Walmart. Say the name and see vitriol spew all over your new graphic tee, on-sale Dickies and imitation Crocs (all sold at the Bentonville empire). Why? Ask the question and you can find a plethora of answers, in many languages no less.
Understanding this gargantuan amount of rancor for the retail giant would help an aficionado of social media to understand the roller coaster of entertainment it would be as Walmart’s social media management team. Good times, right? Up there with owning a timeshare in Iran as a “good real estate investment.”
Typically, an organization of that stature has to take the tweeting enmity, spam containing the Ebola virus and even DMs with pictures from People of Walmart all with a grin, a turn of the head and move on wishing a job would open at Target. Not any more, you haters of anonymity.
It seems the home of low prices is taking its high standards out to pasture and rolling up its collective bargain-shopping sleeves to fight back on Twitter, as broken by Digiday.
Now, [Walmart] is looking at data to understand how to engage with certain critics on Twitter and Facebook. Last year, it conducted audience audits, looking at influencer stats, as well as who was engaging with the brand, why they were interacting, and when. The company can’t possibly respond to all of the 60,000 social mentions it sees each day. Data lets them figure out which ones need a response — and just as importantly, which to leave alone.
“Best case scenario, we’re able to engage, share some content and change hearts and minds,” said Chad Mitchell, Walmart’s senior director of digital communications. “Worst case, we’re able to have an open dialogue and then move on, agreeing to disagree.”
“Change hearts and minds?” Meh? When you have the full spectrum of acrimony from environment lovers, equal-rights advocates, price fail hunters and the aforementioned voyeurs of white trash, there won’t be much changing going on. However, knowing there is a chance to rise out of the social media team based in Bentonville is liable to make this verbal pinata more entertaining to watch, no?
Some people agree with this move, including yours truly.
“When your brand is as large as Walmart’s, dividing up your Twitter presence can be a smart move,” said Andy Beal, CEO of social media monitoring company Trackur. “It allows Walmart to break down a massive brand into bite-size social media chunks, which allows customers to keep up to date on specific departments or topics. It also allows Walmart to build a reputation barrier around its main Twitter account.”
That main Twitter account has more than 398,000 followers. And there is no limit to the amount of trolls that live under a bridge monitoring that same account. Arguably, the most important aspect to this move is the personalization aspect of it all. For decades, the face of Walmart was Sam, himself. Then, it became this Pollyanna approach to low prices…always. Now, we enter the era of character, and with the oodles of millennials with a smartphone and a does of sarcasm to boot, this is about to get good.
Live better? Indeed, Walmart. Indeed.