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Walmart is the world’s largest public corporation, biggest private employer and largest retailer. It is still a family-owned business.

Walmart also has a big social media presence. Walmart has:

Why? What does Walmart know that the rest of us can learn?

Here are 10 lessons on Walmart’s social media strategy for every business.

  • START WITH A GOAL: Walmart’s goal for social media is to ensure that customers and potential customers understand that the discount store has the lowest prices in the industry and that Walmart’s mission is to help them save money so they can live better lives. That’s according to Chad Mitchell, Senior Director of Digital Communication. Because the company is often a target for controversial press, a second objective is to use social media to protect, defend and enhance Walmart’s reputation.
  • TRAIN EMPLOYEES: The company trains its employees on its mission. They encourage storytelling to solidify Walmart’s brand and the values its founder established more than 50 years ago.
  • ESTABLISH GUIDELINES: There are guidelines on engagement, location-based promotions for associates and “Walmart Moms” who post or publish.
  • HAVE A PURPOSE FOR EACH SOCIAL NETWORK: Walmart’s role for Twitter is to ask very basic questions of its users: “What’s happening?” By having a number of Twitter accounts, Walmart aims to provide information on Walmart’s major activities and initiatives – from sustainability to diversity, from healthier foods to charitable giving. Walmart uses Facebook to communicate specific values that are occurring every day at both the national level and in each of its 3,500-plus stores.
  • SEGMENT BY AUDIENCE INTERESTS: The company has Twitter handles with @WalmartHub being the “parent” handle that only Re-tweets the best performing content from the other handles, The other accounts feature the following topics:
  • USE SOCIAL MEDIA NATIONALLY AND LOCALLY: On Facebook, the ambitious My Local Walmart program establishes individual Facebook fan pages for its 3,500-plus stores. It also involves a Facebook App that stores can use to communicate sales, specials, and other updates with fans in their local area. But local stores haven’t been using their pages that effectively. There is learning and improving that Walmart has to do, as does any business that use social media so broadly.
  • MAKE YOUR BLOG A COMMUNITY AND KEEP IT REAL:  “Walmart Moms” started in the late 2000′s. They’ve always been real moms who are bloggers. Their role is simply to represent the voice of all moms, to tell and help others understand the daily challenge and triumphs of Moms. Participation in “Walmart Moms” is voluntary.
  • ENGAGE FREQUENTLY: On any given day, Walmart posts on Facebook between two and five updates, including weekends, and most achieve an impressive number of responses from its fans. Most of its posts achieve tens of thousands of Likes and hundreds of comments, with pictures of pets and children proving to be particularly popular. Walmart adds about 9,000,000 new Likes every 6 months.
  • LISTEN TO THE DATA: WalmartLabs uses such spikes in social network chatter to predict demand for out-of-the-ordinary products. In 2011, their team correctly anticipated heightened customer interest in cake-pop makers based on social media conversations on Facebook and Twitter. A few months later, it noticed growing interest in electric juicers, linked in part to the popularity of the juice-crazy documentary Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead. The team sends the data to Walmart’s buyers, who then use it to make their purchasing decisions.

Your business is probably not on the scale of Walmart ‘s, but these lessons should give you ideas on areas you should be thinking about. Are there lessons from Walmart’s social media strategy that apply to your business? Which ones are the most relevant?


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Rob Petersen

About Rob Petersen

Rob Petersen is an experienced advertising and marketing executive and President of BarnRaisers, a full service digital marketing agency that builds brands based on proven relationship principles and ROI. He is on the MBA Faculty of Rutgers CMD and is the author of two books on digital marketing.

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