“Why is Facebook booming? Because people want to share”

By: Euan Black - Posted on: June 30, 2017 | Business

Prior to Inspire Asean’s social media business networking lunch, Southeast Asia Globe spoke to leaders at Havas Media about the importance of having a comprehensive social media strategy in a country where the smartphone reigns supreme

The spread of smartphones has seen almost five million Cambodians using Facebook.
The spread of smartphones has seen almost five million Cambodians using Facebook. Photo: Creative Commons

At a glitzy press conference held at the Raintree co-working space in Phnom Penh on Thursday evening, Havas Riverorchid launched the Cambodian arm of its digital agency, Socialyse. Southeast Asia Globe spoke to Olivier Gonzalez, Socialyse’s Global CEO, Anthony Keck, Havas Riverorchid Cambodia’s managing director, and Vishnu Mohan, CEO of Havas Southeast Asia and India, about Facebook’s dominance in Cambodia and the need for companies to engage with young Cambodians via mobile applications.

Olivier Gonzalez, Anthony Keck and Vishnu Mohan.
Olivier Gonzalez, Anthony Keck and Vishnu Mohan.

Why is now the right time to launch Socialyse in Cambodia?

Anthony: With [Cambodia’s expanding] internet penetration; with everything going towards social and digital and the use of mobile devices to access technology and information, the time is right.

There are a lot of people doing digital. A lot of companies have digital departments, but they’re not really experts. It’s not a criticism of those departments, but if you don’t focus, you’ll never become an expert in anything – and Socialyse is the bespoke, social business of Havas.

Specialisation is always better, especially in technology, which can be hard to understand. I don’t want to be critical of our Cambodian clients, but while they understand that you have to be on Facebook, they don’t know why. They don’t know what they can get out of it. At the moment, conversations about social media end there.

Facebook is by far the most used social media platform in Cambodia at the moment with an estimated 4.8 million users here. What benefits do other social media platforms offer Cambodian companies?

Olivier: Facebook is always the main social network. LinkedIn is the business social network. Twitter disrupts media. Snapchat is the camera company; how to tell a story with video. Instagram is coming soon: believe me, before Christmas, Instagram will launch [an office] here.

Why is Facebook booming? Because people want to share – video mainly, but also pictures and content.

Our role will be to manage the needs of the clients – how to predict, how to engage, how to prepare them to invest at the right moment with the right amount of money on Facebook. Not only to generate fans, but also to create a real strategy on the social network.

Recently, programmatic marketing has backfired for a lot of advertisers. A lot of advertisements have been placed by computers on websites that are deemed incongruous with the values of the client. How will the marketing world deal with this backlash?

Vishnu: I think you raise an important point, but most of the large organisations that this has happened to, such as Google and Facebook, are well aware of these issues. When you’re looking at a wide scope of things, your ability to predict what can go wrong is not 100% – sometimes you end up with these situations.

But these organisations recognise this and are continuously working towards eliminating these problems. The issues you mentioned are hiccups. They are not going to deter from the fact that [programmatic marketing] is here to stay and will only grow stronger.

Olivier: You talk about websites, but for a long time, I haven’t heard this word because we live now in an application world. Roughly 3 billion people are using social networks on their smartphones.

Therefore, in Cambodia, we will reach out directly to the app world. For [Cambodian users], Facebook is the internet. Do you want to buy a car today, tomorrow, or did you want to buy one yesterday? Thanks to our technology, I can tell Range Rover: “these guys will never buy one of your cars, they prefer Porsche”. This is the type of data we are collecting today.

This is why we are here. Because the market is booming. I’m just visiting, but when I look around, I see millions of millennials using smartphones – it’s amazing. It will be a massive storm for content, for creatives, and for media planners.

Does that mean all your advertising will go on these social media platforms?

Olivier: Today, if you look at the figures in the US and Europe, $70 out of every $100 – sometimes as much as $80 – is going to Facebook.

Vishnu: Facebook and Google basically take 80% – in some markets, even more, depending on the strength of the other social networks. And the strength of media platforms is also another factor that affects how people spend their ad money.

Olivier: This is why we created Socialyse: to analyse and to create value for clients on social networks. If you go straight to those platforms without the right tools, you will miss opportunities.