Comcast–A Dichotomy of Good and Bad Social Media Usage

frankAnybody 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.

Comcast1Apparently, 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 Comcast2for 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.

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3 Responses to Comcast–A Dichotomy of Good and Bad Social Media Usage

  1. ComcastCares says:

    Actually we do all of the above. We have our own help forums, we participate in forums across the internet, reach out on blogs, as well as other social networking websites. If you also review Comcast Must Die is no longer active, and has not been in some time. I would expect this to change google results over time. My group does work specific on Customer related aspects, but marketing also has its own presence in various spaces. As an example check out http://www.comcasttown.com. Our PR team also does a lot of work within social media to discuss current topics important to our organization.

    I would be happy to discuss further.

    Frank Eliason
    @ComcastCares on Twitter
    frank_eliason@cable.comcast.com

  2. Frank is pretty quick and looks like he already jumped in here, but this is a good lesson when it comes to the power and immediacy of blogging. I like your choice to focus on good and bad within one company as a way of digging deeper into it and you do make some fair points Though Comcast may do much of what you are suggesting, it does seem those efforts could use more visibility if you didn’t notice them. You should post a response to this post to Frank as well, if you get a chance. (3)

  3. Paul Bove says:

    I am duly impressed with how quickly you responded to this post, Frank. While Comcast has delved into new forums and social media avenues like the ones you mention, the big issue still comes from search and perception from other users. I see though that the first page of Google results is better than in the past (i.e., Comcast Sucks isn’t on the first page anymore). Yet, if I’m a customer who is having trouble with Comcast internet, for example, there are 2 problems. 1) I can’t access any of the online resources because the Internet is down, and 2)Many of the social media tools are not linked to Comcast.com. That’s when people get frustrated. In fairness, I’m currently very bitter because my connection has been down since last night (6/22) and I’m finally back on line through a work around thanks to the customer service rep. If it wasn’t for his service, I wouldn’t be able to do my homework for this class right now 🙂 But now I have to leave work early Friday to wait for a tech. So it’s the good and bad all over again.
    Thanks for responding,
    Paul

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