In Part 1 of this series we examined how cognizant Australian companies are of the opportunities that social networks provide to engage with customers and prospects in new and more intimate ways. We also examined how those who are cognizant are utilising those opportunities, based on their social presence.

Part 1 referenced the NCP model – Network, Contribution, Participation – and how companies and brands cannot create engagement if they do not have a Network of critical mass, and further; if they do not use that Network to create value and influence.

Methodology – presence on key networks is a proxy

We also indicated that, as crude a measure as it might be, the presence of Australian companies on the key networks may be a ‘proxy’ measure for how engaged the Executive of that company is in the social channels or how much they believe that becoming a social business is key to the future success of their organisation.

Part 2 – Twitter and Facebook presence

In building the Australian Social Busines Index we started with the websites of the Top 10 Australian companies. We examined how well social networks /channels were integrated into their primary web presence (not very!) and we looked at whether or not they or their employees were participating in LinkedIn.  We found that most of the Top 10 are - to some extent - but few are using the entire capability of LinkedIn to represent their organisation. At that point of our analysis, it seemed to us, that amongst the Top 10 Telstra was probably the organisation with the best connected network and the company making the broadest use of social media and networks.

In this second post in the series we look at their Twitter and Facebook presence and summarise the overall social presence of the Top 10 Australian companies.

Twitter usage disappointing

To us, the overall usage of Twitter by the Top 10 Australian companies is somewhat disappointing (table below).

Two of them have no Twitter presence at all, and a third – Woolworths – has a plan to activate their account but appears to be uncertain on how to proceed. Amongst the four banks, ANZ Bank seems a long way behind the other three in followers but all of them have relatively few followers compared to their customer base:

Company # of Twitter Accounts Main Twitter Handle # of Followers Klout Score Comments
BHP Billiton 0  - 0  0 There is a careers handle with 489 followers
Woolworths 1 @woolworths 929  0 Hi everyone, we’re new to social media and hoping to be set up on twitter soon. We won’t officially be here just yet but follow us on fb and stay tuned
Wesfarmers 0  - 0  0  
Rio Tinto 3 @riotinto 6774  44 Quite a few legacy accounts in other countries
Commonwealth Bank 2 @netbank 7271  51  
Westpac Bank 6 @westpac 8222  48 There a lot of legacy twitter accounts and some branches appear to have their own
National Australia Bank 1 @NAB 7903  54 UBank has 4769 followers
ANZ Banking Group 2 @ANZ_AU 1352  42 Separate Media Account
Telstra 2 @telstra 22618  66 Separate News Account and Big Pond Account (which is being phased out)
Xstrata Holdings 1 @xstratatech 355 17  

This leads to a point worth making about social strategy versus tactics – it’s a strategically challenging balancing act for organisations such as the banks and Telstra because their Twitter accounts are usually full of customer issues and complaints and are very tactical. It also explains why the Twitter accounts are, by and large, very reactive and they almost never retweet other content. However, it does appear that they are trying to provide an additional channel for customer service interaction and doing a pretty good job of it during working hours. It also has to be said that whilst we all love to criticize Telstra for its service levels they are taking responsibility and you can see the positive impact and difference the new management team is making in terms of dealing with the customer perceptions.

The main point is, that if a company is going to have a presence on Twitter, then it’s imperative that they respond to customer service issues effectively and have an operational plan of how that will work, and escalate – both in normal times and in times of crisis. No response makes a company look even worse than not having a presence. A recent study in the US claimed that 70% of respondents did not have their service issues raised on Twitter responded to – what’s your experience?

Social Architecture is often immature but evolving

We also noticed that a number of the Australian Top 10 are consolidating Twitter handles into one primary account after perhaps earlier, non-strategic rushes into presence development. Reviewing social architecture should be an ongoing process in all large corporations. Large enterprises all have all made significant investment in people and tools and services to support their IT “enterprise architectures”. This is because an effective IT enterprise architecture produces an improved ROI, lower total lifecycle costs, supports change and flexibility and agility, and is able to be effectively governed with respect to records management, discovery and archiving etc etc.

An effective social architecture has the same types of objectives. For example the major disruptive trends of our time are cloud computing, mobile and social. Utilising all of these, in the most appropriate way, requires coordination across all three. In other words, independently optimising mobile as a channel , may adversely effect optimising cloud or social. Or, not optimising the social architecture in conjunction with cloud and mobile will result in difficulties in not only governance but also in innovation, continuous improvement, support, and governance. This is a complex cross-organisational dimension which is poorly understood.

Business value of Twitter easily underestimated

Finally, its pretty clear the large miners do not see much of a role for Twitter in their communications strategy (except perhaps for recruiting) but it is intriguing to see that Rio Tinto at least has a presence and followers, while BHP Billiton – it’s arch rival – has zero presence. We’d say “obviously” that is a chosen option by BHP Billiton, although it may be by default rather than a chosen option, and certainly Rio Tinto made a different choice.

It is perhaps still the case that corporates have not fully appreciated the role that Twitter might play for them in enabling some of their business objectives i.e. they still see it as somewhat trivial. We know that Dell gets continually referred to as the poster-child of great business Twitter use, but it’s hard to go past them because they continue to excel at exploiting the business value of twitter, here for example taking advantage of the latest Twitter enhancements for brands.

Facebook Presence – NAB outstanding

When it comes to Facebook, it seems to us that NAB are the clear ‘winners’ in this group. Not only do they have an NAB landing page, but on that landing page they tell you what are the ‘benefits’ of Liking – the additional content and offers you will get access to. They also provide linkage to their other social network presence in Twitter and YouTube.

Company # of Facebook Pages Landing Page? # of Fans Activity Levels Comments
BHP Billiton 1  No 4475  Low Closed Wall – no dialogue
Woolworths 1  Yes 33583  High Landing page for iPod competition
Wesfarmers 1 No 290  Low  No Wall
Rio Tinto 1 No 1182  Low Closed wall – no dialogue.
Commonwealth Bank 1 No 85021  High Time Vault, Kaching and Hottest Deals driving activity
Westpac Bank 1 No 1166  Low  No reason to participate
National Australia Bank 1 Yes 9671  High Good linkage, good landing page
ANZ Banking Group 1 No 3810  Low Closed Wall
Telstra 1 Yes 35011  High Focus on Service
Xstrata Holdings 1 No 212  Low A lot of scattered presence

Commonwealth Bank on Facebook are a standout in terms of the number of fans. They started this process with a Facebook “check in” competition but the fan base continues to grow with a number of innovative tabs and competitions. All they need is a landing page.

It strikes us that having a Facebook presence with no ‘Wall’ is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike – it really sends a message that you really don’t wish to communicate. What also struck us though was how many people still liked these pages – even with no reason to have a dialogue?

Telstra also deserves recognition for a Facebook Landing page with a focus on service even though it deflects people to other channels. What really hit us as an interesting contrast is when researching Woolworths we came across the Woolworths SA page – and in contrast to Australia, there are 139,228 fans on a very vibrant Facebook community compared to 33,583 in Australia with a focus on specials and an ipad competition. Definitely some lessons there. And we do wish organisations would get past iPad competitions. During the time of writing this post, Woolworths changed the Facebook page to include a new promotion and a more festive season theme.

Overall a tepid interest in social business and social channels

To summarise, judging by the analysis of the ten largest companies in Australia, we conclude that commitment and usage of the social channels is ‘tepid’ at best. There are clear opportunities for most of them to make significant improvements in their presence and grow their networks, in turn making them a more social business and offering further opportunities to engage current and prospective customers in a more effective dialogue.

We wonder whether the C-level executive in many of these companies believes in the ability of social to transform their organisations?

To be fair, some are trying. Telstra is certainly making a concerted effort and amongst the banks the Commonwealth stands out for its openess and connectivity although it’s competitor NAB seems to be doing a good job with Facebook. As for the miners  …..well, they don’t seem at all social.

Social enterprise requires leadership

We considered researching the social presence of the CEOs of these companies but we found so little that it got depressing - not many Richard Bransons in this country. Perhaps our executives are at about the state of US CEOs surveyed in 2009 by Harvard Business Review: 30 Key Findings on How The CEO Engages With Social Media.

It does also seem to us that the B2B organisations like the miners – with very large long term contracts, don’t feel the same imperative  to use social media for engagement. HOWEVER, in the business of the future the issue is not for them about sales but about how to attract and sustain more than their fair share of the best people, especially their leaders of the future, and those people utilise social media everyday. And, at a time when those types of organisations are in the traditional news everyday in association with carbon tax, climate change, coal seam gas – it seems like they are generally missing a great opportunity to communicate directly.

What do you think?

And do you think this analysis provides an insight?

Do you thing we should extend it to the Top 20 and beyond?

Please comment below.

Australian Social Business Index – Part 1