Wal-mart’s done it again! Only this time they might just be getting it right.
They’ve started a new blog – this one written by real employees writing real posts about topics for which they have real passion.
The new blog is called Checkout. There are 9 authors who write the posts. They are mostly buyers for videos, computers, electronic gadgets, and toys. There is also a Director in charge of making Wal-mart a greener and more environmentally sustainable business.
Although many of the posts are thinly veiled sales pitches (these are buyers afterall), some of them really do seem to be inviting dialogue with their customers. I especially liked this question, which received 53 comments.
I know food, in general, is a very sensitive topic for a lot of people, but what do you think should and can be done in the short term to make the industrialized food chain better? What products should Wal-Mart have that they don’t to meet your desires for a more sustainable food assortment? If you could choose one item you would want remove from stores, what would it be?
I think the bloggers on Checkout recognize the wealth of information that they as buyers can get from the blog. Blogging not only allows them to share their passion for new products with potential customers, it also enables them to tap into a real-time, inexpensive focus group, to test out their own theories on buying the “next big thing”.
Wal-mart may have at last found a blog style that works.
- Ease of finding: 9 – link on Corporate page labeled “Wal-mart blog”
- Frequency : 8 – posts every few days, sometimes twice in a day
- Engaging writing: 8 – the bloggers are developing their own style and improving their ability to engage their readers
- Relevant: 7 – The topics seem relevant to consumers – new games, gadgets, electronics, movies, and insights into upcoming policies and trends
- Focused: 8 – There are several themes in the one blog – games, gadgets, movies, sustainability, and lawn & garden; the mix can be a confusing jumble of perceptions, which is not unlike walking the aisles of Wal-mart – so it seems consistent with the brand.
- Honest: 9 – The blog appears to be publishing all comments whether they are positive or negative. Their editorial policy discourages spam, foul language, off-topic (including customer service), and personally identifiable information.
- Interactive: 7 – Checkout is pretty open to comments, but there doesn’t seem to be any other effort underway to get readers more involved – there are no discussion forums , livechats, contests or polls.
- Responsive: 6 – It doesn’t appear that the bloggers are responding directly to the comments. But I did see some posts based on comments readers have left, or updates that were done to clarify the posts in response to questions in comments. Since some of the posts are actively soliciting suggestions about which products to stock and which not, it will be interesting to see whether Wal-mart listens to the opinions of the reades. In addition, it will be interesting to see whether Wal-mart underscores the fact that they listened and acted on subsequent blog posts.
Wal-mart scored a 62 out of 80 possible points. That’s a valiant score considering some of their other previous efforts. They could increase that score by putting more of their personality into the posts – they don’t want it to turn into a sales pitch. They could also engage the readers more by responding directly to their comments, opening up forums, livechats, contests, etc.
What do you think? How would you rate Wal-mart’s blog? Do you think it will enable them to 1) learn more about their customers and 2) improve their public reputation?
And more importantly, what lessons can you learn from Wal-mart’s experiences with blogging?
Thanks to Susan Gunelius at Brandcurve for pointing out the Wal-mart blog.
photo credit: Brave New Films