Sam Walton had it right – the old retail model where the local store owner knew everyone in town, knew their likes and dislikes, and knew what they were going to buy almost before the customer did – really works. And Wal-Mart is using social media to bring this old retail model into the age of smartphones.
Wal-Mart has created thousands of Facebook pages, one for each of its brick and mortar locations. At each location, key employees who have received some training in how to manage social media maintain the pages and interact with their local customers. While the emphasis is certainly on letting customers know about specials or new products, the local Wal-Mart employees are also able to engage their neighbors in discussions about local events, sports news, or other items of interest.
According to a report published by Mainstay Salire, local Facebook pages already outperform corporate pages by a factor of 40 (their infographic shown below summarizes their findings). This success hasn’t gone unnoticed as other companies, including Home Depot and Quiznos, have begun rolling out their local Facebook pages as well.
You might feel great that your corporate Facebook page has hundreds of thousands of fans but it seems like the real place to engage customers is on the local level. Here’s a link to an AdAge article with more information on this topic.