I try to help companies when it comes to the web, in fact the tagline on this blog is “Jeremiah discusses how web tools enable companies to connect with customers” Consider this free advice from myself and the community for Wal-Mart. I hope Richard Edelman and Steve Rubel see this –this comes from the community that knows this space, don’t pass up our free advice.
There’s a healthy discussion in my previous post indicating that Wal-Mart’s Facebook campaign is not going that great, at first, I thought it was salvageable, but now I’m realizing from the comments that the damage to the brand is causing this rejection. The Wal-Mart brand appears to be so tainted that the social media programs are not accepting (There’s a long history, go look it up, from the MySpace clone, to the astroturfing blogs).
[The Wal-Mart brand is so badly damaged that it's campaigns are not being accepted in the social media sphere, to correct, Wal-Mart needs a trusted evangelist to reach, fix, and be human]
Web Strategist, Connie Benson, suggested in the comments that what Wal-Mart needs is an evangelist. Someone that will authentically, and transparently, and with passion will address the core issues, embrace and build community (even detractors) to provide a linkage and show that Wal-Mart has real live humans. (Update: AdnohrYak was the first to suggest the evangelist should be a woman, thanks to you both!)
Both Microsoft and Dell had damaged brands: The software giant was known as the the “evil empire”, and PC giant was going to “hell“. In response, both of these companies made a smart and strategic move to elevate or hire the right type of folks to change how one-way communications have failed. Robert Scoble (now my colleague and VP) put a human face on Microsoft, and even became the biggest critic of his own employer –forcing the community to join him, and Lionel Menchaca (my video interview with him) who launched the Dell blog, engaged detractors (even in person) and helped to spearhead the revolutionary IdeaStorm. In the end, many of the problems may or may not be fixed, but the perception has absolutely changed.
It’s clear to me now (Thanks Connie and community), that Wal-Mart’s online web tactics in the social mediasphere will not be accepted, in fact they will all be rejected until the bigger problem is fixed. Wal-Mart needs an evangelist to engage real humans, address the issues (and fix ‘em too) and engage detractors head-on, via the web. Both Robert and Lionel had different tactics to change their own mediaspheres, so a unique strategy will have to come from Wal-Mart.
Connie has recently commented again, and doesn’t think that either a Lionel or a Scoble would fix the brand, she suggests that:
“As to what type of person, I agree with Adnohryak that it needs to be a woman. But not a single mom. I think it needs to be a woman that is strong enough to speak out intelligently initially to turn the brand around, but viewed as an avg American shopper. And yes, she needs to appeal to a range of ages & guys too. She will need to have strong leadership skills in order to support & motivate her evangelists because in the beg. it’s going to be a challenge. So the woman should be a cross between Robert & Lionel – someone who knows the tools to use, be out there with a strong message & intelligently utilize both.” –Connie Benson
I know exactly where to find strong, intelligent women, they should start with BlogHer.
By the way, I come from experience, I was a Community Manager at Hitachi (started this way back in 2005), read “How to be a Community Manager“, and am involved with the community event series called Lunch 2.0, here’s how to have a successful community event.