Sarena Ally, 29
Account manager, Facebook
In March, Sarena Ally took her first sip of Facebook Kool-Aid. That’s when the account planner, just hired from OMD, took the Facebook pilgrimage to the social network’s Menlo Park office for her official immersion into its corporate culture.
“They dunk you right in,” Ally laughs in a boardroom at the company’s Toronto office. “And you come out Facebook-ized.”
A young veteran with six years’ experience in digital marketing, Ally was already well-versed in Facebook before that first of nine interviews that landed her a job as a consultant to c-level executives at advertisers like Target, BlackBerry and Labatt.
A year prior, she’d been the digital lead on McDonald’s “Our Food. Your Questions.” campaign, heading up media strategy and planning the buy—including a large Facebook investment—for the campaign that later won a Gold Media Innovation Award for online advertising and Best of Show at the 2013 Marketing Awards.
At Facebook, Ally is tasked with liaising with clients and their agencies, getting each party together at the same table to talk social strategy and learn how Facebook can accomplish brands’ business goals. Though Facebook has become a standard part of most big social campaigns, many marketers still struggle with how to use the network to accomplish their specific goals. It takes someone skilled in both brand building and media to connect the dots and deliver on a brand’s objectives.
“In our world, agencies are critically important, and Sarena’s past experience makes her invaluable as we continue to deepen and evolve our relationship with agencies across Canada,” says Facebook Canada president Jordan Banks. “Sarena has made a big impact with her current clients, helping some of Canada’s biggest brands reach more people and solve real business problems.”
Most recently she helped Labatt and Anomaly use Facebook to promote Budweiser’s “Responsible Use” campaign by asking consumers to “Thank a Bud” for being a designated driver on Facebook. For this kind of mass campaign, and others like Target’s Canadian launch campaign, Ally is often brought in at the briefing stage to advise brands on how a campaign could live on Facebook and deliver the results they’re looking for.
“She has a very proactive approach, suggesting ways to optimize content,” says Andrew Oosterhuis, brand manager at Labatt. “I can’t express how difficult it is to get great content that is engaging and breaks through on Facebook. Having the firepower and support of the Facebook team led by Sarena is tremendously beneficial.”
Her agency experience – both at OMD and at ZenithOptimedia, where Ally was a digital media planner for two years – informs her work at Facebook and gives her a direct line to the agency world, one of the keys to bringing ad dollars to the network.
“Having an agency background, I think she really understands it’s not just about engagement—that it’s your brand voice and a representation of your brand as almost a person on Facebook. She has a strong understanding of that,” says Oosterhuis.
From Afridi to Wong, check out all the profiles in our 30 Under Thirty.