Wal-Mart has already had trouble building its own social-networking site , The Hub. Now it has inadvertently made itself the subject of debate with a sponsored page on Facebook. My colleague, Pallavi Gogoi, sends along this:
Last week, Wal-Mart launched the ??oommate Style Match?group on Facebook, the social-networking site with millions of high school and college-age users. The group will allow college students to design their rooms and links to Wal-Marts online site. A click on electronics brings up options for computers, MP3s and digital cameras. So far the group has attracted 312 members, though the marketing effort looks like it might backfire since its already attracted several anti-Wal-Mart comments. One user Brent Cox from Jackson (Ms) urges folks to shop local and and fight the corporate monster. “I’ve seen Wal-Mart destroy many good independent businesses,” says Cox in a post.
And here’s another comment on the page, from a Facebook user named Whit Ashley:
do people realize WHY prices are so low at Wal-Mart? cause THEY DO NO PAY LIVING WAGES to employees in America and THEIR CHINESE FACTORIES ARE BASICALLY SLAVERY.
WAL-MART IS HATEFUL AND IS A BLIGHT ON AMERICA.
Facebook should CUT ALL ITS TIES to Wal-Mart. GET WALMART OFF FACEBOOK!
Yeesh. Anybody want to talk lamps and futons?
I actually think it’s a good call on Wal-Mart’s part not to censor the page or take it down. This discussion is inevitable. And looking at the feed of comments now, it has actually spurred a pretty healthy bull session on Wal-Mart’s role in the U.S., with several students coming out in favor of the retailing giant. I think it’s smart PR for Wal-Mart to host this discussion, even it was totally inadvertent.