Social Media Smarts: Interview with Frank Eliason of Comcast aka @ComcastCares
Photo by Shel Israel
Twitter has become many things to many people and organizations for that matter, including Comcast. It really says something when a company experiences the bite of consumer malcontent via social media and then turns around and becomes known as a best practitioner. This is the experience of Comcast and Director of Digital Care, Frank Eliason.
Based in Philadelphia, PA, Frank started with Comcast as a Customer Service Manager in September, 2007 and as you’ll read in the interview below has evolved into the social media face of Comcast through his Twitter name ComcastCares.
Even though we typically focus on marketing and public relations subject matter on Online Marketing Blog, there is no doubt of the effect of good customer service facilitated by technology like social media. In this interview, Frank describes his involvement with social media as a customer engagement tool for Comcast, offers insights into justifying and measuring social media efforts as well his take on Twitter. Enjoy!
Can you describe how got involved in your current position with Comcast?
I am still trying to figure out how we got to the point, it has been an interesting year. I started with Comcast is September, 2007 managing a small Customer Service team. Within my first week we reached out to a few Customers via phone after they posted to a blog. We continued doing this until December. In December we started posting to the websites to help out. By February I was asked to take on a new role. My title evolved to Director of Digital Care.
What part does social media play in your overall responsibilities and how do you define social media to others?
My role, and the role of my team is to assist Customers throughout the internet, so I would say social media plays a very large role. I define social media as any place on the web where someone is talking. This means blogs Facebook, Twitter or other microblogs, but it also means YouTube, forums, or even personal websites.
There’s a lot to be said for how companies like Comcast have put their “listening hats” on with social media, especially after certain videos get popular on YouTube. For companies just looking into social media as a listenting/communications channel, what arguments or business case justifications have you found to be the most effective for investing time, people and other resources into social media engagement?
I think listening is imperative for all companies. I am sure many of the readers Google their name once in a while. Shouldn’t companies do the same? Listening is relatively easy and inexpensive. Just simply do a Google search. Or to be more timely, try a Google blogsearch. Many large companies have been doing this for years. After listening comes engagement, and this is where there is a little bit larger cost. I am asked about this and it really to me comes down to what is the cost for not being there. People will be talking about your brand, isn’t it great to be able to respond right back. The key to doing this is not being ‘PR’ or marketing but rather a real person that someone can relate to. That is why I believe Customer Service is the best fit.
As far as deciding what social media channels to engage in, what’s your decision making process when it comes to testing and implementing specific tactics?
Two key factors: Searchability and Timeliness. We can not continually look at the same website to see if anything is being said, so we use a variety of search techniques. This brings me to the second key factor. Searching but not getting the results for days or weeks after something is posted is not going to be effective. So we use methods that are immediate. One of the reasons we like Twitter is the real time search at search.twitter. Google blog search also allows you to sort blogs by 1 hour, 12 hours, 1 day, 1 week or 1 month.
How do you measure the success of your social media efforts? What goals and metrics make the most impact upstream (C-level) in your organization?
I think success is 2 fold. I think you can measure the feedback that you obtain and the benefits this provides an organization. You can also measure the positive feedback that is on the web.
Do you outsource any social media work and if so, do you have tips for other large company social media marketers for finding and managing consultants?
Like many organizations we do work with Nielsen Online (formerly Buzzmetrics) to collect feedback from the web.
Can you share your experience with a specific social media tool like Twitter or blogging? What were your goals, strategy and tactics? Can you share success metrics?
The biggest benefit to Twitter is if someone is answering the question here is what I am doing now,” you are getting immediate data on how someone is using your product or interacting with your organization. The goals are simple for everything we do. Offer assistance and gather feedback. The strategy we take is to be ourselves and offer to help. Not much different than what should happen in a Customer Service call.
Please share 3-4 resources you use for staying on top of social media marketing trends and tactics:
I actually am not a marketer, I do pay attention to groups like WOMMA, but I would not say I am an expert in this area. Tactics we learn as we go. Some of the best resources are the people we help and some of the organizations in this space. People are always open to talk.
Thank you Frank!
What questions do you have for Frank? I can’t promise he’ll answer them, but if he’s monitoring the social web he’ll certainly notice.
You can find Frank online at:
What was the biggest obstacle you had to overcome in terms of social media?
Comcast is the worst example of social marketing, their customer service is beyond horrible. Their TV ads are a joke (they brag they have more “choices” in HD then Directv and Dish) which 80% of their “choices” are crap. Their brand is dying, they need to quickly hire Reis & Reis.
Interesting and useful article. And thanks for the tip on Search Twitter.
Dan Briffa says
You have some really good content here, i will link you back to my blog at http://www.danbriffa.com so my readers can come see what you have going on!
Thanks, keep up the great work!
I spoke with Frank a year ago after posting an awful experience I had with comcast. I can’t tell you how impressed I was that he A. found the post B. followed and C. was a really nice guy. The problem though, no fault of Frank’s whatsoever, was that nothing was done about the situation. A