Why Wal-Mart (WMT) Should Engage Its Detractors On Facebook

 @AlexCKaufman
on September 26 2013 5:40 PM
walmart1percent
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union backs the page The Wal*Mart 1 Percent, which dishes out daily content on what it sees as Wal-Mart's labor abuses. Facebook

Compared to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s (NYSE:WMT) 33 million Facebook fans, the nearly 58,000 fans of a Facebook page made by the retail giant’s union-backed detractors seem like little more than a few rabble-rousers.

But -- as holiday seasonal hiring once again spotlights criticism of Wal-Mart’s treatment of employees -- the world’s biggest retailer is missing a chance to steer the conversation about its brand in pro-Wal-Mart direction.

“When people have a problem, social media gives them a place to air it,” Len Cercone, partner at Boston-based integrated marketing agency CerconeBrownCompany, told International Business Times. “They’ve got a platform to pontificate that is equal to the power of the brands.”

Wal-Mart tops the list of retailers on Facebook, proving that physical hegemony can translate to digital dominance, too.

But while the public relations employees behind the Bentonville, Ark.-based corporation engage some commenters on its page on the social network, the Wal*Mart 1 Percent -- a labor union-backed site that protests the Walton family’s “dismantling" of middle class jobs and "distorting" of democracy -- continues to target the same Facebook users as Wal-Mart itself.

The group, seemingly an offshoot of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union, churns out a daily mix of links and infographics critical of Wal-Mart.

“I’d say that’s a good thing,” Cercone said. “Now we can engage and debate, as opposed to not knowing or not having the conversation.” 

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