Vodafone eyes greater use of social media
Vodafone is to step up its use of social media as a brand building tool after handing its new social media chief an expanded brief to develop the use of the channel beyond its current customer service remit.
The mobile operator has confirmed the appointment of Oracle’s communications director Samuel Hall as head of social media, taking over from Jakub Hrabovsky following his departure in September last year. Hall will be reporting to Vodafone’s director of communications, Christian Cull.
A Vodafone spokesman confirmed Hall’s role will include developing the brand’s communications strategy across all social media channels including: influencer identification, engagement and advocacy as well as a customer service remit.
Hall’s appointment marks an evolution of Vodafone’s social media communications strategy and marks a key step in how the mobile operator employs social media as an integrated communications tool according to sources within the company.
Vodafone has won plaudits for its use of Twitter as a customer service product with analytics firm Social Bakers claiming the mobile operator had the highest response rate to customer service queries via the social network in Q4, 2012.
Speaking at the time, a separate Vodafone spokesmen explained its success can be tracked back to its strategy to primarily use Twitter as a customer service rather than marketing medium.
The move from Vodafone follows rival operator brand O2 who appointed Paul Fabretti as head of social media in November last year in wake of the departure of its first head of social Alex Pearmain. Both companies are poised launch major marketing campaigns on the UK public this year to encourage sign-ups to their 4G network services, due to roll out in the summer.
With all forms of digital media blurring, the role of the ‘traditional PR’ is rapidly changing especially as the digital disciplines of social media become increasingly intertwined with search.
Many brands are consolidating their social media activity bringing it in-house in order to maintain a consistent voice - saving on the monthly retainer is also another likely motivation - and the ‘traditional PR’ is a natural candidate to take over these roles when used in a customer service capacity. After all, fielding queries is pretty much their day-to-day job anyway.
However, what’s significant is how Vodafone’s appointment will expand its head of social role and integrate it into its communcations strategy - similar to how it employs other media including print and TV - and in a year when both Vodafone and O2 prepare to launch 4G services, getting this right will be crucial.