Today we have the second installment in our Brand Focus series of blog posts. We will be examining the AT&T Facebook page to identify their strengths and weaknesses across four categories including Branding, Content, Engagement, and Advocacy. I will also be making suggestions as to how AT&T could improve upon their current approach to managing their Facebook community. Then, we'll pull lessons out of these insights that could be applied to any brand, so that you can use this information to improve your own Facebook page!Branding
- Strengths- When visiting the AT&T Facebook page, your attention is immediately drawn to the cover photo, where a number of hands are giving a thumbs up with the superimposed text "2 Million Thanks." It's great that AT&T is using this space to thank their fans for helping them reach 2 Million fans, and the use of the AT&T logo as the profile picture prevents any losses to the strength of their branding. AT&T also uses branded icons for their tabs, and each tab is structured well and branded too.
- Weaknesses- The "thumbs up" theme of AT&T's thank you message to their fans is a great concept. Thanking your fans for being your fans is something they will absolutely love. However, by featuring what, according the the description of the cover photo, is the thumbs of several AT&T employees, they make this victory more about AT&T than they do about AT&T's Facebook Community and the fans who built it. It's not as powerful a message as say, pointing out that this is a victory for everyone in their community, and then featuring the faces of some of their most active advocates, or even just random fans (with their permission, of course). A smaller, but still glaring issue is that while their tab icons are mostly branded, the style varies widely, so they don't really stand out. See Threadless for an example of a brand that has a consistent and visible theme in their icons, and are better for it.
- Strengths- We mentioned earlier that AT&T has went to the trouble of creating some very nice branded tabs, so it's great to see that they are promoting those tabs with their posts. Timeline for Brands has largely killed tab views, so these very nice tabs would likely go unseen if they are not actively shared with fans through posts. AT&T also seems to recognize the viral power that brand relevant funny photos have. AT&T also does a great job of mixing brand messages with relevant conversational posts (especially with their Facebook Questions).
- Weaknesses- For a page their size, there are a lot of posts from AT&T that don't perform that well, even posts that have a topic that would certainly interest anyone who was a customer. After seeing the success of the picture they shared (above) you would think they would have realized the importance of visual content in Timeline, and how crucial visual content can be for getting your post seen. Yet, photos are used sparingly, even in places where the right photo could really create a powerful message.
- Strengths- AT&T's page health ratio (talking about/total fans) is 1.8%. A Facebook page is considered healthy when it scores between 1% - 5%. AT&T may be missing out on some engagement on their posts from time to time (for various reasons), but they are at least maintaining a healthy Facebook community. AT&T is great about responding to support issues on their Facebook page.
Image Credit: facebook.com/ATT
- Weaknesses- While AT&T does a great job of fielding support issues on their page, they don't really break into truly being social. There is no conversation with their fans, only support responses. Thus, AT&T has made their Facebook community just another customer support venue, missing out on the true potential of their conversational content posts, and one of the key advantages of social media. Even if you ARE listening to your customers, if you only respond to them when there is a problem, they don't KNOW you're really listening. While AT&T tries to include a conversational approach in support issues such as "I definitely understand the frustration this has caused you and your family. I'd be upset as well." A glance over several of the posts responded to show that this is actually just part of a copy and pasted support template. It's fine to use templates if you're sharing something like a set of instructions that need to be followed to fix a common issue, but you should not make conversational comments claiming to identify with an upset customer's plight part of a standard support template. Seeing this same response verbatim to multiple posts makes you wonder if anyone is even reading them before responding with this template, and you end up with a message that comes off as very insincere.
- Strengths- AT&T has a strong group of advocates who refer to themselves as the "Wolfpack." According to a member of this group of fans, they began simply as members of the AT&T Facebook page that wanted to help out. Eventually AT&T recognized their efforts, rewarding them with traffic to their page and even asking them to review products! The Wolfpack is home to many very knowledgeable and helpful AT&T advocates, and they have a significant following on their own Facebook page, where AT&T customers return time and time again to ask their advice, a clear indication of their expertise.
- Weaknesses- The biggest weakness for the AT&T Wolfpack is that their existence is not very apparent to a casual observer. Though AT&T has reached out to the Wolfpack and maintains a connection with them, none of this is really clear without doing a great deal of poking around the AT&T and Wolfpack Facebook pages, and eventually just asking the Wolfpack about their relationship with AT&T. AT&T has a great advocacy program that adds a lot of real value to their Facebook Community, and it is likely their social team's best kept secret.
I've looked at several Telecommunication Facebook pages, and a common theme is very upset customers who come not for assistance, but to vent their anger at a large corporate conglomerate where no one seems to have a satisfying answer to their most common problems. Our client's communities that I frequently interact with are for the most part very positive, and I truly enjoy the discussions that I have with the members of these online communities. I imagine that it must be very difficult to work with a community that has so much negativity. In AT&T's case, I believe that a more holistic approach to social throughout the organization would benefit them greatly. If rather than reactively responding to customer complaints and attempting to take support issues offline, AT&T instead used the great wealth of feedback from their social channels to understand what the most common pain points were for their customers, and made efforts to resolve these issues, they could differentiate themselves from their competitors by using social media to create solutions to problems, rather than using it only to respond to them.
Key takeaways that apply to any brand:
- It's very important to thank you community for any achievements they help your brand reach. Just be sure that you keep the message focused on them and all they've done to help you succeed. Don't just make it a win for your brand, make it a win for your Facebook fans as well. They will love you for it.
- When posting content, be sure to use best practices. You're leaving an opportunity to have your message amplified by your fans and some great conversations on the table when you don't create content that will be seen, talked about, and shared.
- You can't fake sincerity. If you want to humanize your social team (and you should, they're just a talking company logo as far as anyone else can tell) then you don't want to make it a part of a support template. Put in the effort to have real conversations, our clients are constantly complimented for this, trust me, people notice. :)
- Advocacy is important. If you have a great group of fans who contribute more to the community than anyone else, help out their fellow community members, and enjoy being involved with your brand, don't hide them away! Put the spotlight on them and celebrate their achievements in full view of your fans. Not only will they appreciate this and be more likely to continue their efforts, but you may find there are plenty more "diamonds in the rough" in your community that would like to get involved.