Video: Wal-Mart Wants You to 'Like' It

by Mark Friedman  on Monday, Mar. 19, 2012 12:00 am  

In October, Wal-Mart launched one of its biggest social media initiatives by unveiling 3,500 Facebook pages, one for each store in the United States.

The reason for that move was "based on this commitment to local communities," Stephen Quinn, the chief marketing officer for Wal-Mart U.S., said in a Dec. 14 interview with Fortune.

"How we interact at a local level is really important to us, and that's why we've launched these local Facebook pages," Quinn said. "Our goal is to integrate into the things that are happening in a local community and to make us better merchants through that."

See Also Wal-Mart Pumps Up Web Sale Experience.

By creating the local Facebook pages, Wal-Mart is "taking social media to a totally new level," Susan Griffiths, chief operating officer for Keyora Inc., an e-commerce software company in Oakville, Ontario, told Arkansas Business last week.

She said that not only could Wal-Mart communicate directly with its customers, but the Facebook page also allowed the retailer to target promotions to a specific location.

Michael Bolton, the chief technology officer for Keyora, said Wal-Mart’s Facebook strategy was "pretty ingenious." In order to see the deals at their local Wal-Mart store, the customers have to "like" the page and receive specially targeted offers, Bolton said.

Bolton said the Facebook strategy, if successful, could add 5 percent in sales to the company.

Wal-Mart also could mine the customers' information on their Facebook pages to gain insights into customers.

"The information that you choose to share [on Facebook] is gold in the eyes of retailers," said Liz Miller, the vice president of marketing programs and operations for the CMO Council, a network of more than 6,000 senior marketing executives headquartered in Palo Alto, Calif.

She said Wal-Mart could use a person’s profile information to send direct ads to that person.

If Wal-Mart’s Facebook strategy is done well, "it can be highly effective," Miller said.

A recent CMO Council study showed that people follow a brand because they want savings, coupons and experiences that they can’t find elsewhere, Miller said. "They want to feel special," she said.

As of last week, Wal-Mart had 13.45 million likes on Facebook.

Social media still is an untapped market for retailers, said Randy Davidson, a retail industry analyst at Tectura, a global software and business consulting services firm based in San Mateo, Calif.

Davidson praised Wal-Mart’s 3,500 Facebook pages as a way to build a community. "They’re really looking at the local market as opposed to the global marketplace," he said. "I think it’s a great strategy."


Lance Turner of Arkansas Business talks to Today's THV about Wal-Mart's social media strategy.



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