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Walmart Reinvented the Impact of Social Media Through Localized Marketing: Learn How



Almost every person in the United States would know what you’re talking about when you say the word “Walmart.” Wouldn’t you like your multi-location business to be as recognizable as the retail giant? While Walmart has been around for years, numerous other multi-location retail stores haven’t seen Walmart’s success. 


To learn more about what Walmart did to achieve success to the level they have, SOCi’s own Rob Reed sat down with Zach Lones, the Director of Social Media Marketing for Walmart, who provided behind the scenes insight into how Walmart has leveraged localized marketing to dominate its industry. Throughout this blog, we’ll dive into the conversation further while also revealing successful tactics from Walmart that you can implement into your localized marketing efforts. 


Introducing Walmart and Localized Marketing 


Zach Lones has worked at Walmart for over a decade and worked his way up to the position he is in today. After managing three stores and improving their social media channels, Walmart CMO, Tony Rogers, asked Zach if he would like to build Walmart’s social media presence across all of its locations. With more than 4,700 stores across the country, this was no easy task. 


At the beginning, Lone started posting on Facebook at the local level every so often. After realizing the benefits of a local social strategy, Lone challenged himself to learn more about e-commerce and the digital customer experience. Through digital marketing, the competition had shifted. Rather than just being worried about a competitor down the street, the competition could also be a national store with a strong online digital presence. To combat this competition, Walmart began strengthening its digital presence and built an online community through Facebook. 


If your multi-location business isn’t sharing content at the local level across social media platforms, you‘re missing opportunities in terms of leads and new customers. Localized content performs 12x better than content that is not localized. If you want your multi-location business to reach a broader audience, localized content is essential. 


A Look Into Walmart’s My Local Social Program 


While Zach was charged to take Walmart’s local social efforts to the next level, Walmart was ahead of the curve when realizing the need for a localized marketing strategy. In 2011, Walmart launched its My Local Social Program. This program ensured that each business location had its local social pages. In the beginning, the pages were in place, but the majority of content shared on the pages was waterfalled from corporate. It wasn’t until 2016 that local marketing teams could share localized content on the pages. 


These local pages were at first created to help with local search. The more local pages your multi-location business has claimed, the more credit Google gives your business, which then improves your rankings. After seeing that these pages helped with search, Walmart wanted to boost their visibility across customers further. Now, Walmart is at the place where all of these local pages are controlled by local stores. Walmart creates 12,000 – 15,000 pieces of content a week, almost all from field associates. 


Lone emphasized that customer and brand loyalty is built by customers feeling connected to your store. While Walmart is a massive corporation, they make each store feel local. Allowing field associates to develop social media content speaks to the customers where they are. For instance, you’d probably market to an Arkansas consumer, different from you’d market to a Massachusetts consumer. Walmarts My Local Social Program allows them to do just this. 


While this program started out focusing on Facebook, it has expanded across Instagram, Tik Tok, and YouTube. Individual stores have various local social pages and can share content on any of the platforms mentioned above. What social channels does your multi-location business focus on? Is there room for expansion or improvement? These are good things to consider when evaluating your local social efforts. 


Additional Key Tactics Walmart Has Leveraged to Achieve Success 


While Walmart’s My Local Social program has been exceptional, other tactics were used along the way that helped Walmart reach the level of success it has today. For instance, while Walmart has their local teams post on social media, they also have meetings at the corporate level to analyze what’s working and what still needs improvement. Walmart has a moderation team that looks at content after it goes live and looks for specific keywords to see how they’re performing. They also look at the content to ensure that it’s within brand guidelines. If there is an issue with the content, they will delete it and connect with the local team to ensure that the content is within brand guidelines in the future. Walmart provides an exemplary example of empowering its local locations to execute on a localized marketing program while maintaining corporate oversight and brand integrity.  


With over 2.1 million local social media posts, only one was flagged for being outside of Walmart’s brand guidelines. This can be attributed to the training program that Walmart puts its social champions through. When a local store manager signs up to be a social champion, they have a one-hour online training session. Also, they offer ongoing voluntary training. Walmart brings in an expert on a specific topic, copywriting, video creators, and more, and will allow the social champions to learn from these experts. These trainings are essential and one of the reasons Walmart has reached a peak when it comes to local social media efforts. 


Start Building Your Own Success Story


As you can see, Walmart has mastered local social media. They have realized the importance of both digital and local experiences for customers. While local social media plays a crucial role in their localized marketing efforts, Lone emphasizes that other businesses shouldn’t discredit the importance of responding to comments online and reviews. He also explains that many Walmart locations have excelled because of their focus on customer service. Your multi-location business must consider all of these aspects of localized marketing to beat the competition. For more information and the full interview with Zach Lones, Director of Social Media Marketing for Walmart, check out the latest Clicks 2 Bricks podcast episode. It’s a must-listen for multi-location marketers. 


Walmart’s story needs to inspire your localized marketing efforts. You can learn from this retail giant and elevate your strategies to reach the next level of localized marketing success. If you need help improving your current localized marketing strategy, SOCi is here to help! SOCi is the central command for multi-location marketers and the all-in-one platform for your multi-location marketing needs. SOCi’s automated smart rules, notifications, and approval workflows make it easy for corporate and local teams to collaborate on every aspect of their localized marketing efforts. For more information on how SOCi can help improve your localized marketing strategy, request a demo today!