Facebook: Where social media and shopping intersect

Social media’s powerful influence to reach consumers is a game changer for many businesses. Facebook’s Martin Gilliard, head of industry, retail — superstore and grocery, is at the center of where social media and shopping meet. In his role, Gilliard drives the development of data products for the retail vertical. The Retail Gets Real team caught up with Gilliard at NRFtech in San Francisco — an invitation-only gathering of senior IT professionals in retail — to talk about how Facebook is working with retailers now and in the future.

Gilliard’s career has centered around roles where he can make the biggest impact; over the years, he has been a developer, marketer and data analyst. The skills he picked up along the way helps him understand retailers’ goals and develop solutions to drive their success on social media. For retailers, Facebook’s biggest offer is the access to consumer data, but “data without context means nothing,” Gilliard says. The team helps retailers distill data on Facebook into actionable information such as targeted advertising.

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Retailers already build relationships with customers on their websites and in stores, and Facebook and Instagram are natural extensions of these relationships. Globally, 1.56 billion people access Facebook every day and there are 500 million daily active accounts on Instagram. “If the biggest thing you sell is a relationship,” Gilliard says, “to not be part of the conversation means that you're being left out.” The accessibility and growing capabilities of both social media platforms mean the playing field is leveling for medium and small retailers — Many businesses selling on Instagram do not even have a website, instead choosing to exclusively use Instagram’s marketplace and checkout functions.

Listen to the episode to learn more about how information technology roles are changing and how leaders can become effective change agents for their companies.

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