Anybody who works in or follows social media has likely heard the same names thrown around over and over again during discussions of companies or brands that use social media well, and who does not. Though perceptions vary, it’s generally agreed that Zappos, Southwest Airlines, Comcast, KEXP, Army, Air Force, and TSA use social media well. On the other hand, Pepco, Born Shoes, Comcast, Navy, and the Marines are not doing much in the social media realm. Wait. Did I just mention Comcast in both the good and bad columns? Yes, and here’s why.
Good: Comcast has gotten a lot of props over the past few years for the work of Frank Eliason, a Comcast customer service manager who is now the “Comcast Director of Digital Care.” Frank began keeping an eye on comments about Comcast on blogs and Twitter a few years ago and began following people in earnest using the @ComcastCares handle. Now, his name is spoken in reverent terms like “I think it’s safe to call Comcast’s Frank Eliason the most famous customer service manager in the U.S., possibly in the world.”
People with complaints have been able to get answers and customer support quickly thanks to Comcast’s attention on Twitter. And for a company that is consistently ranked low in reputation, helping people find value in Comcast could be a huge boon.
Bad: A company cannot rely solely on Twitter (or any one tool). OK, Comcast is using Twitter to improve customer service, and they’re helping people who are having technical issues. Great concept. BUT, where is Comcast when it comes to using social media to protect their online reputation? And where are they when it comes to trying to spread the word about their products? I did a lot of research about Comcast last November for a presentation. In researching the company, it was apparent that many people are pretty displeased about the service (or lack thereof) that they receive. (The pictures below show some of the search stats that came up when researching Comcast.) Hate groups on Facebook and MySpace are myriad. Numerous hate blogs exist as well. So far, it still appears that there is no official fan page or group on Facebook. One thing I did notice between November and now is that Comcast started a blog in March 2009.
Apparently, they are turning to new tools to talk to customers, but there is still much work to do. A search for “Comcast blog” on Google gives 5.9 million results. The official Comcast blog is #9 on the list. That is 8 below the number one result of “Comcast Must Die.”
Lessons Learned (Help for companies just starting in social media): Comcast is engaging in social media as a customer service tool, and that’s great, but they are missing out on using the other tools to communicate. I’m not advocating that a company or organization uses every social media app simply because it exists. That’s annoying and ineffective (remember the basics of communication strategy, like SWOT, audience research, goal/objectives, etc. ).
But using other tools will allow a company to reach a diverse audience and really explain in different ways what products and services they can offer. Additionally, online conversation (through blogging, discussion forums, and news monitoring) could allow Comcast (or any other company) to 1) extend its reach beyond Twitter and respond to blog complaints to set the record straight, 2) Address specific concerns, 3) Proactively announce new intiatives, 4) Understand customer problems and provide solutions.
A little strategy goes a long way in creating an effective social media campaign.