Can hitting the restart button on Twitter change the conversation surrounding a brand? During our analysis of the leading brands in the telecom industry, we found that AT&T did just that. We wanted to understand whether or not consumer sentiment towards AT&T shifted because of the strategy change, so we analyzed the messages on social media coming from AT&T’s customer support accounts, and also from consumers, before and after these changes were made by the brand.
In mid-October 2014, AT&T began to phase out its customer support Twitter handle, @ATTcustomercares, in order to begin using its new customer support handle, @ATTcares. In our analysis, we saw that the transition was quick and the effects were near-instant. What we noticed immediately, was a significant increase in the post volume coming from the new Twitter account, so we decided to dig deeper to find out the cause of this change in volume.
We were able to segment the conversation coming from AT&T into five categories: ads and marketing, interceptions/invitations (attempts to get users to switch over from their current carrier), Tweets thanking customers, Tweets apologizing to customers, and general customer support. The switch came with a complete revamp of the company’s strategy: over this time period, AT&T drastically increased the amount of interceptions and advertising and marketing messages that it was sending out, and decreased the amount of apologies and general support that it offered on this account.
The shift in messaging caused a 32% decrease in the volume of apologies to customers, a 24% increase in interceptions/invitations, and a 17% increase in advertising and marketing messaging. This suggests that the company’s social strategy for this account transitioned from focusing on retaining current customers to attracting new ones, which we believe to be a response to competitive pricing and benefits introduced by competing providers. The change in messaging has led to nearly 60% of AT&T’s current messaging focusing on attracting new customers to the brand.
What was the effect of this change in AT&T’s communications strategy on the conversation directed at them?
Looking at the conversation coming from consumers and directed at AT&T over the same year analyzed, we found that there was also a dramatic change in consumer conversation as a consequence of AT&T’s shift in strategy. Conversation became much less opinionated (45% decrease in negative conversation) and much more general (42% increase in neutral conversation). This change can be explained by AT&T’s shift in messaging, which increased the amount of interceptions and marketing messages. Consumer response to these messages tended to be much more neutral in nature, with general questions or declining the offers making up the largest amount of neutral conversation. Overall, AT&T’s social media strategy transition transformed both the conversation that they were creating and the conversation that they were receiving.
These findings highlight the power that a shift in messaging on social media can have on consumer sentiment. For this reason, it is important for brands to have access to a social media listening tool. By listening to what consumers are saying on social media, companies are able to understand the consequences of strategy changes, as well as other important facts, such as where they stand competitively or what their strengths and weaknesses are. To find out how the other leading US telecom brands stack up against AT&T, download our report on the telecom industry.