[New Study] Walmart on Facebook: Is local market engagement working?

Posted by | Posted in Research | Posted on 20-09-2012|

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Recommend.ly is back with a new study. This time, using Conversation Score (CScore) to measure if Walmart is living up buying viagra in chicago to expectations with its 3,500 local store Pages.

Want to find out more? Here goes!

Walmart on Facebook

Is Local Market Engagement working?

Executive Summary

Walmart is betting big on local market engagement via social media with the launch of its 3,500 local store Facebook Pages. However, research by Recommend.ly shows that the main corporate page[1] continues to get all the attention from the brand and also from its fans. Since their launch in 2011, Walmart’s 3,500 local store pages have had very low consumer impact, when measured using the Recommend.ly Conversation Score (CScore).

 

Key Findings

  • The Facebook Pages that Walmart has established for its local stores are not popular with consumers. Only 4 percent of the local Walmart Pages have more than 1,000 fans,whereas CScore data shows that 22 percent of local businesses[2] manage to accumulate more than 1,000 fans.
  • 54 percent of local Pages scored less than 20[3] on CScore, and only 3 Pages out of 2,799 exceeded a CScore of 50. In stark contrast, 27 percent of local businesses tend to score above 50. Meanwhile, Walmart’s main Facebook Page scored a respectable CScore of66.
  • On its main Facebook Page,Walmart responded to fans on more than 22 percent of posts — a healthy number for a Page posting 5 updates per day. The local Pages, however, posted an average of only 1.24 updates per day,and 85 percent of the local Pages never responded to their fans.

Recommendations

  • Local stores should be allowed to control their content and localize the tone. Central teams should control only the calendar and set broad policy. Stores should also have access to social CRM systems to ensure they respond to Fans in time.
  • Page performance should be quantified through scoring and tracked closely. Pages should have minimum score targets and be incentivized for high performance.
  • Increasing fan count on local Pages through sustained campaigns and store visibility should be a focus area. Enticing existing fans from the corporate page to local pages will help.

DOWNLOAD report (pdf)

Analysis

Introduction

In a widely publicized move, retail giant Walmart partnered with Facebook in October 2011[4] to create 3,500 Facebook Pages for its local stores across the United States. Through My Local Walmart, the Bentonville, Ark-based mega-chain aimed to drive its (then) more than 9 millionFacebook fans (now at 19.5 million fans) to its local store Pages, and buildbrand loyalty with “enhanced local interaction at an unprecedented scale.” As might be expected, this news got the attentionof social media marketers worldwide. Walmart’s move also validated what experts have been advising marketers about social media – ‘you need to take it local and make it personal.

Given the importance attached to the initiative by both Walmart and Facebook, Recommend.ly conducted an extensive study to discover how it has been faring so far. Measuring the success of the initiative will help other businesses emulating Walmart and validate Walmart’s objectives.

Using its new Page-scoring tool – Conversation Score – the research team at Recommend.ly set out to study the My Local Walmart story on Facebook. The resulting trends reveal a lot about enterprise behavior on social media and make an interesting case study for other marketers.

 

Methodology

We mined a sample of 2,799 Walmart local store URLs, representing 80 percent of all its Pages on Facebook. (The rest of the URLs were hard to find, so we focused our attention on where the action was)

The sample was then run through our new Page-scoring tool, “Conversation Score” (CScore) widget, which yielded accurate data for key engagement metrics. CScore collected publicly available page data for 30 days prior to the date of the study. Usually it takes just a few minutes to interpret and draw CScore insights for a single Page. Considering the size of the sample and the significance of the study, we spent a few days slicing and dicing the results.

The results were compared to 1,884 local business Pages from CScore’s database to see how Page owners in comparable markets are performing.

CScore results of Walmart Pages were analyzed for the following attributes:

  1. Fan count analysis
  2. CScore distribution
  3. Content sharing habits (Broadcasting)
  4. Virality of the content
  5. Responsiveness of the Page to fans
  6. Popularity of the Pages with fans

What follows is a detailed analysis of Walmart Pages on each of the above attributes.

 

A. Fan Count Analysis

The Fan Count of a Page is a fairly significant metric for measuring its popularity. Fans usually respond to brands with a ‘Pagelike’ first, and then engage at a post level.

Fan count trends of Walmart Pages reveal interesting facts about the popularity of Walmart’s localized experience on Facebook.

Table1: Fan count growth of Walmart Pages

Page type

Fan count in October 2011 Fan count in August 2012

Incremental fans

Walmart main Page

9 million+

19.5 million+

10.5 million

Walmart local pages

0

2 million[5]

2 million

Observations:

My Local Walmart was designed to move fan engagement from the corporate brand level to individual stores. However, in spite of the efforts, it is the main brand Page of Walmart that is still spearheading its case on Facebook.

  • Only 1 out of 10 fans of Walmart have adapted to the localized experience.
  • The local pages, all put together, have only 2 million fans, compared to nearly 20 million fans the main Page has.
  • Since My Local Walmart was launched, the main Page managed to increase

    its Fan count by more than 10 million.

Evidently, the move isn’t as popular with the fans as the brand would like it to be.

Table2: Fan count distribution of 2,799 Walmart local store Pages

Range (fans)

Number of Pages

Distribution %

0 – 100

266

9.64%

101 – 1,000

2433

86.92%

1,001 – 10,000

99

3.54%

10,001 – 100,000

1

0.04%

> 100,000

0

0%

Compared to this, the local business Pages were found to be struggling to cross the 100 fans mark. But a higher percent could cross 1,000 fans or more than Walmart.

Table3: Fan count distribution of 1,884 local business Pages

Range (fans)

Number of Pages

Distribution %

0 – 100

659

34.98%

101 – 1,000

811

43.05%

1,001 – 10,000

342

18.15%

10,001 – 100,000

55

2.92%

> 100,000

17

0.90%

  • Only 4 percentof the My Local WalmartPages have more than 1,000 fans. Compared to this, 22 percent of local businesses have more than 1,000 fans – 5.5 times more than Walmart. Clearly, the retail giant, with its might and muscle, can do better here.
  • Only one local Walmart Page has more than 10,000 fans – 53,766 fans at the time of going to press. Interestingly, this is a store in Kodiak, Alaska – a town that has a population of 6,130 as per 2010 census. As it turns out, this rogue value is due to a prank and not Walmart’s own efforts.
  • Some of the Walmart Pages appear to have been set up very recently, suggesting that there is a lot of work in progress.

Figure 1: Fan count distribution – Walmart local stores compared to local business Pages on Facebook

 

 

Infographic 1: Popularity of Walmart's local store Pages on Facebook

B. Conversation Score

 

 

About Conversation Score

Conversation Score (“CScore”) measures a Facebook Page’s performance on a scale of 0 to 99. CScore analyzes four metrics representing the efforts of a Page owner and the corresponding results- a Page’s effectiveness at building engaging conversations (Broadcasting and Response to fans) and the fan response to its efforts (Virality and Fan Love).

 

 

 

Conversation Score (“CScore”) measures not just the Page popularity, but overall effectiveness of a Facebook Page as a social marketing property. To read more about Conversation Score, click here.

Walmart’s main Page and its local Pages were measured for effectiveness using  CScore. To contract these results with a wider dataset, we compared these measurements with a larger sample from our own database of Facebook brand Pages. The results, again, show that Walmart local Pages have yet to gain momentum on Facebook.

Observations

Walmart’s main brand Page scored a healthy CScore of 66 and was rated a ‘Fan Favorite’, with 19.5 million fans and an extraordinary 7 percent active fans. (For Pages with more than 10 million fans, 7 percent active users is an excellent achievement. It is interesting to note,of the 124 CScore users with 10 million+ fans, only 2.17 percent of the fans were active)

Brief analysis of Walmart’s CScore:

  • Walmart’s main Page is very good at starting conversations with its fans. The Page scored high on broadcasting with an average 4.42 posts per day.
  • In spite of the high number of conversations it starts, the Page still managed to respond to over 22 percent of the discussions on its Page, earning 4 CScore stars for Response to Fans.
  • However, the fans do not seem to appreciate the quality of content. Fans of Walmart gave only 0.23 percent viral reach to its content, earning the Page only 1 CScore star for Virality.

Compared to the relative success of the main Page, the local store Pages were found to be hugely lacking on CScore.

  • Only 3 Pages scored CScore of above 50, out of the sampled 2,799. That’s about 0.01 percent!
  • 53.8 percent of the store Pages had a CScore below 20.
  • Another 45.7 percent scored between 20 and 40.
  • Only 12 Pages scored between 40 and 50.

This clearly demonstrates that the local stores aren’t being managed as well as the main Page. One possible reason could be that there is a whole army of specialist social media managers manning the main brand Page, whereas the local store Pages are managed by regional teams with less advanced social media skills.

Compared to this, local business Pages have healthier distribution. 27 percent local business Pages have a CScore of 50 or above

Figure 2: Conversation Score distribution – Walmart local stores compared to local business Pages on Facebook

Infographic 2: CScore highlights of Walmart's local store Pages on Facebook

C. Analysis of CScore

Broadcasting

 

 

Measures the number of conversations started by a Page.

Broadcasting is important on

Facebook to start conversations between the brand and the fans. Facebook itself encourages posting more than once per day to stay relevant on fans’ newsfeeds.

However, there is no ‘right number’ of posts to be made by brands except for the general rule of at least one per day. Business objectives of a Page determine the number of posts to be made. Recommend.ly’s study shows that Walmart has a clear policy of posting regular updates to the Pages and drives the local stores to do the same.

Table 4: Broadcasting habits of Walmart and local businesses

Particulars Walmart Main Page Walmart Local Pages Local Business Pages

Average updates per day

4.42 updates

1.24 updates

0.92 updates

a. Status

7.5%

7.0%

16.8%

b. Images

79.3%

89.1%

50.2%

c. Videos

5.7%

0.0%

3.1%

d. Others

7.5%

3.9%

29.9%

  • The Walmart local stores make an average 1.24 posts per day, compared to the 4.42 posts made by the main Page
  • Local businesses lag on this metric. Content sourcing is still a problem for a majority of Pages on Facebook
  • 95 percent of the stores scored 3 CScore stars or more for Broadcasting. This shows that these Pages are making regular efforts to start conversations.

 

Type of content

Selecting the right type of content is important for Facebook Pages. There is a broad agreement among experts and brands that visual content brings the highest engagement. Walmart seems to believe that, and to a great effect:

  • 85 percent of all updates on Walmart’s main Page are photos or videos.
  • Walmart local stores, too, follow a similar trend – 90 percent of all the updates on local store Pages are photos or videos.
  • Rest of the updates are either Links or plain Status updates for both main Page and local store Pages.
  • The study did not find any questions or polls posted by the Pages during the 30 days under study. Along with visual content, asking questions is a great way to get fans talking.

Response to Fans

Measures the Pages’ response rates to conversations on own Page

Posting regularly to the Page isn’t the end objective, and will not drive up engagement by itself. Conversational Pages tend to seize any opportunity to prolong the engagement and keep a popular conversation relevant for longer.

For retail brands like Walmart, it is essential to score high on this metric because fans tend to connect with brands on Facebook for quick answers and resolutions to problems. The worst effect of bad response management is that disappointed fans quickly demonize unresponsive brands. Ignoring a fan’s query or (worse) suppressing it  can cause social media crises. Here is a recent example of a riled Walmart fan that could have been easily avoided with a simple response.

Table5: Responsiveness – Walmart local store Pages

Posts responded to Walmart Local Page Distribution

0%

84.70%

0% – 5%

12%

5% – 10%

2.90%

10% – 15%

0.30%

15% -20%

0.10%

>20%

0.0%

CScore measured Walmart’s responsiveness on Facebook and found that there is a lot of room for improvement:

  • The main Page appears to be on the right path, and earned 4 stars for its responsiveness.
  • The same cannot be said about the local store Pages. A whopping 85 percent of the Pages never responded to fans engaging with them on Facebook. That is, 0 CScore stars. This could be among the biggest reasons for the low popularity of local store Pages.
  • Only 2 percent of the Pages earned 2 CScore stars for their responsiveness. 98 percent earned just 1 star or none.
  • Walmart Kodiak, the best local Page, comes on top for this metric with a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. Even the main Page lags this store in responsiveness.
  • Pages that scored at least 2 stars on this metric have a CScore of at least 30.

 

Fan Love

Measures popularity of the Page and fan activity

There seems to be a distinct lack of enthusiasm from the fans for the local store Pages and Walmart itself doesn’t seem to have made enough efforts.

  • The Walmart main Page was always going to score high with so many fans and a high percentage of active users.
  • The local stores fall short of expectations dramatically, with about 96 percent of Pages scoring just one star, mostly on account of low fan counts.
  • The average fan count

    of local stores is at 563 fans per Page and 9.5 percent of Pages have less than 100 fans.

  • Only Walmart Kodiak managed to score 3 CScore stars and 2 percent of the Pages managed to score 2 CScore stars for Fan Love.
  • The active fan percent metric is a saving grace, though. An average 5 percent of fans tend to be active on the local store Pages, demonstrating that local fans are interested in staying in touch. Probably brand fans are finding it difficult to find their way to a local Page.

Table6: Page popularity metrics – Walmart local stores and local businesses

Particulars

Walmart Local Local businesses

Average Fans

563

4,207

Average Active fan %

5.2%

12.2%

  • Compare this to local business – both Average fan count and Average active fan percent are much higher than Walmart.

Note: The Walmart local store Pages are expected to score low on ‘Fan Love’ metric because of the weight given to absolute fan count. It is understandably difficult for local Pages to hit the million-fan mark. Notwithstanding, most active local business Pages are found to score between 2 and 3 stars on Fan love, which only 2 percent of Walmart Pages managed to achieve.

 

Conclusion

 

Walmart appears to have a content strategy including posting policy in place. However, it is not evident that they have store-level targets for acquiring or engaging fans. At least, none that seems to be working yet.

One particular observation is the use ofcentralized content strategy. This is probably contrary to the philosophy of localizing Facebook for fans. To localize the experience completely, even Page management has to be largely localized.

  • To begin with, Walmart can immediately ramp up fan numbers for their local stores through targeted advertising and localized offers in exchange for Page likes. Walmart corporate is no stranger to rapid fan expansion, so the lessons need to be passed on to the local stores.
  • Measuring Page effectiveness through CScore or a similar scoring tool at regular intervals will ensure that store Pages have a target to achieve and a reason to compete with each other. Social media effectiveness is hard to measure otherwise.
  • Walmart should also employ a social CRM system to track fan comments and respond to them without fail. Recommend.ly’s daily reports automatically extract this information. The stores can manually track and ensure higher response rates.
  • Local stores need to devise their own content strategy to customize their content to local fans, adhering to a broad policy controlled by the central team. Following a standard content library across Pages isn’t working.

DOWNLOAD report (pdf)


[2]Based on a study of 1,884 Local Business pages using CScore. Walmart local pages are compared to local businesses due to comparable market addressed by both

[3] CScore is measured on a scale of 0 to 100

[5]1.57 million fans for 2,799 Pages – extrapolated to 3,500 Pages

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