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 it’s 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, Walmart 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 improvements Walmart has to make 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 these data to Walmart’s buyers, who then use it to make their purchasing decisions.
Your business is not likely to be the scale of Walmart but these lessons should give 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?
If you were to hire a resource to help with SEO or social media, most people think to choose either an SEO specialist or a Social Media agency because the two are different marketing disciplines. That’s an even bigger mistake.
Recent Google algorithm changes underscore how SEO and social media are inextricably linked. Panda is a Google algorithm filter aimed at fighting low quality content; Penguin is one aimed at fighting web spam. Google has concluded the best match for a keyword is the one that is focused and other people follow.
If you don’t think SEO and social media work together, like peanut butter and jelly, here are 25 reasons they do.
66% say its risky to have an unsocial CEO versus 49% who says its risky to have a Social CEO.
42% of CEO’s are now social; this is expected to increase by 50% within 5 years.
For more conclusions from this study, see the infographic below.
Why are Social CEO’s seen as better leaders? Why are more CEO following? What have they’ve learned? Here’s what the Top 15 Social CEO’s say social media taught them.
RICHARD BRANSON (FOUNDER, VIRGIN GROUP): “We’ve been using our social media channels to spread the message that we are just as interested in making a difference as making a profit.” Over half a million check Branson’s regularly updated blog each month, offering an exclusive insight into the workings of Virgin.
JEFF WEINER (CEO, LINKEDIN): “The key is to concentrate extremely hard on getting the right processes and infrastructure in place early on. Otherwise, you spend far too much time fixing things later.”
MARISSA MEYER (CEO, YAHOO): “Yahoo sees tweets (from news figures and news outlets) as an as important information source of news for many of our users.” Yahoo and Twitter have partnered to incorporate Tweets into the Yahoo newsfeed.
ADRIANA HUFFINGTON (GROUP PRESIDENT, AOL): “Social media allows like-minded people to coalesce, and has increased the ability of companies to tap into their customers’ humanity. There’s a much higher bar for engagement with social media and, once in, a company can no longer easily hide behind a glossy, expensively photographed ad campaign.”
ELON MUSK (CEO, TELSA MOTORS): “Engineers interested in working on autonomous driving, pls email firstname.lastname@example.org. Team will report directly to me.” Elon Musk recruited engineers using Twitter. His approach worked because he was reaching precisely the creative, savvy professionals he looked to bring into his companies.
ANAND MAHINDA (CHAIRMAN/MD, MAHINDA & MAHINDA): “I think its very important for people to feel that when they work in our group, it’s not just remuneration, its not just the work reward but you will get recognized by what you do. I believe that is one of the most powerful motivators for any one in life.”
KAI-FU LEE (CHAIRMAN/CEO, INNOVATION WORKS): “Social media has more power in China than it does in any other country. While controls are tight, one must realize that social media is revolutionizing the way people communicate with and other and can change China for the better.”
JEFF IMMELT (CEO, GE): “Social media helps GE keep to its goal of always being a learning company. Social media gives me access and speed to customers and employees I could not otherwise have.”
JACK WELSH (FOUNDER, JACK WELSH MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE): “Social media is changing the relationship between you and your employees, you and your customers. You cannot have a bad service issue and sit there. It will be on social media rapidly and your reputation can be stained for months, weeks or years. You have to be able to respond to errors quickly.”
MARC BEINOFF (CHAIRMAN & CEO, SALESFORCE): “As a marketer, as a sales professional, you’d better know what’s happening on those social networks because those are your customers. We’ve seen brands go haywire when one tweet goes wrong. Are you paying attention to that? Do you really know what’s happening with your customers? That’s the question.”
DICK COSTELLO (CEO, TWITTER): “Twitter quickly became an alternative form of communicating to get help, in ways that phone calls and text messaging couldn’t. I think Jeff Bezos is amazing. The way he’s thought about building out the platform that the company has is exactly the kind of model we want to build at Twitter.”
REID HOFFMAN (CHAIRMAN, LINKEDIN): “The impact of the Internet on business will continue to increase massively. CEOs will need to understand their customers and the environment that their customers live and work in — which will be increasingly ‘social’. your brand as a CEO and as a company through social media will be key to attracting the right talent. The principal lesson that I’ve learned is to always be learning and never believe that you know enough.
Did these Top Social CEO teach you something new about social media? Do you see why their colleagues see them as better leaders? Does their use of social media inspire you?
New media channels – digital, social media and mobile – change marketing from a monologue to a conversation. So, in the spirit of a dialogue, shouldn’t brands say, “I’m sorry,” when they make a mistake?
Some do and even turn a misstep to an advantage when they:
Admit the mistake fast
Respond with honestly
Say what is going to be fixed
Here’s how 9 brands proved vulnerability is good for business.
AMAZON: Remotely deleted George Orwell’s “1984” from Kindle devices. Consumers were angry to discover the book had suddenly vanished from their Kindles. Jeff Bezos posted an apology admitting the act was “stupid, thoughtless, and painfully out of line with [Amazon's] principles.”
Amazon overcame an outrage and Amazon exceeded its projected Kindle sales+60% for the year.
APPLE: Intended to give Google Maps a run for the money; instead, Apple Maps was a failure from the start. It functioned poorly and misdirected users. CEO Tim Cook issued an an immediate and open apology. The company didn’t lose stride during a period when it was rapidly increasing sales and its stock price.
BODYFORM: a UK maker of feminine hygiene products was called out by a snarky male on its Facebook page. The CEO apologized on YouTube with an equally snarky but appropriate response from someone, who wasn’t a customer, trying to pick a fight. It nullified the attack, generated great PR and brand awareness. The video on YouTube has 5,320,375 views. See for yourself.
DKNY: After a photographer realized that DKNY was using his photo in a window without his permission, he mobilized his community to share a post asking DKNY to donate $100,000 to a local YMCA in lieu of compensation. DKNY responded quickly by way of an apology that it was an accident promised to donate $25,000 to the YMCA. The photographer accepted it was an honest mistake and thanked them for the donation.
DOMINO: Via TV spots, Facebook, You and Twitter, J. Patrick Doyle, Domino’s president, expressed how important it was for their company to listen to their consumers – their most important asset. Domino’s profits rose to $23.6MM for the year as a result. Here’s the story.
KITCHEN AID: Someone who tweets for KitchenAid thought they were posting from their personal account, but tweeted as KitchenAid instead. It happens but some tweets got pretty offensive, including one at Barack Obama’s late grandmother. Head of KitchenAid Cynthia Soledad took responsibility for the tweet and offered an apology to Barack Obama and his family. It teaches the lesson to carefully choose the people who post for your company.
JOHNSON & JOHNSON: Found themselves with a customer loyalty problem when a particular brand of tampon in the O.B. line was discontinued in North America. People thought the whole O.B. line was being discontinued.
A Facebook group called for a boycott of all J & J products. A musical apology was sent out to over 65,000 loyal O.B. users, a list that covered about a 1,000 distinct names. The response was overwhelmingly positive from women.
O2: A European mobile service company, during a massive network outage, O2′s Twitter account became inundated with tweets by frustrated customers. Instead of issuing standard corporate responses, O2 responded to these tweets with an honest and light-hearted demeanor. Their human approach was extremely refreshing and sentiment changed dramatically as a result.
TACO BELL: Taco Bell recently combated a traditional attack (a class action lawsuit charging that the restaurant’s meat isn’t really beef) with new media techniques. On Twitter, Taco Bell linked to comedian Steven Colbert’s musings on the controversy; on Facebook, they offered free tacos, encouraging customers to make up their own minds about the beef in question. 7,000,000 million loyal Facebook “friends” showed their enthusiasm and the lawsuit has been dropped.
If your business is using social channel and a mistake is made or your brand comes under attack, are you prepared to own up to it like these brands?
Do these examples give you an idea what to do? What do they prove to you?
Here’s what I learned from (at least) 14 social media mistakes I’ve made.
TO BUILD AN AUDIENCE TAKES TIME: Social media is “earned” media (not “paid”). It takes more time to build an audience you earn. Most people, including myself, underestimate. But an “earned” audience stays with you longer than one you pay for and is worth the effort.
GRATITUDE TO OTHERS WORKS MUCH FASTER THAN TALKING ABOUT YOURSELF: It was humbling at the start to look at how slow an audience builds until I stopped telling and started thanking others. Chris Brogan said to talk about others 3X as talking about yourself. It was very good advice.
YOU CAN’T BE GOOD OR BAD AT SOCIAL MEDIA; YOU CAN ONLY BE YOURSELF. Initially, I wondered if my contributions were good or bad. It would have been better if I wondered if I was being myself.
RELEVANT CONTENT IS A BRAND’S 2nd MOST VALUABLE ASSET: After a product of service, relevant content is a business’ most relevant asset. I found the valuable posts came from people who were able to teach someone something new.
LISTEN TO THE RIGHT METRICS: There was a time when I thought a Klout or Kred score was worth pursuing. Now I know the metrics in the Google Analytics of your website that show the social networks (Traffic Sources) where your audience comes from is a much more valuable guide.
TECH DOESN’T WORK AS WELL AS TOUCH: I’ve never relied on automated posts. There nothing wrong with sending the same message out on different social networks. But I was concerned that it relied too much on tech, I would miss the opportunity to touch.
SHOW UP CONSISTENTLY: You don’t have to be on social networks 24/7. You do have to be there consistently and at the same time usually helps. You’ll find your audience looks forward, even relies, on seeing you and that’s a way to earn their trust.
RE-PURPOSE YOUR CONTENT: You’re going to be putting in time so why not make the most of it. The time you put into your content can be re-purposed. For example, a blog can be re-purposed as an email newsletter. A series of blogs on the same topic can be made into an e-book.
SOCIAL MEDIA IS NOT FREE: The commodity in social media is time, not money. I didn’t realized how valuable that commodity was until I had less of time because of social media. Value your time appropriately.
LOOK FOR HOW YOUR AUDIENCE EVOLVES: Foiled Cupcakes owner Mari Luangrath built her cupcake business to +600% above forecast by building relationships on Facebook and Twitter. As her audience evolved to corporate accounts, her attention went more to LinkedIn.
ALL COMMENTS ARE NOT EQUAL: When I initially got comments like “I’ve bookmarked your blog” I thought I was doing something right. It was actually spammer trying to get links. You have to look at the email address of someone writing a comment.
DON’T BE AN OBSESSIVE EDITOR: I’ve spent, and spend, way more time editing than the attention the obsession to editing yields in visitors. I’m not discouraging people to pay attention to details. But, if you wait for everything to be perfect, you’re likely not to start.
DO IT FOR THE FRIENDS: Fellow Rutgers CMD faculty and friend, Mark Schaefer, is a well known name in social media. When he started, he did it for the friends. Why wouldn’t you. Your friend can come from any social network and from all over the world.
INVITE MORE OFTEN: I thought if I invited people to join my networks, it might seem as if I’m too pushy. Now, I realize that, without actively inviting others, I just have less fans and followers.
When you started in social media, did you make the same mistake I did? What have you learned? Have you learned more from your our successes? Or your mistakes?