We’re suckers for rooting for the little guy, even if, in this case, the little guy is a ubiquitous chain David taking on an even more suffocatingly ubiquitous Goliath. Local, mostly beloved, sometimes begrudged, 40-year-old drug store Duane Reade overtook Walmart in the number of Twitter followers on Monday, 321,009 to 312,026. What does this mean!?! Probably nothing much, other than it’s a nice stick in the eye to the hyperglobalmega retailer, which still continues to be thwarted in its efforts to get a gun-peddling toe in any of the five boroughs. The company can take some pride in this, as Walmart has thousands of stores nation-wide, while Duane Reade has fewer than 300 stores in just the NYC area. But the news also gives us a lesson for companies that we can call How Not to Suck At Social Media.
OK, yes, Duane Reade is now owned by the significantly less friendly, Illinois-based Walgreens company. But the DR stores in the city have made this big effort to get “cooler” over the past few years, adding stuff like fresh-ish food, a better layout and even a growler station to try to win over their Bedford Ave. haters. And it does still carry the name of the streets its original Tribeca location was located between.
Meanwhile, Walgreens has remained a terrible descent into madness and horror where no one knows how to work a cash register (sort it out, you two!). To wit, Walgreens has barely a third of Duane Reade’s followers, even though it has many more stores nationwide.
What lessons can we learn from this? For one, let’s just come out and say it: Duane Reade shoppers are like a billion times more likely to be on Twitter than your average Walmart shopper. That’s not a value judgement, it’s just fact. Second, DR uses its account with savvy by posting links to local events, pictures and stories, instead of just tweeting the latest deals on frozen boneless wings or whatever. So that kind of thing makes it feel more like it’s part of the community, instead of the corporate droning of Walmart which demands you “Retweet if you’re a Twilight fan.”
“We are extremely proud of our latest social milestone in regards to the growth and engagement of Duane Reade’s active Twitter community,” DR spokesman Calvin Peters tells us.
It’s easy to hate on WalFart, but in the time since we last took the piss out of them, the company revealed that it instead of just being cartoonishly evil, it may be in fact Actually Evil. So for good measure: fuck you with a bargain bin of Tyler Perry movies, Walmart.
Follow Tim, who used to hang out at the 24 hour Walmart in New Jersey as a bored teenager: @timdonnelly.
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