I have a love/hate relationship with Walmart.
On the one hand, I admire the company’s business prowess and its efforts to move the needle where social commerce is concerned with its new Walmart Labs division. On the other, coming from a small town I’ve seen first hand the deleterious effect its presence can have on small local business.
Though it may not mean much, small business still trumps Walmart where Facebook is concerned.
Last year Walmart initiated a program to create individual Facebook Pages for each of its 3,500 stores. It hasn’t worked out so well.
A new study from Facebook marketing company Recommend.ly (as reported in AdAge) found that, on average, fewer than four percent have more than 1,000 fans, and that 85 percent of Walmart’s local-store pages didn’t respond to any fan comments during the study. By contrast, of the 1,900 local-business pages surveyed, 22 percent had more than 1,000 fans.
“Local businesses generate more engagement than Walmart local stores because they have more local content, including local promotions or responses to local events, activities or weather,” said Venkata Ramana, CEO of Recommend.ly. ”Walmart local stores tend to be posting what is centrally controlled. We see very little that’s localized.”
The following quote, which comes from an interview done by AllFacebook.com with Ramana, explains things in greater deatil:
“I think the problem is that they don’t have any local content strategy in place. In Walmart San Francisco, maybe a guy sitting in San Francisco could be expecting some kind of content relating to San Francisco, not a generic discount that you have anyway on the Walmart page. There’s nothing unique about local pages that Walmart is doing currently, and if you look at the responsiveness of the page owners when it comes to the main pages and the local pages, the local pages really don’t give any feedback or response.”
Just because you call something local doesn’t mean it is. In Newton, Mississippi, the small town I come from, Garvin’s Food Center is local. Walmart Supercenter is not. And just because Walmart may hire local residents doesn’t change its image as an interloper. That fact becomes readily apparent when you look at a true local business’s Facebook Page and one that isn’t, even though it may pretend to be.
So, why has Walmart’s experiment with localization fail? For one simple reason: local it’s not.
Score one for the little guys.