Inside Telus’s social media strategy

Caitlin Hall and Kathryn Percy make up Telus’s Vancouver social media team

For faceless telcos like Telus, social media allows for rare one-on-one connections

When Telus launched its “31-day sustainability challenge” on social media last January, it got a little help from its online friends. Followers were asked to participate in a green activity throughout the month and share their experience and tips on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Every day, the Telus social media team shared one tip, often provided by a follower like the one who suggested wearing eco-friendly clothing. They then used Hootsuite to track other people jumping in, liking her tip and offering their own tips.

Telus tries to integrate social media into everything from company initiatives (sustainability, health, charity, public appearances) to announcing and explaining its products and services. Explaining to customers why their bill is so high, why they can’t see American Super Bowl ads, why the Super Bowl couldn’t be seen at all when a cable theft knocked out service to customers in Surrey and other issues is also handled through social media. When phone service was knocked during the Alberta flood, Telus tweeted updates about affected areas and where to go for support.

As well as keeping an eye on what other companies do, and don’t do, well, Telus uses analytics to monitor its own engagement rate. Hootsuite, a social management tool, tracks who is communicating with Telus through its various accounts and platforms: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, the Telus blog and the Telus Neighbourhood community forum. It also records who has responded from Telus, especially as employees are not only based in various cities but often work outside the office. The social and media relations team has two members in Vancouver and two in Toronto; about 40 other people across the country support different Telus business units and initiatives through social media, including the nine-member social media operations team (@telussupport), who answer customer questions on everything from help with their cellphone to Optik TV.

Lithium, another social media management tool, flags any mention of Telus so Telus support can respond—for example, to someone who tweeted “no1at @TELUS seems 2know y my phone uses more data than all others, but they dont seem 2mind my phone bill equalling acar payment,” Telus support replied, “I hear your frustration. Can you please follow us so we can DM together?” (To direct message, both people have to follow each other; no wonder @telussupport has more than 35,000 followers and @telus more than double that.)

“Anything private goes in direct messages, but if we can respond to a client and help someone else out that sees the conversation, then we’ll do that,” says Telus senior communications manager Kathryn Percy. “Now everything is external, and we really try to keep it that way. People want that where everyone is a real person.”

Some Telus followers, like “(Miss) Edie the Pug” (@Edie thePug), contact the company just to chat—she was sent a Telus sweatshirt for her dog—or ask for specific team members like “Superfred” at Telus support in Quebec, who posts a Twitter message to let people know when he is online.

“It’s quite funny that you can create this online environment,” says Percy. “I think people like the idea of talking to this big brand, but it’s actually talking to a person.”

For more from The BCBusiness Guide to Social Media, go here >>