February 5, 2013, 12:17 PM

Wal-Mart adds nearly 2.2 million Facebook fans in Q4

At the end of 2012, the retailer had 26.26 million Likes of its page.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. said in the fourth quarter that it was focusing its Facebook efforts on attracting new followers to its Facebook page and using its interactions with those fans to generate sales. The efforts—at least from the perspective of attracting new followers—seem to have paid off.

The retail chain added 2.18 million followers in the fourth quarter, bringing its total number of Likes, as of Dec. 31, to nearly 26.26 million, according to the ChannelAdvisor Facebook Commerce Index. That makes Wal-Mart both the retailer with the most Likes and most new Likes in the quarter. The index from the e-commerce services provider tracks how many consumers have clicked that they Like any of more than 500 brands on Facebook.

Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide, focused heavily on Facebook advertising and it launched a massive mobile Facebook ad campaign on Thanksgiving Day and the two days afterwards.

The retailer also found that consumers responded to interactive posts, such as “You decide the next Rollback,” referring to a price cut. For instance, a Dec. 6 post that encouraged consumers to say whether they preferred the retailer cut the price on a Lego set or a Bratzillaz doll attracted more than 16,000 Likes and nearly 5,000 comments. Those actions are valuable because Wal-Mart then can reach those consumers through their Facebook news feeds, a central feature of the social network, and the consumer’s friends. Facebook shares a consumer’s interactions with a brand with his connections in his friends’ news feeds. The news feed display updates from friends and from companies that consumers are fans of.

Trailing Wal-Mart’s net gain was Amazon.com Inc., which added 1.52 million followers in December; Adidas Americas Inc., which grew its fan base by 1.46 million; and Macy’s Inc., which added 1.39 million Likes.

Macy’s growth stemmed from its charitable efforts, which it promoted in posts on Facebook, says ChannelAdvisor. For instance, for every letter to Santa the retailer received, it pledged to donate $1 to the Make-A-Wish foundation.

Here are the 10 most Liked retail brands on Facebook, with their ranking in the Top 500 Guide for those in the Top 500, their number of Likes as of Dec. 31, and the quarter-over-quarter percentage increase:

  • Wal-Mart, No. 4, 26.26 million, 9%
  • Target, No. 23, 21.45 million, 7%
  • Victoria’s Secret, No. 19, 20.95 million, 4%
  • Adidas, No. 212, 18.14 million, 9%
  • Levi Strauss & Co., No. 365, 16.51 million, 8%
  • Amazon.com, No. 1, 15.33 million, 11%
  • Burberry Ltd., No. 388, 14.72 million, 4%
  • Victoria’s Secret Pink, No. 19, 12.5 million, 1%
  • Nike Inc., No. 72, 11.73 million, 7%
  • World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., No. 492, 10.97 million, 5%

Here are the fastest-growing brands, in terms of net gain, in the index, with their ranking in the Top 500 Guide for those in the Top 500, their number of Likes as of Dec. 31, and number of Likes added during the quarter:

  • Wal-Mart, No. 4, 17.2 million, 2.18 million
  • Amazon.com, No. 1, 15.33 million, 1.52 million
  • Adidas, No. 212, 18.14 million, 1.46 million
  • Macy’s, No. 14, 10.08 million, 1.39 million
  • Target, No. 23, 21.45 million, 1.34 million
  • Levi Strauss & Co., No. 365, 16.51 million, 1.20 million
  • Lego, No. 132, 3.46 million, 1.20 million
  • Old Navy, No. , 6.36 million, 902,255
  • Guess, No. 22, 4.07 million, 888,069
  • Victoria’s Secret, No. 19, 20.95 million, 872,203

Here are the fastest-growing brands in the index in terms of percentage gain, with their ranking in the Top 500 Guide for those in the Top 500, their number of Likes as of Dec. 31, and their percentage gain:

• AJ Madison, No. 170, 30,895, 146%

• Hickory Farms, No. 235, 60,249, 139%
• Sheplers, No. 308, 269,000, 108%
• The Swiss Colony, No. 104, 43,455, 89%
• Rugs Direct, No. 396, 4,745, 76%
• Calendars.com, No. 426, 22,395, 76%
• GiftTree, No. 446, 6,695, 70%
• Jos. A. Bank, No. 207, 87,415, 60%
• FragranceNet.com, No. 140, 283,646, 59%
• Build.com, No. 81, 1.22 million, 57%

By building up their fan bases and regularly interacting with their fans, many retailers are using Facebook as a marketing channel that, among other things, can drive traffic to their sites. That’s why the Social Media 300, a comprehensive analysis of e-retailers’ social commerce strategies, based its rankings of retailers’ social skills on the percentage of web site traffic that merchants receive from social networks. For many in the guide, social networks are providing a large chunk of their sites' traffic. For instance, the guide's top 50 sites in terms of referral traffic from Facebook derive an average of 9.3% of their overall site traffic from the social network.

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