Wal-Mart is one of the top companies of the United States and it has rapidly grown into a huge corporation over the last few years in which it gained a massive business success with its marketing tactics and sales. There is a set of business strategies and plans through which the company has worked its way to the top and no other corporation has reached such a high level of global expansion in a limited period like Wal-Mart (Wal-Mart stores 3). Though the use of facebook as a social marketing medium in Wal-Mart had begun in a discouraging note, the organization did not give up creating other social media sites such as blogs through which it could conduct vigorous social marketing (William 14).
The purpose of this research is the need to understand the operational structure of the organization and how it works within the industry. The purpose is to look at the factors which make Wal-Mart unique and different from other such organizations that are producing the same products and applying the same marketing tactics to their business but get lower results. The aim is to look at the target market and how the company fulfils its expectations through the use of social media and other advertising ways (ANNE 52).
The methodology of the research was online. It was conducted through a number of reliable websites that provided an informative outlook on the current and previous situation of the organization and what kind of social media strategies it brings into use for business expansion and success. Information about the strengths and weaknesses of the company and also the threats that the organization faces because of being number one were looked at (ANNE 52).
The official website of Wal-Mart also provided valuable information about the suppliers and investors of the company and it also mentions various projects Wal-Mart is helping the community with and anyone who visits their official website can easily follow or like them on twitter and face book as well to remain connected. Wal-Mart has become the target competition globally and even locally for all other corporations thus the competition and production of better marketing tactics for consumer attraction increases. Websites such as epinions.com have online reviews of local customers who purchase products at Wal-Mart on a daily basis. Their feedback also provided many conclusions and results that were significant to the research (William 14).
Organizational Use of Social Media
Social media platforms included facebook ads, television ads within the US, posters, brochures and even radio advertisements. Twitter played a very important role in marketing Wal-Mart by updating people each second about new product offers and promotions. Most of these social media sources were effective and successful although, Wal-Mart lost some of its sales when it stopped focusing on its initial slogan, “Save money. Live better” in advertisements and billboards. It started promoting new items and stopped focusing on everyday products that were available on low prices in the store and were the main reason of customer attraction and attachment to the brand. Later on the corporation noticed the business going down and started focusing on its slogan again instead of marketing a number of selected items. The top consumer rated items at Wal-Mart include baby clothing items, music, food, jewellery, books, electronics and video games (Wal-Mart stores 3).
Wal-Mart’s Social Marketing Analysis
Following the birth of Facebook as one of the trendiest social networking site in the world, marketers in various organizations are not hesitating in targeting Facebook users. In this case, we are going to focus on the impact of social internet marketing on Wal-mart. The analysis will be more succinct if we compare the organization with Target, its competitor. In this comparison, Facebook will become our selected form of social internet marketing. Through facebook, the focus of Wal-Mart has been on its marketing message. This means that Wal-Mart stresses on the kind of information to communicate to the clients through Facebook. For instance, when they want to focus on public relations, they post messages related to helping the community. Wal-Mart also restricts feedback and comments to “Wall Posts”, besides injecting heavy moderation on the feedback and comments. The organization also gives little emphasis on deep discounts, its core brand value, in the name of giving taste/style or fashion advice to its facebook clients (Singh Shiv & Diamond 36).
Target on the other hand is different from Wal- Mart through a number of aspects. First, Target has focused on not only opening a discussion board but also allowing two-way chats or conversation. The organization also spend time in understanding the way facebook clients were conducting their interactions with each other, turning down the marketing message’s volume. During the time when Target was launching its successful facebook marketing campaign, Wal-Mart was also testing internet facebook marketing. However, Wal-Mart did not manage to achieve much results, bringing the question of why did it not achieve? One fatal mistake that Wal-Mart did was that of assuming that social marketing was the same as offline conventional marketing medium. This is because the offline marketing normally crowns the winner by making its volume regarding on the selected marketing message the loudest. Things are different in social internet marketing. The better listener, who can wisely follow what people say and comment on Facebook often triumph in the marketing competition (Singh Shiv & Diamond 36).
Target also did a wonderful job in engaging Facebook users via discussion boards. Wal-Mart on the other hand was restricting dialogue to rely on “Wall Posts.” Wal-Mart was also investing on heavy moderation of what was allowed. Upon noticing that Wal-Mart was lacking the two-way dialogue, the organization’s marketing strategy backfired immediately. The former users for Wal-Mart turned their backs on the organization and started posting anti Wal-Mart torrential comments. In contrast, Target was making students and users as owners of the discussion group who were shaping the dialogue in the site (Boone & Kurtz 60).
Wal-Mart also committed another big mistake of straying away from its main identity as a big supermarket that was offering deep discounts. When Wal-Mart focused on offering style and fashion advice to the users instead of engaging users on their deep discounts, it did not know that the act was suicidal to its performance. It should therefore, have focused on their main value proposition regarding deep discount via offering deep discounts on such supplies as back-to-school and Christmas items. The company should also have thought of how it could disarm critics that were choosing otherwise.
Wal-Mart had a reputation when it comes to labor practices and corporate reputation. Therefore, they were supposed to understand that by the time they embrace social marketing, criticism and comments would be inevitable in their campaign. Because of this inevitability, the company was supposed to be prepared to manage by going open and engaging users. Instead, the company did the worst thing by restricting dialogue and focusing on one instead of two-way communication plan (Boone & Kurtz 60).
This difference in facebook marketing strategies led to very different results. One of the most outstanding outcome is that Wal-Mart got at least two thousand members who took part in such activities as roommate quiz. The discussions hosted by Target were as high as 37 during their entire marketing campaign period.
Strength of Wal-Mart in Social Marketing
Despite its poor start, there is clear evidence that Wal-Mart is going to turn tables and become the biggest social media success story. It is clear that Wal-Mart is preparing itself well to take over the mantle of social marketing from the hands of such competitors as Target. There is no way Wal-Mart can ignore the social media considering the fact that it is still receiving 138 million Americans in their stores each week. There is no way Wal-Mart can hide from the social media. Wal-Mart has never given up trying its luck in the social media. This can be demonstrated by such things as Walmart. Com. Through this site, the company manages to sell stuff worth more than a billion dollars each year . The organization has no fear of the negative reviews and criticisms from the clients. It is using the site to drive hard and serious campaigns with its different suppliers. From the wild reviews it receives, the company has gotten concrete evidence indicating the products that the consumers consider as having acceptable quality (Roberts & Berg 48).
Another social marketing tool employed by Wal-Mart is Wal-Mart’s buyer blog. This blog is growing rapidly in popularity. It is making it possible for the company to be part of the conversations concerning products. The Wal-Mart product folks consider it as a genuine voice. It enables the users to explain and comment on such decisions as choosing HD-DVD over Blu-Ray. Through this blog, Wal-Mart has learnt joining conversation and discussion, even in an environment laden with critics. It is not suppressing those disagreeing (Epinions 36).
Another social marketing tool employed by Wal-Mart is elevenmoms.com. Through this blog, the company has captured a he number of mommy bloggers who are interested in writing such topics as the way to feed the family frugally, and other interesting women stuff. Being pretty sophisticated internet blogs, Wal-Mart has retained them carefully, just linking its products to the blogs for reviews. These bloggers have developed good relationship with Wal-Mart and they do their things in a way that conforms to Wal-Mart’s expectations.
Wal-Mart has also embraced Twitter as one of the social media for advertising its products. It has created an account called handle@WalmartSpecials. The organization does its advertising through the feature of Promoted Accounts that is offered by Twitter. In order to be featured on this account, Wal-Mart pays placement fee. Wal-Mart is however, not affected by this investment since it has realized the merits of using Twitter as a social marketing platform. Through its account on Twitter, Wal-Mart will be in the position of pushing promotions to its followers on Twitter. Though it may not translate well into great sales, Twittering remains as an effective way through which Wal-Mart can reach and have more audience. It is important therefore, to note that Wal-Mart is a very serious and active marketer on Twitter (Evans 82).
SWOT/Competitive Analysis Based On Social Media Conversations
Wal-Mart is famous because of its product quality, good service in all stores and also because a large variety of products related to everything is found conveniently in one place. It has expanded globally during the recent year and holds almost 50% of the retail store market in the US. The company has used information technology very effectively in order to improve its logistics program and have a better well managed organization that runs smoothly through satellite systems. Wal-Mart can see the performance of its products at any branch and any part of the country in a fleeting look. Since the company has expanded on a very large scale it sometimes has its flaws when it comes to control and management because of the huge business scale (Wal-Mart stores 3).
Although the company is international and is expanding globally, it is not present in a large number of countries worldwide and is still making a name in the global market. The general public believes that Wal-Mart mainly focused on providing for the middle and lower class so that they can save and live better at the same time but recently its quality of production also aims at serving the upper class due to the current recession in the economy. Complaints about the company from the customers include issues such as gifts cards that do not work lack of cashiers at the store outlets, incorrect billing and poor service.
It can be concluded according to the research and thesis that the company has done business successfully and is always present to serve at a very convenient location with affordable rates to attract everyone. The target market for Wal-Mart is average people belonging to the middle class or upper middle class who want good quality and good rates. It has had a lot of competition over the past years and still is the target in the business market but no other company has been as successful as Wal-Mart even after following all of its business and marketing strategies. The main reason for this is that it has maintained a good brand name over a decade and people trust the company more. There is a lot of space for improvement as the company also faces threats and has flaws because of being so large. The organization management must be improved and the use of IT should be controlled within the company. Employees must be provided with better wages and facilities as compared to the current wage rate the company is following so that they can work more happily and serve customers better.
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