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Sep 8
Fortune 500 Corporate Blog Review Series: Wal-Mart
Continuing this new series reviewing Fortune 500 companies' use of of corporate blogs (see yesterday's discussion of ExxonMobil's apparent non-involvement in blogging), today it's Wal-Mart's turn (NYSE: WMT) to come under my scrutinizing eye (and hopefully yours, too).  Wal-Mart is the #2-ranked company in the Fortune 500.)

I can only find one official Wal-Mart corporate blog.  It's called Life At Wal-Mart.  And it's not very well-known.  Technorati counts just 25 links from 11 blogs to the Life at Wal-Mart blog in the past six months.  (Make that 26 and 12 now.)  How come?

My answer would be that the blog, while upbeat, is boring and unconversational.  It does have a basic Atom feed, but that's about it as far as functionality.  The posts are by different Wal-Mart employees of various kinds, which you might think would be interesting.  And I admit that some of the stories, while extremely brief, are fun to read.  But since there is NO way to make comments at or send trackbacks to the blog, NO clear way to contact whoever's in charge of the blog (does this count?) and NO way to connect with other readers of the blog, I really can't see why Wal-Mart is even calling it a blog in the first place.

Another thing I don't like is that it's mostly made up of rah-rah, hail-Wal-Mart posts.  I couldn't find any discussion of criticisms against the company, no explanations of policy changes - not even any links outside the blog to anything either positive or negative.  It's just extremely isolated and no wonder hardly anyone seems to notice it.  Is that the effect Wal-Mart wants to generate with its blog?

Wal-Mart has made interesting choices involving blogging before.  Now is the time for it to revamp its lone corporate blog and reconnect with a public that is increasingly using blogs to talk about the company!

Those are my initial thoughts.  What do you think?  How could Wal-Mart's blog improve?  What's it doing right or wrong and why?

8 Comments/Trackbacks

Did I mention how much I love your blog?

The Wal-Mart blog makes me feel bad because I know some people at Edelman working on it and the company's blogging efforts.

Unfortunately, this is not--in my definition of what makes a good blog--what I call successful.

Deaf rebuttal of rebuke and braggadocio are not elements of a good blog. As a matter of fact, it usually takes the opposite. Good ears, open conversation and a certain amount of humility toward criticism.

Good thoughts, Owen. I've heard from multiple sources now that Edelman helps Wal-Mart out with this and other Wal-Mart-related blogs (see ForWalMart.com and PaidCritics.com). Those other two blogs vex me to no end!

Wal-Mart has been an important Edelman client for quite a while. Recently they've also recruited Leslie Dach, who was previously vice chairman at Edelman.
See http://www.walmartfacts.com/articles/4361.aspx and also this interesting exchange on Richard Edelman's blog:

"The posts are by different Wal-Mart employees of various kinds"

Do we really know that? Not that I'm paranoid, I simply think that the fact that none of the alleged authors are identified by full name or can be contacted directly is quite dubious. Obviously there is a lot of editing going on, the goal being to send a carefully vetted positive message. The reason for using a diverse cast of "writers" is that it makes the product seem more authentic. And this is a packaged product, not a conversation between real people.

You're exactly right, Cornelius. I should have thought about that more carefully! Certainly there are different bylines attached to the posts. But you're right - there's no evidence beyond that to show that the blog has multiple authors.

I'm all for editing if it means correcting factual inaccuracies or sifting out irrelevant or unfruitful material. But if it means stifling a genuine voice in favor of a canned corporate monotone, count me out!

Thanks for those telling links, Cornelius. I am really disappointed in Wal-Mart - actually, I'm quite upset that Wal-Mart is essentially deceiving the visitors to some of its blogs. We'll delve more into this sort of thing as the series continues.

After a flurry of posts last October it got very quiet and seemed to stop in January. It has just restarted in Feb. The last post is a traumatic account of an employee whose daughter-in-law went into child birth and after some catastrophic problems lost the child in emergency surgery.

The previous blog is an employee who discovered his 6 year old had a tumour behind his eye. This story had a happier end as chemo and radiation treatment seems to be working.

This Walmart blog is genuine and deeply personal. With such powerful stories it is a shame readers cannot sympathize through comments.

Nice blog...Its amazing to know savings can be done on all brand apparels and off clearance items at WalMart stores.. At WalMart Coupons, sale items are of high quality and value. So, its great to shop by WalMart coupons......!!

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