By Published: Sept. 1, 2014

Kelly Graziadei

As a leader at Facebook, Kelly Graziadei (Jour’97) shows that it takes more than social skills to be successful.

Fourteen is a magic number for Kelly Graziadei (Jour’97). It’s the average number of times 135 million Americans check Facebook each day. And as a director of global marketing solutions for Facebook, 14 times a day equals an enormous amount of exposure for her clients, Facebook’s advertisers.

“We’re the best place for businesses to reach their customers at all times of day,” Graziadei says. “Brands used to rely on primetime TV to get their messages out, but with Facebook, primetime is all the time.”

In the digital age, when ads saturate every screen, companies need innovative ways to reach their audiences, and it’s up to Graziadei and her team to help drive their brands through advertising by targeting the most receptive consumers with the strongest message.

“At Facebook our goal is for advertising to be as good as or better than the content [in their Facebook feeds],” she says.

Facebook Ad Hits

Newcastle campaign ad
Newcastle’s “If We Made It” campaign chronicles what might have happened if the company had advertised on television during the Super Bowl. The campaign was the top-trending topic on Facebook for two days in February 2014.

Wendy's music video still
In an effort to promote its new pretzel bacon cheeseburger, Wendy’s distributed music videos to the millennial demographic called #PretzelLoveSongs. It was the most talked about campaign in Wendy’s history, according to Graziadei.

BarkBox — boxes full of healthy treats and high-quality toys sent monthly to dog owners — wanted to increase traffic to its website and sign up new customers. Soon 50 percent of its web traffic came from Facebook.

Blackfish film
Magnolia Pictures used ads in Facebook’s News Feed to encourage people to watch trailers for two of its summer 2013 films. One of the films, “Blackfish,” received 1.35 million video views (and more since). The film was the fourth-highest grossing documentary of 2013.

Magnolia Pictures used ads in Facebook’s News Feed to encourage people to watch trailers for two of its summer 2013 films. One of the films, Blackfish, received 1.35 million video views (and more since). The film was the fourth-highest grossing documentary of 2013.

One of her favorite Facebook ad campaigns began around the 2014 Super Bowl. Instead of spending about $4 million for a 30-second television ad during the game, Newcastle beer built a social media campaign around what the company would have done for a Super Bowl TV spot. The “If We Made It” campaign used Facebook to air its video commercial — starring actress Anna Kendrick — and generated more than 10 million views. It was the top-trending Facebook topic for two days.

“Where social media used to be an add-on or afterthought, social media is now mainstream media,” Graziadei says.

Facebook was founded in 2004. By now, there are more than 1 million paying advertisers on the platform and Facebook has grown to more than 1.32 billion monthly active users, with more than 1 billion people using Facebook on mobile devices. Graziadei, who is 39 and a mother of two, leads a team of 100 employees to help advertisers reach those users.

“Kelly is incredibly consistent,” says Jeremy Lewis, Facebook’s U.S. e-commerce industry lead, who reports directly to Graziadei and manages clients that include Amazon and eBay. “She has one of the biggest jobs at Facebook and she does it with a lot of grace. She has a good sense of developing strategies and goals of what we want to accomplish, and people respect that about her.”

At Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters, formally the Sun Microsystems campus, there are no offices or cubes. Everyone, including company founder Mark Zuckerberg, works in the open to encourage collaboration and the creativity that comes from it. Motivational posters plaster the walls. The screensaver on Graziadei’s computer blares, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”

Facebook was a rocket ship, and I wanted to get on it.

“The biggest perk of Facebook is the smart, driven people I get to work with who think big and aren’t afraid to challenge the status quo or what’s possible,” she says. “I am inspired by people around me every day.”

Graziadei’s leadership skills and her ability to think strategically make her a perfect match for Facebook, Lewis says. With each client, for instance, she first ensures that her team’s approach aligns with Facebook’s overall vision of making the world more open and connected.

“Kelly looks at Facebook holistically,” Lewis says. “She wants what is best for the entire company, not just for her team.”

Advertising is how Facebook makes money: Of the company’s total 2013 revenue of $7.87 billion, nearly 90 percent came from advertising. That puts Graziadei and her team at the center of the action.

“Kelly has incredible business sense and is very astute,” says Christine Trodella, who worked for Graziadei for two years and now oversees Facebook advertising for businesses that work with consumer packaged goods. “You either have leadership abilities or you don’t. She has that ‘it factor.’”

Graziadei grew up in Parker, Colo. At CU-Boulder she was a Boettcher Scholar and a member of the Presidents Leadership Class in addition to her advertising major. When she graduated, she set her sights on San Francisco and a career in marketing. She worked for several companies, including AT&T and AltaVista, a web search engine acquired by Yahoo! in 2003.

While at Yahoo!, where she spent six years and managed sales and support teams working with advertisers, she was approached by a friend who asked her to visit Facebook’s campus. Within weeks she had an offer to join the company. Graziadei had a 4-month-old son and was trying to juggle parenthood with a professional career, but she and her husband decided together to take the leap.

“Facebook was a rocket ship, and I wanted to get on it,” she says. “I wouldn’t be happy sitting on the sidelines knowing I could have had a seat.”

Graziadei joined Facebook in 2010, a time she calls her “lean in” moment, a reference to last year’s bestselling book Lean In, by Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The book explores why women don’t occupy equal numbers of leadership positions as men, and aims to empower women to pursue their professional goals aggressively. Sandberg also addresses the importance of maintaining a work-life balance, which is important to Graziadei.

“Sheryl and Facebook are focused on creating an environment where people can integrate their [personal and professional] lives so Facebook is a long-term destination on their career path,” Graziadei says. “I am incredibly thankful for how front and center creating space and balance for both mothers and fathers is [at Facebook] because when mothers and fathers share duties at home both can take on leadership positions at work if they so desire.”

Facebook provides many benefits for working parents including four months of paid parental leave for both mothers and fathers, dependent care allowances and “baby cash” to help with expenses during a baby’s first year.

“There is a massive amount of opportunity and not enough hours in the day to get everything done,” she says. “I do my best to prioritize to ensure I’m focusing on the highest-impact work and striking a balance between work and personal that’s good for me, Facebook and my family. I do my best to be home every night to make and eat dinner with my family, which helps maintain some balance and sanity for all.”

Photography by Cody Pickens (Kelly Graziadei); Facebook (Facebook ads)