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Jennifer Marks

Bottom-Up Blogging is Best

Money can't buy you love. And if there's one advantage Target has over its rivals, it's the love. Seems the glowing sentiment by consumers for the smartly marketed store extends into the burgeoning arena of new media, including blogs.

Exhibit A: the blog "Slave to Target" -- not a gripe blog for employees, but a fan blog started 18 months ago by a pair of women who are addicted to the store. Their creed: THIS BLOG IS NOT ASSOCIATED WITH TARGET CORP. WE LOVE TARGET. CAN'T GET ENOUGH OF IT. WANT TO MARRY IT.

Here's a recent post: "OMG so busy I can't stand it. I don't have time to blog these days about my Target love. Oddly enough I have time to shop at Target and drop mad cash once per week…"

Target junkies share pictures of stuff they just bought or links to stuff on they dream of buying or want to buy but can't find in their local store. "I desperately need to find two of the Tribeca chairs that just recently went on clearance. The Target in my hometown allegedly has two (the system-wide computer says they have 2 but the store claims they don't) but they weren't on display and the employees refused to check the back room for them…"

While that story is hardly a ringing endorsement for Target's inventory-tracking software or that particular store's employees, what's fascinating is the response it drew: "inside" information from other Target know-it-alls, including a former employee. "Clearance is clearance, baby. First there gets it ALL!" "Why not order online?" "Just to let you know, Target stores actually rarely have items that big in the back stock room. Most furniture items go directly to the floor as there is not enough space in the back."

Contrast that with Wal-Mart's recent ham-handed attempts to get something positive started in the blogosphere. A few weeks ago, a travel blog featuring a couple touring the country in their RV, spending the night in Wal-Mart parking lots and conducting video interviews with happy Wal-Mart workers, was revealed to be a put-up job by Wal-Mart's P.R. firm, Edelman.

Well, that news got a lot of people talking all right, but not quite in the way Edelman intended. (For the record, the P.R. firm took full responsibility for the blunder.)

Consider the episode a cautionary tale about pushing too hard, from the top-down, in the realm of the new media. You gotta let the love grow organically.

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