Here’s why brands like Walmart use these strategies to enhance their social media toolkits.
What Customers Expect
Content creation in 2022 has taken a turn with increased customer demand for authentic brand interactions. While many brands have leaned into overly produced and curated content to share their message, it’s often too manufactured and a little too late.
Influencer marketing might still feel like a buzzword in the industry, but it’s been used for the past 15+ years and has evolved to meet these consumer demands and put a familiar face to the brand name.
Some brands have been rumored to spend over $100,000 for a single sponsored Instagram post from celebrities like Kylie Jenner, though most brands don’t have the ability to cough up this type of cash.
With a 72.5% predicted YoY growth in influencer marketing expected for 2022, how is your brand supposed to cut through the noise and stand out with influencers that know your brand and have a loyal audience?
Finding Your Influencers
While getting an influencer post from Kylie Jenner may seem like hitting the jackpot, you may be sitting on a gold mine without even realizing it.
Companies like Walmart are taking a different approach to localize content by creating a community of brand ambassadors by leveraging their employee base of over 1.5 million people. When your employee pool is that big, you come to realize that they are your customer as much as they are your brand.
Walmart CMO William White says today more than ever, companies have the opportunity to get real with the consumer,
“Tapping into the energy and the passion that our associates have for our customers is really important and I think that helps shed an important light on the Walmart brand.”
At Brand Networks, we manage Walmart’s local social strategy by equipping all 4,700 store locations with an easy to use social media publishing tool. Associates can create hyper-localized content relevant to their store and customer base, allowing Walmart to harness the power of the associate’s creativity to reach their audience in a genuine way.
Associate content receives higher engagement and more positive customer sentiment when compared to national handles. It’s clear to see, when associates are the face of the brand they’re empowered to create deeper connections within their local community which reiterates Walmart’s focus on customer centricity.
With over 5K Walmart local social handles across Facebook and Instagram, how can Walmart establish message uniformity, let alone brand safety? William White says the idea of brand safety has evolved and the customer is really the one shaping what the brand is. The key is to be okay with releasing some control, “It can’t be command and control”, says White, “It’s just not realistic in this day and age.”
With dedicated teams at Walmart and Brand Networks driving the local social strategy, associates stay informed and aligned on Walmart’s business goals, while receiving support and empowerment to use their creative freedom to bring that strategy to life in their content. Not only does this result in targeted–yet uniform–local messaging across communities, but it also creates brand loyalty within the company.
Content about an associate promotion or anniversary quickly turns into a viral post picking up national traction. In fact, Walmart’s national social accounts often source content from their local pages to piggyback off the results stores are seeing with their local social presence.
Polished content is on its way out for social and authenticity is what the customer is craving.
Local store accounts managed by associates allow Walmart to give the customer what they want, while staying true to their brand and associates.
A Culture of Influence
Taking things one step further, Walmart’s developed a program specifically for those associates that want to take their influence to the next level. For those championing the store’s social pages, they have an opportunity to gain clout at a national level by opting into Walmart’s Spotlight program. Associates that are a part of Spotlight are equipped with what they need to take part in broader Walmart social media campaigns while sometimes yearning for the content they create. With over 1,500 Spotlight influencers, Walmart is definitely on to something.
A localized approach to social media allows Walmart to show up for the customer in-store and online, through both their store pages and their associate’s accounts, widening their net of influence across local communities and doing something no other brand seems to be doing as well as them.
See the full interview with Walmart CMO, Willian White, from the 2022 Cannes conference here.
If you’re ready to learn more about localizing your content strategy and empowering employees to become brand influencers, we’d love to hear from you.