Wal-Mart’s Blogging Buyers

Corporate blogging is not a new addition to the online world. Companies of all sizes are using blogs to communicate with clients and customers. Even Wal-Mart, with more than 5,000 stores, 1.2 million workers and annual sales of $400 billion, recently started Checkoutblog.com.

Wal-Mart’s new blog however doesn’t follow the typical blogging repertoire that other major companies follow; in fact the company has completely gone to the other side of the spectrum in terms of traditional corporate blogging.

Instead of choosing Wal-Mart execs to create the blog posts, the company decided to leave the blog writing to Wal-Mart’s in-store product buyers. The result: an extremely personal view into their lives and product preferences, as well as rants and raves regarding games, electronics, gadgets and more.

Wal-Mart, which has been known to have very strict company policies, is now encouraging its blogging buyers to speak freely about the products that they carry.

And speak freely they have. Topics ranging from critical reviews of games and negative critiques on new computer systems, to favorite Bible verses and a wife’s love of laptops.

A Wal-Mart employee in charge of buying computers from Microsoft had this to say about Microsoft’s newest operating system, Vista:

“Is it really all that and a bag of chips? My life has not changed dramatically — well, for that matter, it hasn’t changed at all.”

During a positive review of Apple TV, a Sam’s Club buyer referred to one of the recent Star Wars films as a “debacle.”

Wal-Mart carries both the Vista system as well as the “Star Wars” movie, and Microsoft is one of Wal-Mart’s biggest suppliers. Wal-Mart is hoping that these real reviews of products, coupled with personal insights, will provide buyers with honest feedback from actual consumers, who happen to work for Wal-Mart.

I don’t know about you, but when something gets a bad review, I am not more enticed to go out and buy it!

Wal-Mart is attempting to bounce back from its earlier attempts at blogging, which the blogosphere denounced as a disguise for the company’s PR department. Wal-Mart learned right then that it needed to be authentic online at all times.

And that is just what it seems Wal-Mart is trying to do now. However, it doesn’t come without consequences. As a buyer and shopper at Wal-Mart, I find it hard to believe that such a mega giant would allow its employees bashing the products it sells in order to achieve authenticity in a blog.

Honest reviews about the products they sell are obviously a good thing, and fake reviews only accenting the positives would not be authentic, but how is that going to drive consumers to the store to buy that product if its own employees are giving it a bad review? Is authenticity enough?