Walmart and Social Media Risks

Hey all, last week I spoke about how Cadbury has created a successful marketing campaign through the use of social technologies. This week I thought we could look at the flip side: The legal implications and risks associated with such  social technologies and how Walmart mitigates these risks with the use of a social media policy. Again we will start with a brief background on Walmart as extracted from their Wikipedia Page. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores and warehouse stores. The company is the world’s third largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2012, the biggest private employer in the world with over two million employees, and is the largest retailer in the world.

Prankster Damages Walmart Goods
Before we look at Walmart’s social media policy, I thought it would be a great time to bring into context how social media had not only negatively affected the individuals in the following video but also Walmart’s image as a reputable company. The video depicts employees purposely throwing and damaging brand new iPads while in the Walmart stockroom. This video quickly leaked to YouTube and at last count was viewed by 560,893,242 users. While the employees might have thought of it as a joke both Walmart and the employees’ images were negatively impacted on with the assailants, in addition receiving immediate dismissal notices.

A spokeswoman for Walmart confirmed the incident and was quoted saying: “We’ve seen the video of several night-shift associates destroying merchandise in the back of one of our stores in August and, as anyone can imagine, it made us wince. We are also embarrassed,” 

Social media brings several benefits but in turn presents its own risks.  More prominent to Walmart are the Reputation and Statutory Risks as further emphasised in the above video. As I stated above the reputation of both the employees and Walmart was damaged. In addition to this the misleading and deceptive conduct combined with the act of defamation by the employees lead to Walmart having to take the brunt of the negative press involved.

Walmart’s Social Media Policy
Walmart does however have a social media policy currently in place. The following briefly summarises the policy employees must follow: basic rules (Ethics Policy, Information Policy and the Discrimination and Harassment Prevention Policy), be respectful, be honest and accurate, post only appropriate and respectful content, minimise use of social media at work, retaliation is prohibited and media contact is prohibited (without additional contact). Further to this policy, the National Labour Relations Board (USA) have commended Walmart on their Social Media Policy claiming it to be “the perfect social media policy”. In addition, if read in detail the policy clearly states how an employee must act in conjunction with social media and provides example cases to elaborate where required. This clear outline has in no doubt helped Walmart in its social media approach and strategy.

A Simple Conclusion
Even with this policy in place Walmart could continue to see further incidents arise with the use of social media tools. What the policy provides, however, is a deterrent and the legal grounds Walmart needs to deal with such matters.

With that comes the end of another post, we have looked briefly into Walmart, a damaging video and Walmart’s approach to risk mitigation through a social media policy.

Thanks for reading and feel free to comment.

Dillen

P.S Click on the Images and Video to go to the owners site’s

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15 thoughts on “Walmart and Social Media Risks

  1. Lise says:

    Hi Dillen
    Thanks for a nice read. I guess you can think what you want about Wallmart but I really don’t get why employees would act like that (also like in the Domino video we saw in class) – not only hurting their employer but also innocent customers. Furthermore doing it on camera also reveal a little bit about the IQ of these people. Well back to your blog  I like how you introduce the company, the case and ultimately sum up the company policies and make your own conclusion really gives it a nice personal touch.
    The fact that you choose a case that manages to affect me as your reader is also nice – hate a boring read. Maybe my case is not as “fun” you be the judge of that so hope you will stop by.
    Cheers Lise

    • Hi Lise,
      Thanks very much!
      First thing first….I cant find out how to comment on your blog haha.
      I agree with what you say it is shocking that people would act in this manner :(. I wouldn’t put it down to just their IQ though as I believe it to be a mix of varying factors.

      Please get back to me on how to comment on your blog.

      Thanks Again,
      Dillen

  2. The guys in the video is really bored, it is not fun to such a video…
    At first, many company will ignore something bad happen to them. But as more and more risks rise, more measures will be taken to settle them. In this case(internal risk), the policy is really useful.

  3. xavier1610 says:

    HI Dillen,

    Great post again, I think its important how you have highlighted how social media can become a negative tool towards organization without adequate control. You have provided a good example, however do you think there is anything else walmart can do to protect themselves better in the future?

    • Hi Xavier,
      Thanks for commenting.
      The one thing that comes to mind is having employees agree to a no mobile phone usage policy during working hours. This would ensure future situations of a similar nature would be avoided.

  4. colhili says:

    Hi Dillen,

    I actually had no idea Walmart had incident like this. I wonder though, what was the backlash from this video like? Walmart has had a bunch of weird stuff happen at their stores (not their fault) do you think that just losing access to their phone is enough?

    As a reference check this out http://listverse.com/2013/08/20/10-weird-things-that-have-happened-at-walmart/

    • Thanks for the comment,
      While Walmart had some reputation loss they dealt with the situation very well, issuing the following statement: “Since this unfortunate incident, we haven’t received any returns of this merchandise. We stand behind our merchandise, and our associates work very hard to take proper care and handling of the products we put on our shelves”.

      Honestly I think it will deter future employees from acting in the same manner and if they choose to ignore the policy Walmart would have the legal right to pursue further action.

      Wow those are some oddities, it was a great read thanks for the reference.

      Dillen

  5. Hoa says:

    Hey Dillen,

    Thanks for posting that video, I totally forgot about that when I watched it as soon as it was released (I forget when) and that really shows how much people that engage in social media can comment and criticize Walmart as a whole for just this incident that was leaked.

    Yes it shouldn’t have been released onto Youtube or any other video streaming site, but hey, its the internet, your demands will never be met. It just shows to you that no matter how powerful social media can be in your hands, it can also be harmful to you and there’s nothing you can do about it. Looking forward to the next blog!

    • Thanks Hoa,
      I agree with your statement, social media is really what you make of it and the same can be said for everyone else. However hopefully through the creation of social media policies we can reduce the harm presented.

  6. Hey Dillen,
    Your post is brilliant, I can see how much work you have done on the research, especially, the part of Walmart’s Social Media Policy, brief enough but perfectly shows me a successful example of social media policy. The video is convincing to me,compare to the policy you mentioned these staffs are not respectful at all, they were not only devastating Walmart, but challenging the Apple company. Also wondering, does the policy have any punishment to those staffs who don’t obey it?

    • Thanks Renjie,
      You bring up an interesting point that I hadn’t thought of earlier. Its also damaging Apples reputation. This is extracted straight from the policy: “Keep in mind that any of your conduct that adversely affects your job performance, the performance of fellow associates or otherwise adversely affects members, customers, suppliers, people who work on behalf of [Employer] or [Employer’s] legitimate business interests may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination.” As mentioned depending on the level of severity an employee could be at worst terminated on grounds of improper social media use.

  7. sul2009 says:

    HI Dillen,

    intelegent post again, I think its nessasry how you highlighted the social media which can become a negative tool towards organization without adequate control. and You have promoted us with a good examples, Good luck

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