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Target, a target on Facebook

November 8, 2009

Social media is scary for the obvious reason that it means giving up some control.

Take Target. On their Facebook page, they have half a million fans. That’s a pretty solid number of people who are “fans” of the brand.

But with the good, comes the bad. This is a screen shot of the Discussion page on Target’s Facebook page (see item #2).


The conversation inside of the second topic is about as clear as the title.

Target is left with the weird situation where people who identify as “fans”, clearly aren’t. And the people who aren’t appear to be the people who work there. People who are important to maintain the overall brand at target.

So what do we learn?

It’s not a bad idea to put together an employee posting guidelines document. It’s not an enforceable policy, it’s more a document designed to protect people from themselves.

It’s like a seatbelt law for social media.

There’s a really good chance that people who are posting on discussion boards about how much they hate working on Target haven’t put two and two together to come up with HR.

I know what you’re thinking: “Are people really that dumb?”

I think the answer is no, but they just might be that uniformed. A published guidelines for brands that engage in Facebook is another product we can offer clients. It’s not a policy. But it can protect a brand from itself.

We’re not promising that brands will be protected on Facebook from anything.

On the topic of large retailers, the Wal-Mart Facebook page has this comment on the top of the wall:

Julie Jones Hunt hum… interesting… why confront when you can delete!”

Presumably, Wal-Mart has been deleting her wall posts, instead of addressing them. Another issue that Facebook brings.

The final thought though is this: if people have complaints they will air them. Not having a Facebook page doesn’t mean a brand will be safe from people saying bad things (see SideWiki entries for

But having a Facebook page means inviting people to say them. Even the bad things can offer learning.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. November 9, 2009 4:59 pm

    Good point you make here Matt.

    That Facebook page, and the negative discussions happening there, should be an opportunity for Target instead of something scary.

    If they have the time to make a FB page and update it with information, then they should invest in hiring someone to monitor the conversation and deal with any issues.

    Like the angry employees. What a wonderful chance for Target to come in and say, “Sorry you are upset, let’s take this discussion offline and try to find a real-life solution!”

    Social Media is ONLY going to work for companies with the right culture. They have to be the sort of business that wants to improve, that will listen and react to criticism. Corporations with a history of ignoring customer or employee complaints will only suffer more by building a Facebook page.

  2. November 10, 2009 12:26 pm

    Thanks for your thoughts Analisa. I agree on the hiring of someone to take a look. But more so, I agree on the last part.

    But its not just social media. Did you look at the SideWiki comments on the Walmart page? SideWiki lets people interact with a site even if they don’t have a social site. More and more, the warts of a company are coming to light vie the web. And not just websites. Indeed, one argument for creating a Facebook is hearing about the issues. Target might actually have the page so the senior HR people can collect anecdotal evidence of what the people who work there think.

    With tools like SideWiki, brands can engage in the social web without creating a space in it. They can learn about their business from the people, and react accordingly.

  3. Tom permalink
    November 12, 2009 8:03 am

    What is a SideWiki?

  4. toddliss permalink
    December 18, 2009 5:49 pm

    This is what people need to understand about social media; when you ask for people to join a conversation, you hear the good AND the bad. A big chain like Target is going to have some disgruntled immature employees, it happens. How Target handles it will be the real test.

  5. December 22, 2009 12:51 pm

    Good point Todd. I take a look every once in a while. Maybe they are happy it is there instead of on an Ihatetarget blog.

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