Social Media Lessons from America’s Biggest Company

Chad Mitchell, Senior Director of Digital Communications for Walmart, joins the Social Pros Podcast this week to discuss his social team’s changing structure, managing the reputation of a company that operates on so many levels, and staying authentic with a global brand.

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Full Episode Details

Opportunities to Engage

Like many of today’s social pros, Chad came to social media from a background in journalism. He also got his career started in politics in Washington. All along the way, he was using his love of writing.

Chad has seen communication evolve from handwritten letters, through mass fax and phone calls, to email, and now social media. “I don’t necessarily know that communication has changed that much, just the method that you use.”

So how do Chad and his team stay on top of all the levels of Walmart‘s communications?

Such a large company presents many opportunities for engagement – at the global, national, regional, and local levels – but those layers come along with many complications. How does Chad keep up with a new Walmart store opening in Oriental, North Carolina and at the same time manage the publicity surrounding the one-year anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Dhaka, Bangladesh?

Walmart #livebetter

via Walmart on Facebook

Chad’s three-person team manages the Walmart blog, its Google+ presence, its Pinterest page, and 7 Twitter handles. (The Marketing department manages the Facebook page.)

He has recently added more in-house teams to focus on specific areas, like a content team that helps create fresh content for each of Walmart’s channels. Adding these new team members is allowing him to participate across many channels without fragmenting his efforts.

One more level that complicates Chad’s team’s operations is the fact that Walmart operates under different names around the globe: Massmart in South Africa, Seiyu in Japan, and ASDA in Great Britain. This means that his listening tools have to be sophisticated enough to hit many moving targets.

A company like Walmart receives a huge volume of mentions on any given day, most of them mundane: “I’m going to Walmart with my grandmother” and the like. So while Chad’s team looks at volume, they also look at sentiment and, perhaps most important, velocity: Does everyone react to an announcement within 20 minutes, and then mentions die down? Or does this particular announcement have a longer tail?

“If somebody thinks that they’ve figured out measurement and has it sitting on a shelf somewhere and wants to sell it to me, they can give me a call,” Chad says. It’s an on-going process for him and his team to figure out exactly how to measure all of their social interactions. “To say that we figured it out would be inaccurate.”

Chad’s team incorporates the marketing and advertising interests of Walmart with its public relations and reputation management interests. Listen to the podcast for more details about how he juggles these different elements.

See you next week!

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