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The future of retail is local

Walmart founder Sam Walton believed that retail was fundamentally a local business, and he stressed the importance of staying close to the consumer. Using this fact as a jumping off point, Facebook VP David Fischer asked Stephen F. Quinn, EVP and CMO of Walmart U.S., how the multinational retailer, with thousands of stores in countries around the world, uses technology to still go local today.

David Fischer, Facebook VP of Advertising and Global Operations, and Stephen F. Quinn, EVP and CMO of Walmart, discuss local social retail.

Quinn responded:

If you went back 120 years ago, a retailer would be a pillar in the community. [They] would know not only everybody, but their likes, what they thought was interesting, what new products they might be interested in. And they would have to curate and make choices to fit in that box. They really became a part of that community.
As retail evolved so that scale became a big part of the game, much as it had earlier done in manufacturing, it became really critical that you understood customers through market research, those types of things, and that you used your scale to lower cost and therefore lower prices. Hence, Walmart played right into that picture. I think what’s so fascinating about that story and ours at Walmart is we’re kind of going back to the future here, where the expectation is rapidly changing from our customers and even our associates that we will know and be a part of that community. And, to do that, we have to be able to–in our case–scale that kind of knowledge across 4,000 stores.
We’re just barely starting to see the potential that [going local] offers us. We’re going to have to absolutely become a part of those communities and know what’s going on in that community. Being dumb about what’s happening is not going to be acceptable anymore for us or any other large organization.

Along with Facebook, Hearsay Social shares this vision of global businesses going local through social. The Hearsay Social platform was actually built from the ground up so that enterprises could engage with their customers via social media at every level of the organization–from brand to region to local stores, agents, or employees.
Hearsay Social CEO Clara Shih recently spoke to this shared vision in an Advertising Age editorial published this week, entitled Facebook’s New Business Pages Means Marketers Must Evolve:

The Internet disintermediated a human touch from many transactions, which is perfectly fine for highly commoditized products. I’m excited to see how the growing richness of social media engagement such as timeline stories are re-intermediating this sense of emotional connection and human touch. I have no doubt marketers will rise to the occasion and quickly realize this sea change in social marketing is actually an opportunity of a lifetime to transform our brands with authentic conversations and customer relationships at scale.

We’ve embedded Fischer’s conversation with Quinn below, which took place last month at the Facebook Marketing Conference in New York.

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Facebook Pages Brand Timeline: What it is and what it means for your business

Note: The following is an introduction to our how-to guide for the Facebook Page Brand Timeline Redesign, a free resource featuring everything you need to know about the new social marketing tools.
Facebook, the most popular social network in the world with nearly one billion users, announced at the first-ever Facebook Marketing Conference (fMC) that it would be transitioning brand pages to a new format based on timeline, allowing businesses to tell their story and connect with customers better than ever before.
True to Facebook’s mission to help people around the world “tell their life story” in a visually rich way, timeline launched for individual users last December. As part of this launch, a new generation of social apps like Spotify and Netflix allow users to seamlessly share their favorite tunes and films with each other in real-time. Additionally, stories appear side by side in the timeline to convey a more cohesive story. Lastly, but certainly not least, Facebook reserves the wide, open space at the top of the page for a unique cover image or backdrop of your choosing, perfect for self-expression.
Facebook has now brought many of those same exciting elements to Facebook Pages.
Social media marketers should be delighted by the changes. After all, what are businesses but large groups of people with stories of their own? From the founding year to its first sale to other major milestones, organizations large and small have interesting stories to tell. And Facebook Pages will finally allow businesses to tell those stories in a compelling way.
Adjusting to a new look and feel can sometimes be confusing, but brands and businesses will find that timeline is a winning interface for interacting with fans. With timeline, marketing on Facebook is about building engagement more than ever before. It’s not about the hard sell; rather, it’s about creating original content and telling interesting stories, which more often than not occur at the local level.
Long before social networks, local representatives, agents, advisors, or franchisees connected with customers on the ground, in cities all around the world. Trust those local workers to be your best brand ambassadors. Cookie cutter messages don’t work anymore because social networkers see right through bland corporate messaging.
That’s why it’s more important than ever for corporate brands to go local on social media. And, supported by Hearsay Social for Facebook Pages Brand Timeline, social marketers can do that with ease.

Now that you’ve read the introduction, read the full how-to guide for the Facebook Page Brand Timeline Redesign. Learn about the new rules for cover photos, how you should transition from the wall to the timeline, and other digestible tips for creating the best possible business page on Facebook.