India's Mobile Networks Beat US Counterparts in Facebook/Twitter Use
Operating on razor-thin margins in cut-throat environments, telecom brands around the world are looking to social media in order to win the hearts and minds of their young customers. This is a take no prisoners battle and the Indian telecom brands have emerged as global pioneers when it comes to engaging their respective communities. Simply put, Indian telecom brands are showing the world how social media is done.
In the first report of its type, Unmetric, a social media benchmarking company, released a study comparing six Indian and US telecom brands on Facebook and Twitter today. The study looks beyond mere fans and followers and instead details the social media efforts of the top wireless carriers in India and the United States to better understand the interaction between the brands and customers. Unmetric identifies which companies are doing the best job at gaining new fans, keeping them updated with engaging content, carrying on conversations and providing effective customer support via social media.
Underlying the report is the Unmetric Score, a sector-based measurement scored between 0 and 100. A score is generated for the brands' Facebook, Twitter and YouTube presence and factors in multiple quantitative and qualitative metrics.
According to the Unmetric Score, Tata Docomo is the leader in the telecom sector on Facebook. Tata Docomo scored 77 in the month of August and has consistently topped the rankings since records began in June 2011. Idea was the second best performing telecom brand in the world on Facebook with a score of 58. Aircel, India's 7th largest carrier, was the third best performing brand in India with a score of 53. In the US, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile scored 55, 54 and 51 respectively for their Facebook performance in August 2012.
A key part of the success of Indian telecom brands on Facebook comes down to the way they are engaging their community. On average, nearly 4% of the fans of Indian brands are engaging in some way with the page whereas only 3% of fans engage with the US brands. This can also be seen in the Unmetric Engagement Score, where each post by an Indian telecom company scored an average of 99 compared to the US telecom companies which scored an average Engagement Score of 66 for each post.
As the most engaging telecom brand in the world, analysis of Tata Docomo's content strategy revealed that their "Win a HTC Desire VC" contest generated huge amounts of engagement. Airtel focused on their current Friendship campaign with most of their posts revolving in some way around this theme. However, when brands stop talking about themselves they saw the best levels of engagement. Aircel saw higher than normal levels of engagement when they posted about sports and Indian festivals like Onam and Janmashtami.
Analysis of the US telecom brands revealed that 90% of the time, they talked about themselves and the telecom sector in general. Leading fan engagement was T-Mobile USA which posted the release of their unlimited nationwide 4G plan and got fans very excited. AT&T preferred to focus on talking about mobile apps and phones. Verizon was running a cover photo contest to win an Android tablet, but wasn't able to match the levels of engagement seen by the Indian brands when the latter ran a contest.
Over on Twitter, the Indian telecom brands proved to be remarkably adept at leveraging the platform as a customer support channel. Airtel has followed the lead of US telecom brands and created a separate account to handle customer support issues, known as @airtel_presence. All other brands use their main account to handle customer support.
In August 2012, Indian telecom brands replied to over 9,100 tweets compared to US brands which replied to just over 2,000 tweets. Airtel is the leading telecom brand on Twitter, replying to over 5,130 tweets in an average of 58 minutes per tweet. Vodafone India also uses its Twitter account for customer service, replying to nearly 3,000 tweets but takes over 11 hours to reply to tweets. Sprint, the number three telecom brand in the US replied to tweets marginally quicker, in an average of 57 minutes but only replied a total of 1,006 times.
When a brand did respond to a tweet, Indian telecom brands apologised 5.6% of the time compared to US telecom brands which apologised 6.2% of the time. In a possible nod to the thriving BPO industry in India, the Indian telecom brands asked customers to call a number 14.3% of the time compared to US carriers which only asked customers to call a number 2.4% of the time. US carriers preferred to send customers to a website link.
Innovations by Indian telecom brands on Twitter include Idea's use of token numbers to log and track support issues. Each tweet is assigned a unique ID and the customer is requested to Direct Message (DM) the account admin for further resolution. Tata Docomo use a similar system where customers are referred to a live chat facility on their website where the issue is tracked.