Web site’s viral explosion poses little threat to Wal-Mart

September 3, 2009
Image from PeopleofWalmart.com

Image from PeopleofWalmart.com

This morning I did a quick scan of TweetMeme (see article from yesterday – yes I am already getting addicted to their aggregated links) when I saw a post talking about a new Web site, started just last month, that essentially went viral overnight. The Web site was called PeopleofWalmart.com and allegedly consisted of pictures of some of the more outrageous shoppers found at Wal-Mart’s across the country.

As a person with a love/hate relationship with Wal-Mart, I was curious to see the photos the article was referencing. However, I was unable to get onto the site. I did a quick Google search and found it was in the top 10 trending topics on Google Trends (labs) and was the focus of many, many articles in the past few days including:

In fact, there had been so many other news articles, TV news features, and blogs that also picked up on the site that it has consistently been unable to support the traffic volume for the past few days. When I finally got to the site I discovered it features fuzzy cell-phone pictures of individuals that I would not be surprised to bump into at any time at my local Wal-Mart. Is it funny? Yes. Especially because I have no doubt that I could drive to my Wal-Mart right now and get a picture that would make it onto the site.

Does a site like this present a problem, or threat to Wal-Mart? Not really. People shop at Wal-Mart for the low prices, and accept the fact that creatures from all walks of life shop there (yes, there are goats in one of the pictures at Wal-Mart). It is just a fact shoppers accept, and part of what makes any trip to Wal-Mart what I call “the Wal-Mart experience.”

A site like this that rose to fame overnight will be a one-click wonder for most people, who won’t remember it, or revisit it within a week. To be sure, there will be some loyal followers. In fact, a visit to the @PeopleofWalmart Twitter site this morning and again this afternoon shows a huge explosion in the number of followers (sorry, I did not record followers this morning for an exact growth percentage), but again, currently numbering just above 10,000, this isn’t anything a giant like Wal-Mart will worry about.

If anything, Wal-Mart may appreciate the fact that people will now look forward to going to their local store just to see what kinds of crazy outfits or strange vehicles they may find in the parking lot!


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