In my previous post about the world’s largest brands and their social media presence, I noticed that while tech companies dominated the stats, FMCGs were still clinging on to a couple of top spots.
With this in mind I thought I’d take a closer look at how top FMCG retailers are fairing on the world’s largest social networks.
How the US’s top retailers compare on social
To keep things simple, I’ve used Stores.org’s list of top US retailers by revenue to draw up the list.
A couple of those listed are at a disadvantage, as they run various sub-businesses (Most notably Ahold USA), but in each case I’ve used their main brand accounts.
First of all, let’s take a look at the list by revenue:
No surprise to see Wal-Mart far out in front, with worldwide revenue of $467,896,000 in 2012, more than four times as much as nearest competitor CostCo ($97,062,000).
Some of this comes from regional brands such as ASDA, but Wal-Mart still managed to drum up a colossal $328,704,000 in the US alone.
With all those customers, it stands to reason that the company would perform well on social platforms:
Here at least, it seems as though sheer numbers do count; only the colossus that is McDonald’s comes close to Wal-Mart.
What is interesting is the crowded middle area. Amazon has a truly massive brand profile both online and off, but Target is giving it a run for its money in the fan-collection stakes.
Let’s zoom in a little on this list. Here’s a close up showing how Wal-Mart compare to Target:
However, just collecting fans isn’t important, engagement matters too. Let’s see how many of these brand’s fans are talking about them:
Wal-Mart gets LOADS of comments. What’s odd here is that the brand doesn’t seem to be doing anything to engage this very active community.
The page is littered with complaints, random musings (and some pretty mindblowing spelling), and while the brand does answer some of these, it seems it can’t keep up with the volume.
A change in content strategy to more effectively address complaints could pay big dividends here.
Things are quite different here, with Apple surging ahead, mainly thanks to its iTunes offering, and while Wal-Mart makes a strong showing, it’s easily eclipsed by Target, and Amazon. There are also stronger showings from (relatively) smaller brands like Macy’s and Best Buy.
Again, let’s look at the top brands more closely. Here’s an overview of the percentage of the tweets that are @replies:
And of the tweets they’ve sent containing URLs:
It’s interesting to see that while Walmart is engaging in a large amount of conversation, it’s also sending far more URL tweets than many competitors.
While on Twitter it doesn't have the size advantage, Walmart does seem to be sticking to what it knows best and making up for it through sheer volume.
This is a more interesting picture, and shows some of the disconnect that large retailers seem to be having with G+.
We’ve looked at McDonald’s approach to the platform before, but it’s interesting to see that Macy’s is well in front of its competitors, while Lowe’s has carved out a decent following. Focusing on DIY projects and decoration, it has a good mix of regular content on the page and makes good use of hashtags and formats like Vine to interest users:
Again, the visual focus and a targeted approach to content pays off for Lowes. This underlines an important point about choosing the right platforms for your brand.
Home Depot also make a strong showing here, and while Target and Macy’s have some success, they’ve done so by engaging with particular segments of their community:
Overall it seems that having a strong offline brand is enough to drive likes on Facebook and to an extent, Twitter, but newer platforms like G+ and Pinterest require a thoughtful approach to content strategy if you want them to pay off.
Meanwhile on Facebook, we're reminded that customers are the ones who define how your platforms are used, so businesses need to take a flexible approach and be prepared to provide resources for customer care if it's required on these channels.