Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Case Study - Walmart Social Media Strategy – Engaging with customers on Twitter

Walmart uses Twitter as one of the important social media channels to engage with customers and also improve its brand reputation. They have seven total Twitter handles with @WalmartHub being the “parent” handle that only retweets the best performing content from the other handles to its largest following. The primary Walmart Twitter presence is @Walmart, which the Marketing team manages. The main Corporate Affairs Twitter presence is @WalmartHub, with a variety of sub handles (@WalmartGreen, @WalmartHealthy, @WalmartGiving, @WalmartNewsroom, @WalmartAction) for specific content areas.

@WalmartNewsroom is company official "corporate spokesperson handle" where it issue press releases and other announcements. @WalmartGreen is channel for talking about sustainability. @WalmartGiving is where company addresses the philanthropic efforts. The Walmart Foundation gave over a $1 billion to worthy organizations in 2012 and we give grants in communities across the country so this handle works very well for reaching those audiences. @WalmartAction focuses on public policy issues and supports company efforts in the communities they serve. @WalmartHealthy shares news about their ongoing efforts to help customers get fresh and healthy foods without having to pay more. @WalmartVeterans is our newest handle designed to support the ongoing conversation around veterans hiring and other veterans-related issues.

Walmart primarily chose Twitter as it believes customers it wants to reach for corporate affairs are mostly present on Twitter. Walmart  Digital Communications team manages approximately 80,000 mentions of significance on Twitter per day that are specific to Walmart’s reputation or two major missions —tweets related to its two primary missions first one informing the customers about the lowest prices offered compared to competitors that will lead to savings and better lives and second mission to enhance the company reputation. 

Walmart understands it is impossible to handle a volume of 80,000 interactions daily and respond to each, they have utilised data to target and respond to those that are important and filtering through these missives to identify important ones to reach. The social team responds selectively, pinpointing the tweets where they will most likely make a difference by responding. Walmart promotes its best-performing tweets to extend their reach and story lifecycles. It also promotes messages to counter negative mentions with the hope of putting an alternative view in place. It also comments on negative stories to expose its own perspective more broadly. Relative to answering questions, the response gap has been generally narrowed from two or more days to 10-15 minutes, especially on simple, fact-oriented questions. Underlying its social sharing strategy is the idea that, “It’s not about when you want to send a message, but when the audience wants to consume it.” In light of this, Walmart uses an application to handle and score content while also assessing the company’s real-time audience presence. 

Case Study: Social Media Strategy Walmart – Informing Customers and enhancing Brand reputation

Walmart’s social media strategy is two pronged where in the primary objective is to make customers and potential customers recognize Walmart offers the lowest prices compared to its competitors in the industry with a mission to  is to save money so they can live better lives and  second objective is to protect, defend and enhance Walmart’s reputation. For Walmart, interactions with customers on social media have proven to be a pivotal of their marketing efforts. Walmart benefits from a staggering flow of daily engagement that spikes during November, the peak holiday season when customers drastically increase their spending. The objective behind the corporate affairs social effort is to have meaningful social conversations to influence perceptions about Walmart.

Walmart partnered Google, and that has a local bent, incorporating inventory at nearby stores into Google search results. If you search for any product Stephen F. Quinn, chief marketing officer at Walmart explained, Google will tell you if you’re local Walmart have that product in stock, and it will tell you that store’s location. Walmart started experimenting with this process since 2012 and has increased its efforts for the holidays. Walmart uses Facebook to announce its local store manager’s special on the various offers and discounts in its stores as these offers differ from store to store. Walmart marketing runs the sales side of digital at Walmart where four thousand of the 10,000 Walmart stores have their own Facebook pages.

Walmart predominantly depends on half-million monthly pieces of user-generated content on Facebook and Twitter. Walmart has enjoyed 60,000 daily interactions on social media across 7 dedicated social handles and claims a stunning 10x ROI. With 31 million Facebook fans, more than any other brand on the network, it is no surprise that on Black Friday last year, Walmart received comments at a rate of 42 per minute. "We have ROI that's really strong. And, it's transforming our organization. This level of engagement we now have with customers is changing a whole bunch of other aspects of our marketing," said Walmart marketing Chief Stephen Quinn.

Walmart social media strategy is to use its online platforms to connect with consumers and generate sales. Walmart identifies influencers on various social networks and communicate directly with them about programs such as natural disaster relief efforts or the number of honorably discharged veterans the company has hired to date (30,000) on the way to its goal of 100,000 hired by 2018. Walmart also stopped paid promotions that led to gaining of followers on social media sites. In 2013, Walmart's average reach through Facebook was 474,000 with an engagement rate of just under 3 percent. In the first two months and 18 posts into 2014, that reach had climbed to 2.4 million and engagement had nearly doubled to 4.7 percent.  Walmart ultimately uses social media to present a positive face of the company, benefit the customers and also increase sales for the company.