Social Media Marketing Errors of Wal-Mart at Facebook
hereas Target’s social media marketing efforts at Facebook were lauded and hailed as a resounding success, its competitor, Wal-Mart did not do as well in the same social network. In fact, in the estimation of some social media marketing authorities, Wal-Mart’s social media marketing foray failed miserably.
Target’s success was attributed to its having done competent research on the medium before engaging with it, and then adapting its message and language to the Facebook culture. Target was able to make a perfect fit.
Wal-Mart, on the other hand, either did not do its preliminary research, or just decided to have its own way. Actually, Wal-Mart already started out with a disadvantage. It has been widely criticized for its labor practices. Its corporate reputation has been under fire. Its presence on Facebook, therefore, could have been a way to face and defuse these controversies, if properly handled. It seemed that the people who were doing the campaign felt that they were not prepared to face full dialogue on the page, though. Wal-Mart did not put up a discussion board like Target did, and limited all comments and feedback to wall posts. Even when questioned on the absence of a forum, Wal-Mart did not budge.
Facebook members are quick to sense such efforts to restrict feedback, and will not take it quietly. The wall posts were soon overtaken by negative comments.
Wal-Mart was also perceived as insincere when it veered away from its identity as a company. Known for discounts, it suddenly tried to project itself on Facebook as an authority on fashion, style and taste. This came across as fake and pretentious and Facebook members openly expressed widespread disapproval.
Wal-Mart attracted only less than a third of the members that Target gained in Facebook, and many of those who visited the Wal-Mart page left disparaging comments. The entire campaign backfired because Wal-Mart’s Facebook page could very well be used as a testimonial to its competitor.
Companies and professional organizations cannot risk making serious errors in their social media marketing campaigns. Perhaps not joining social media networks at all would be better than sabotaging their own names inadvertently through errors. These days, though, social media networks have become so entrenched in popular culture that a company or organization’s absence in them would mean missing out on valuable opportunities to connect with a huge part of their audience. The solution is to seek the help of the right social media marketing experts. Wal-Mart may not have chosen well.
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