Earlier this month, all of us at ComBlu were all buzzing with excitement as we released our annual research report on the State of Online Branded Communities. Currently in the fourth year, ComBlu’s annual study offers a view of how some of the biggest and most respected brands approach online community and integrate it within their overall social ecosystem.
This year, we looked at major brands across 15 industries and in the end, evaluated more than 200 distinct communities. My charge for this week was to look at the State of Community in Telecommunications—and I am pleased to report that this means I get to highlight the top performing industry in our study this year!
In fact, the Telecomm industry—which shared the top spot with the Gaming industry in 2011—was the first industry to average over 50 points across the board (previous high was 45). This placed all four (evaluated) Telecomm brands on the Top Performer list, and Verizon was the top scoring brand in the study overall—at 56.
The Telecomm industry clearly gets it! So, what does the industry and the various brands do differently that sets them apart? Here are some examples of what makes their communities shine:
· Best Practice Adoption Continues to Climb. Adoption rates of 30 of the 33 best practices either increased significantly or remained at 100 percent in 2012, while community management and content best practices both soared among Telecom brands.
· Reputation Management Grows. The Telecom industry has matured in its use of reputation management. All of the brands evaluated, except Sprint, disclose achievement markers or information on how to earn points and the point thresholds for various performance levels. In addition:
– Sprint, AT&T, Verizon’s Insider and Thinkfinity communities all clearly communicate how to become a community leader
– More specific rewards are highlighted across the board
– AT&T launched a new recognition program: the Award for Community Excellence to recognize members who made outstanding contributions in the previous 12 months
– Almost all of the communities used leaderboards, a strong best practice for support communities
– Many feature leaderboards for specific products and services
· Extended Customer Support. Facebook and Twitter remain escalation channels for customer support. Some brands do a better job than others in applying good governance in this area. For example:
– T-Mobile includes a support tab on its Facebook where company reps actively address broadly applicable issues on the page and direct people offline for issue resolution of private or account-specific points
– Sprint features a customer care tab on Facebook that is totally integrated with its support community
– AT&T and Verizon feature their Twitter feeds in their support communities and invite members to respond to tweets
– AT&T also actively uses Facebook for customer care issues