality is going and how that might sort of evolve into wearable type technology. So we have a whole team at Facebook called Facebook Reality Labs.
SCOTT OXFORD: 56:27.888 Cool.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 56:27.888 And these guys, men and women, are exceptional, 10, 15, 20 years ahead of the curve. And so thinking about all sorts of things that might be placed somewhere on your body. Who knows? What have we got today? We've got headsets, and glasses, and watches. And I've got a portal. There's all sorts of things that we're thinking about when it comes to hardware and wearables. So that's another area. I think as people are thinking about how they continue to shop through our platforms, across particularly Facebook, but also WhatsApp, and Messenger, and Instagram, is that we're really encouraging businesses to think of the future, that it's no longer about having the experience in-store and then being very functional online. It's about bringing that experience to your online channels because that's more and more where consumers are dictating that that's where they want to be and that's where they want to shop. And I think there's all sorts of amazing things that brands and retailers can do there around trying on new things or placing furniture in their room and all that sort of stuff, so.
SCOTT OXFORD: 57:34.765 Yeah, seeing how it looks.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 57:35.671 That stuff, I think. Yeah, I think it's got that magical woo-woo factor, but it's also highly functional. It's helpful for people, so.
SCOTT OXFORD: 57:43.485 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, it becomes medicine. Yeah, it's not just nice to have. It makes my life tangibly better and easier and simpler or helps me do something I just otherwise wouldn't be able to do, and that's pretty magical, so.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 57:57.384 Look, there's all sorts of things coming down the pipe in terms of augmented and virtual reality, and a lot of brands that we talk to say, "Oh, I want to do that," and we're like, "Just do these five things really well first, so by the time that comes along and you can access it, you're ready to tap into the opportunity. So get your product feeds updated, get your shops in order, make sure that all of the sort of screws are tightened, that you're doing everything great first in terms of the fundamentals, so by the time this product launches you're at the top of the list to go and try it out."
SCOTT OXFORD: 58:34.472 Yeah. Brilliant advice. And perfect lead-in to is there any sort of one great big piece of advice you'd love to give brands when potentially looking from the outside in to your platforms? What would you say to brands as an invitation, I guess?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 58:53.554 I think the key thing for brands to remember is that it's not about utility versus emotion. I think those two things are much closer than we think, and that if a customer experience works really well, that can actually be quite beautiful. So I would think about that.
SCOTT OXFORD: 59:11.379 I love that because it's about that subliminal side of brands. It's the things that connect in with us that we're not conscious of but actually imbue the qualities and the values of a brand by the way they behave and the way they treat you, and the way they even treat you creatively, actually treating you as an intelligent, artistic, creative human being who is hungry for good, innovative, interesting, creative content and will reward you by being loyal to your brand and by buying your products or services. So great piece of advice. My last question I ask everyone-- you're probably in a bit of a dream job, I would imagine. You're in a pretty amazing company but is there a dream brand that you've never worked on or for but you'd like to one day?
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 01:00:03.230 That's a good question. I'm very loyal to Qantas. I love the heritage behind Qantas. I love that they constantly put themselves ahead of the curve. I'm proudly Australian. I think they're amazing in the reconciliation space. Yeah. Maybe Qantas. I don't know. I've never thought about it before.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:00:21.119 Yeah. Cool. No, there is no wrong answer. That's a pretty cool question. Naomi, it's been awesome to chat today and to--
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 01:00:31.847 Likewise.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:00:32.460 --go under the hood so to speak a little bit in terms of what you guys are doing and just, I think, to hear that heart of it. Certainly, for me, that's been pretty amazing to hear, the spirit that goes on behind what I experience when I log on a platform every day. And I think just to shout out that we log on for our smart phone. This platform is put together by a whole lot of human beings and their amazing brains and it's the platform built by lots and lots of amazing people and then it's populated by lots and lots of amazing people, and to my mind, it might be a little bit twee of me to say or a little bit shiny to sort of say but I just love what these platforms do for communities and for connection, the way they bring people together and the way they champion the little guy, and I just loved hearing all about that today. So it's been brilliant. Thanks so much.
NAOMI SHEPHERD: 01:01:26.813 My pleasure. Thanks so much for having me. I loved it. I loved nerding out on brand.
SCOTT OXFORD: 01:01:30.937 Yeah, yeah [laughter]. We'll have to do it again. [music] To finish off, I asked Naomi for her favourite quote on the topic of brand and it's from Sir Martin Sorrell who says, "All the people in our industry look back with rose-tinted glasses at the Don Draper era when they think about long-term brand-building. It may be that life has become shorter term. It may be that attention spans have diminished. It may be that we have to be more activation-focused. Life has changed." My studio producer's Zane Weber. Music is by Phil Slade and brand and art direction by Andrew McGuckin and my team at New Word Order. I'm Scott Oxford. Thanks for joining Naomi and I today on Brandjam. [music] [silence] [music]