McDonough School of Business
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Facebook Director Erik Hawkins Speaks to Georgetown Community about Mobile Communication

Erik Hawkins, director of global product marketing at Facebook, spoke at Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business on Nov. 15 about how Facebook is responding to users’ mobile consumption. Hawkins gave a brief presentation on the company’s mission and focus on making its products more immediate, expressive, and immersive before answering questions from the audience. The event was sponsored by the Georgetown McDonough Office of Alumni and External Relations and the Georgetown Advertising and Marketing Association.

Each day over 1 billion people use Facebook, 60 billion messages are sent via Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, and 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram, Hawkins said. In the United States, 134 million people visit Facebook on mobile devices, each spending an average of 46 minutes on the site a day.

“People now consume content on their mobile devices throughout the day. On average, we check our cellphones about 100 times a day. We are never a few feet from our cellphone,” he said. “As a matter of fact, most people aren’t more than about three feet from their cellphone for about 18 to 20 hours a day.”

To keep up with an increasingly fast-paced world, Hawkins said, Facebook is working to improve its products by making them more immediate, expressive, and immersive while remaining true to its mission of making the world more open and connected.

“Time is our most precious resource, and we need new modes of communication in order to maximize the time that we have,” he said. “This is a new mode of communication. It may seem silly but it’s effective, and it’s particularly effective because of our brain’s preference for visual communication.”

Hawkins showed the audience a 360-degree video from the television show Game of Thrones, noting that Facebook seeks to make its information more immersive as media evolves. Facebook Live, a platform that allows users to communicate with their followers in real time, is another platform that meets this goal, he said.

In the near future, Facebook plans to build out the next generation of services such as Instagram, Messenger, and Pages.

“What’s going to come next? We are going to keep innovating,” he said. “We are going to try to make experiences that are even richer, that can teach people, that can inspire people, that can earn more than [the] 46 minutes a day than we currently have, the 20 percent of time we have on mobile.”

When an audience member asked about the challenges facing the company, Hawkins noted the importance of trust. He said users need to believe that the company has their best interest at heart, while businesses need to believe that Facebook is an effective way platform to market themselves and build their presence, and society needs to trust Facebook in general.

“The most important ingredient for our success is ultimately trust,” he said. “And I think you build trust by focusing on creating value and being open and transparent.”

Hawkins encouraged audience members who have a small or medium-sized business who use Facebook or are thinking of using the platform to look into using Facebook Blueprint.

“[Facebook Blueprint] is a curriculum that will walk you through the principles of Facebook advertising, what good creative is, what bad creative is, [and] how you use our insights,” he said. “[It has] everything you need to know to be good to really good at Facebook.”

Before serving as the director of global product marketing, Hawkins led Facebook’s U.S. sales efforts across various industries, including retail, technology, and financial services. He is the co-founder and CEO of Grind Media, an outdoor and adventure sports publisher that reaches tens of millions of users monthly and operates as a part of the Enthusiasts Network. Hawkins also co-founded PureVideo, a digital video platform, earlier in his career.

— Lindsay Reilly