Thanksgiving is tomorrow and that means one thing for retailers—the holiday shopping season is here. Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the shopping rush and stores have been busy promoting upcoming sales and social promotions. We’ve been following some of the top retailers to see how they will match up in social over the next few weeks—stay tuned for our social media reports which will be published after the credit card dust settles. In the meantime, we wanted to see which stores were getting the most traction before the sales so we decided to put retail giants Best Buy and Walmart head-to-head in this week’s Social Media Face Off.

In order to compare the brands in social media, we set up search streams for each brand in the uberVU platform. We’ve compared the results from the past two weeks to determine our winner.

Let’s find out which retailer is winning the holiday rush in social.

Round One: Mentions

Walmart easily wins round one with 686,387 mentions, topping Best Buy’s 194,480 mentions. That’s more than three times as many mentions!

As you can see from the line graph, Walmart hit a spike in mentions on November 19th. It wasn’t hard to find the cause. When news broke that an Ohio Walmart took up an employee-to-employee food charity collection, actor Ashton Kutcher attacked the retail store for not paying its employees enough to be above the poverty line, resulting in a full on Twitter debate with the retail chain.

Walmart wins round one for having the most mentions, but this bit of bad press proves not all mentions are positive mentions, which brings us to round two.

Walmart vs. Best Buy - mentions

Winner: Walmart

Round Two: Sentiment

It looks like the controversy over wages did show up in Walmart’s sentiment scores, with 19% of its mentions registering as negative. Best Buy also had a fairly high negativity score with 11%, but it bounced back with positivity, registering 27%, which beat out Walmart’s 23%.

Walmart vs. Best Buy-sentiment

Winner: Best Buy

Round Three: Conversation Mapping

Our conversation maps identify the most-talked about topics for a brand, company or specific keyword. They are a great tool for uncovering what social is buzzing about in relation to your brand. Unfortunately for Walmart, the wage controversy follows the retailer into round three and onto its conversation map—”workers” is the highest ranking word. The rest of the map doesn’t look much better as related words “employees”, “food drive”, “pay” and “wages” also appear. Another bad sign for Walmart? Target, a huge competitor, also appears.

Best Buy’s map is filled with its upcoming Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions with both shopping holidays, “deals”, “offers” and highlighted sale items like “PS4” all appearing on the conversation map. Best Buy has been busy promoting the upcoming weekend of sales and social is clearly excited.

walmart conversation map

Best Buy conversation map Winner: Best Buy

Overall Winner: Best Buy

The start of the holiday season is one of the worst times for a retailer to fall under scrutiny. It remains to be seen whether the wage controversy will hurt Walmart’s revenue this season, but it has certainly hurt its social numbers.

With wins in sentiment and conversation mapping, we declare the winner of this Social Media Face Off to be Best Buy. Go grab your spot in line now! And while you’re there, #VineInLine.

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