Walmart's Local Facebook Push: Our Los Angeles Social Media Firm Weighs In

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Walmart is the leader in American retail, but they still need to reach social media consumers, and do so in a way that localizes their brand. What’s the solution? Launch a slew of local Walmart store Facebook pages – 3,600 of them, to be exact.

This month, Walmart launched thousands of store-specific Facebook pages in an effort to provide consumers with offers and updates from their local Walmart store locations.

According to Walmart reps, the purpose of the new campaign was to make the Facebook pages of Walmart stores relevant on a local level. What does Facebook have to say about it? Nothing but good things. “The unique thing here is that Walmart has taken it to another level,” said Carolyn Everson, VP-global marketing solutions for Facebook. “They’re not just having a local tab on their fan page where people can find their nearest retailer by putting in a ZIP code,” she said (a reference to what many national chains have done on Facebook). What there will be are Facebook newsfeed alerts offering news about savings and events at local Walmart stores, which will be partially controlled by both national and local Walmart management.

But don’t most users who “like” a business on Facebook – especially a national brand like Walmart – fall into the trap of failing to check the page for promotions and specials? Walmart already has that part figured out. The nearly 9.5 million Facebook fans of Walmart can localize their experience with the “My Local Walmart” Facebook application. The app allows fans to receive updates in their newsfeed regarding new product arrivals, special events and those famed Walmart rollbacks.

The first goal of this campaign, according to chief marketing officer for Walmart U.S. Stephen Quinn, is “to allow us to make our stores relevant locally at scale.” Regarding the eventual Walmart Facebook experience, Quinn said, “It will be very personalized.” This strategy is in lockstep with the social media agency trend of individualized marketing programs.

Ready to start your Walmart Facebook experience? Here’s what to do:

  • •  Visit Walmart’s Facebook page
  • •  Input your zip code and “like” your local retail Walmart location
  • •  Check your newsfeed for alerts about twice a week
  • •  Take advantage of special features, like downloading store maps to your smartphone on Black Friday

As many would guess, much of the information in the Walmart Facebook alerts will be determined by analysis from Walmart’s headquarters. However, a “local override” will also be in place to let store managers customize content for their locations. The app will allow Walmart to tailor marketing based on local factors, like weather or sports events.

Will Other National Retailers Soon Develop Local Facebook Pages?

We certainly hope so.

By now, everyone knows that whether it’s search or social media, mobile is the way of the future. Those in the know are also aware that just like politics, all these things are local. Local is the buzzword of the decade, at least for now. With that in mind, Walmart has devised a way to combine social media and mobile marketing in a localized format. How is this possible for the nation’s largest retail chain? With 3,600 Facebook pages for local Walmart stores throughout the United States, and a local Walmart Facebook app that’s compatible with most smartphones.

For those concerned about privacy, the new My Local Walmart application won’t permit Facebook to show what others are shopping for or buying. This practice, what Everson calls “frictionless open-graph sharing,” is a source of debate among social media agency types and social networkers in general. However, Walmart does hope the app generates more “likes” of its products and increases the viral effect of its fan base. Will it end the series of nine straight quarters of declining same-store sales? Walmart sure hopes so, it would seem. Our Los Angeles social media agency hopes to see more national brands following Walmart’s lead by producing their own large batch of local Facebook and Twitter pages. It can only mean good things for the retail industry and ours.

This isn’t just another example of a business getting on Facebook. AdAge notes that the joint venture brings together “two of the biggest institutions in U.S. marketing” – and our Los Angeles social mediafirm agrees. With Walmart’s 150 million shoppers monthly and Facebook’s 165 million U.S. users, this is a very big deal.


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