Facebook is searching for a CMO as it looks to rebuild its brand reputation following the Cambridge Analytica scandal and mounting questions over its role in areas from the spread of fake news to Russian interference in US elections.
According to a job post on LinkedIn, Facebook wants a CMO to “build, manage and inspire a global marketing organisation focused on its consumer business and overall company reputation”. Those hoping to apply will need at least 15 years experience at a consumer or tech company and understand everything from product and digital marketing to social media, analytics, branding, events and partnerships.
They will also need knowledge on how to “guide a brand’s reputation” and experience in crisis management. The CMO role is seen as a key member of the Facebook management team, but Facebook admits it is “still learning to capitalise on marketing’s impact” in a company that is engineering led.
The CMO role at Facebook has been vacant since Gary Briggs left at the start of 2018. He had been in the job since 2013 having joined from Google, and reported into chief product officer Chris Cox.
His departure left Facebook without a top marketer just as the company was hit by a series of scandals that have impacted its brand reputation. It is fighting fires on a number of levels – from the fallout from the Cambridge Analytica scandal, to its role in the spread of fake news and Russian interference in elections.
Advertisers are also increasingly concerned, not just about the issues above but also about measurement and effectiveness of ads on the platform after Facebook admitted to a series of errors. And in its latest results, Facebook said it had lost members in Europe and that people are spending less time on the site, all of which reduce advertisers’ ability to reach people on the platform.
All of this has impacted its brand. According to YouGov BrandIndex, Facebook’s Impression score, which is a balance of whether people have a positive or negative view of a brand, had been hovering at around +18 for the eight months before Cambridge Analytica hit the headlines.
In the wake of that scandal, Facebook’s score dropped as low as -19. It is now back up at around +6, suggesting attempts to rebuild its reputation, including a major marketing push, are having an impact. However, it is not yet back to pre-scandal levels.
Paul Morris, strategy director at Brand Finance, says: “Facebook has been dealt a harsh blow by the privacy scandal involving Cambridge Analytica and continues to face criticism over its data policies, altogether representing a fundamental challenge to its brand and overall business model. Its leadership appears to have recognised this by adopting a strategic plan to improve its relationship with consumers, including worldwide advertising campaigns appealing to customers’ emotions and reinforcing their proposition of connecting and making friends online.
“This may help the brand weather the storm, but the new CMO will have to work hard to restore Facebook’s brand reputation in the long term, not only with consumers but also with regulators and the wider public opinion. Advertising will only get the brand so far; there will need to be a demonstrated change delivered through customer experience and corporate behaviour.”
The CMO role is not the only job in marketing Facebook is recruiting for. It is also searching for a head of consumer and brand marketing for Instagram as it looks to build out the marketing team there.