Tag Archives: community management

How AT&T Could Have Used Social Media During Crisis

AT&T U-verse outage demonstrates lack of social media marketing and public relationsThis week AT&T had a massive outage of its U-verse network that offers voice, digital cable and high speed Internet to consumers and businesses. This most recent fiasco has further tarnished the AT&T brand that it appears the company has either given up on PR and customer service or does not have a strong and savvy management team in place to deal with the challenges of being a major communications company.

In the most recent chapter of the ongoing AT&T saga, a total lack of understanding of the ability to communicate to customers, media and the public was evident. With social media there is a clear channel beyond calling customer service to easily facilitate broadcast messages to an engaged audience.

I was actually affected by the outage and followed AT&T’s actions and lack off during the most crucial times. Customers began experiencing service disruptions on Monday. My service died sometime Monday night after I went to bed. Noticing the error we contacted the company on Monday and were informed that there was a widespread outage for Uverse and that North Carolina was not being affected according to the representative.

My wife then went to Twitter and saw that other customers in NC were affected. I immediately looked at the Twitter chatter and noticed that despite a flood of customers asking for information the company just issued a standard, we’re having problems tweet. If you look at the stream below captured on Jan 24, 2013 AT&T U-verse social media and PR team did not utilize Twitter as frequently or early on during the crisis.

AT&T U-verse Twitter stream during network outage was poor to weak at best
AT&T U-verse Twitter stream during network outage was poor to weak at best.
AT&T’s communication and reaction on Facebook was just as poor.  For the whole first day of the outage the company only had a simple post about MLK holiday.  All day Tuesday as customers were asking what was happening the company did not up a single post.  Then on Wednesday 2 posts. One that said the problem was related to hardware issues, the next saying that it was software issue.  To add insult to injury they tried to downplay the size of the problem stating that the outage was only affecting 1% of customers.  This clearly did not seem to be the problem as outages were reporting across several states.

AT&T U-verse Facebook Page was poorly utilized during crisis. What little information shared appeared inaccurate and unclear to customers.
AT&T U-verse Facebook Page was poorly utilized during crisis. What little information shared appeared inaccurate and unclear to customers.
By Wednesday evening several customers were asking AT&T why there were not communicating using social media and other digital communication channels like email and text to keep customers informed.  Between the trickle of information on social media and what appeared to be radio silence on text and email AT&T just feed the customer frustration fire that gets flamed with viral reposts, likes and sharing on social networks.  I think most customers including myself would understand that shit happens and sometimes, major network fails can occur.

Affected ATT U-Verse customers were pleading for information and receiving nothing substantial.
Affected ATT U-Verse customers were pleading for information and receiving nothing substantial.
What customers don’t want is to be ignored during a crisis.  They want transparency and clear communication as to what the status is and anticipated recovery time.  The majority of your customers will be satisfied with confident and timely communications.  What amazes me is that we are at a point in time where using social media and digital communication should be primary part of crisis communication plan.  You would think that someone at AT&T had to either be asleep at the wheel or choosing not to participate in the discussion.  Either way it’s another PR black eye for the communications company.

Beyond the Basics: Creating Your Online Community

In the second episode of Beyond the Basics, I met with Jason Peck (@jasonpeck) of eWayDirect. Jason is the Product Manager, Social Media for eWayDirect, a full service interactive marketing agency. One area I’ve seen Jason and eWayDirect really perform is in the area of creating online communities for their customers. Some of the key points I learned from Jason during our discussion:

  • Determine if an online community is best for your business. Research your customers and see if it’s applicable.
  • Have a plan in place before you start your online community. Don’t just get caught up in launch activities, know where you are going after Day 1.
  • Have a resource in place to own the community management function, otherwise it can fail.

I want to thank Jason for his time and great insight. Stay tuned for the next episode to air in early December.

New LinkedIn Groups Features Enhance Community Management

LinkedIn has rolled out several new features over the past few months to better help you manage your groups.  Previously groups were limited in terms of creating a place to store information that you always want available to members like rules for posting discussions.

LinkedIn Group Rules LinkThe new group features allow you to create a group rules page that informs your group members of specific rules for posting content in the group, how to join subgroups or any other process you want to communicate.  In the past I’ve had to use the Featured Discussion control but this kept those discussions at the top of the discussion board and became annoying.  Group rules allow you to put this content in a popup window that allows members to easily review the information.  The Group Rules link displays on every page on the top right-hand corner for easy access.  You can still select specific discussions to appear in the Manager’s Choice box that appears just underneath the Group Rules link.

LinkedIn Tools for managing discussions

Another new feature that allows for better community management is the ability to flag discussions.  Many times you may have members promoting events or promotions that you want available to the group but don’t necessarily want displayed on the landing page.  Too many promotions may deter people from joining the group.  Now you can flag specific discussions as promotions and they will appear on the new promotions page.  Other features include the ability to either delete the discussion or reply privately to the person who posted if you need to inform them of a rule infraction.

In the past I have deleted discussions when someone was pushing too many promotions in my group.  Now I have the ability to move it to a more proper space.  Deleting a discussion should be a last resort for someone that is abusing the group rules.  Usually what they have to say is important and relevant to members but this new feature keeps promotions from cluttering up the main page.

The only change I have not liked in the recent LinkedIn updates is that now the old news feature has been lumped into the discussions.  The news feature allowed you to link a RSS feed including Twitter streams into a separate news page.  Now these news items will appear in the discussions.  Depending on the Twitter stream you have linked it can be too many updates so be cautious in how you link RSS feeds into your group.