Wal-mart wants to friend college students

Remember Wal-mart’s cool social networking site about this time last year, “The Hub”? Didn’t think so. You blinked, that’s why you missed it. This year, they’re not making that mistake, again. This year, they’re going Facebook by launching “The Roommate Style Match Group.” It has the memorable URL, http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2784351093. According to Reuters, “users who join the Wal-Mart group (2784351093) will be able to take a quiz to determine their decorating style and get a list of ‘recommended products’ they can buy at Wal-Mart to mesh their style with their roommate’s.”

No word on how long the Roomate Style Match Group will last. “The Hub” lasted 10 weeks before they shut down the empty hall.

Speaking of empty halls, the Wal-mart Roommate Style Match Group (2784351093) currently (10 p.m., EDT, 8/9) is busting out with a whopping 114 members. Sure, that’s before it got this great publicity on the rexblog, but I’m thinking, isn’t there more than 114 employees at their ad agency who could have seeded group 2784351093 so it wouldn’t look so lonely?

Dear agency, haven’t you ever heard of interns? You know, college interns? Interns with lots of Facebook friends who could join this group so it wouldn’t look so lonely? I hear August is a good time to get college interns to work for, say, $10 an hour. As a good college intern will have something like 500+ Facebook friends, who knows? For maybe like $1,000 you could have had a few hundred members of that group before announcing it.

I know, I know. That may have been an ethically dicey idea if word of it got out. But the way I see it, this would not be like hiring a professional photographer and reporter to pretend they are tourists crossing America and visiting Wal-marts. This would be like hiring real college students to help you figure out how to get other college students to join a Facebook group. I mean, is that a summer job, or what? Getting friends to join a Facebook group. They wouldn’t have to be anonymous or even pretend not to be interns. The interns would merely send a message to all their friends saying, “I’ve got this internship and it would really, really help me out if all of you would join the Roommate Style Match Group. Please, please do it for me. I know, I know. It’s Wal-mart. But you can un-join in a week or so after real people get on it.”

Who knows? Maybe a whole industry could spring up around paying people to spam their Facebook friends.

Speaking of members of the Wal-mart Roommate Style Match Group, I can already tell they are going to be a fun group. Already on the Group’s wall is this love-note to Wal-mart:

“I love wal-mart, thank you for helping the U.S. dollar remain strong! Small business was hurting our economy for too long! I only wish I could super-size the trade deficit along with my fries! No Job? De-valued dollar can’t cover my rising interest rates? At least I saved a nickel on a picture frame!!

That’s the kind of roommate I’d want if I was heading off to college this year.

And for the record, despite my snark, I think the Roommate Style Match Group is a creative idea and I actually do look forward to seeing if it works for them. And I don’t advocate using interns to get their friends to join a Facebook group — (unless the intern is your daughter).