An interview with Erin Hunter, global head of consumer goods strategy, Facebook

Erin Hunter, Facebook's global head of consumer goods strategy Erin Hunter, Facebook's global head of consumer goods strategy

Retail Express: Retailers are often told they need to use social media to engage with their customers. What’s the right way to go about it?

Erin Hunter: There's no reason to fear Facebook. This is the way people are spending their time – it’s a reality now. Retailers can choose to ignore it but their competitors are not ignoring it.

"There's no reason to fear Facebook"

RE: Isn’t it difficult to use Facebook for your business– especially if you didn’t grow up in the digital age?

EH: Retailers should try to move away from the feeling that it’s complex and something you have to hire a 21-year-old college student to manage. That's really not the case. And if you're not using it then you're missing 1.2billion people who are probably pretty important to you. Not all of them are important to you but there's a subset that’s very, very important to you, Mr retailer who has 10 stores.

  • 46% of shoppers who used Facebook before shopping used it to look for deals, promotions and seasonal gift ideas
  • 65% of shoppers used their phones for a shopping-related activity while out shopping. Whilst in-store, people who used Facebook did so at four times the rate of any other app or search
  • A Cadbury Crème Egg campaign used Facebook to reach millions of 16-24-year-olds with business results that rivalled its TV campaign for efficiency

RE: Is it best to try and be funny and quirky on your Facebook page or to just focus on your business and your products?

EH: I’d encourage retailers to reflect their own brand identity, whatever that is. If their brand is one that uses humour and puts forward something pithy on a regular basis through other mediums and that’s who they are then that’s what they should do with us. If that’s not how their brand is defined, then why would you do something differently through our mass medium versus what you would do somewhere else?

RE: How do you work with suppliers?

EH: There’s an opportunity for both the suppliers and retailers to personalise their marketing again but do it at tremendous scale with 750m people who are using Facebook every day. Most people are using it for all but two of their waking hours. That’s a tremendous vehicle if you leverage it properly. We are offering things like our ‘custom audience’ tool that allows companies to personalise their message so that what you see would be based on your life and interests and your shopping basket, and different from what I see.

RE: So why is it actually important that retailers are using Facebook in their business?

EH: We’d like to ensure our customers – both retailers and FMCG companies – to understand that we are in the middle of a tremendous shift in how people spend their time. It’s the first time in 50 years that one media (digital) has passed another (TV) in terms of the amount of time consumers spend with a particular media. If retailers want to talk to the people that matter to them then they really need to move to where those consumers are.