AT&T: Rationalizing AT&T and DIRECTV social channel ecosystem — Live from the Brands-Only Summit

Coverage of this session by Cale Johnson of Connect with him by following him on Twitter.

3:50 —'s Kurt Vanderah introduces AT&T's Joy Hays and JD Link.

3:51 — Joy: Do or do not, there is no try, when it comes to a merger. The task was, reconcile two social ecosystems into one. There are two types of mergers: Just do it because you have to, or take the opportunity to look at where you want to be in 2020, and that's what we did.

3:52 — JD and her team did an audit of all corporate social accounts: After assessing the community size, we knew about 90% of our followers were in just 10 accounts. They also looked at what other brands were doing — what were other brands doing, and what looked right to us? Joy said that when they looked at the social media landscape, they looked at leaders of certain types of social structures: Brand only, brand lead, product lead, or scattered.

3:54 — Joy: When we looked at those ecosystems, and took the brand logos out of our view, then we evaluated the four types of strategies. They found they straddle both brand lead and product lead structures. After looking internally and externally, they wanted to compare where they were, and found our footprint was reflective of three years ago (we didn't have much on Instagram, for example).

3:57 — JD: We looked a little deeper and scored ourselves on each of the channels. We looked at how well it aligned with corporate priorities headed toward 2020, we looked at size of followers, and we looked at purpose.

3:58 — Joy: We all know social media is an art and science, but to take it to the executive team, we needed an actual number score to rank these accounts. JD: As you look internally, you'll probably have a completely different view and rate it differently.

3:59 — Joy: In 2015, we had more than 200 national channels and more than 3,000 local and regional channels across AT&T and DTV. Joy said they had a TON of stakeholder meetings on the topic of the channels.

4:01 — JD: This is an operational hurdle, for sure. We needed to make sure the challenges the stakeholders face can still be accomplished. We also need to realize that the channels are becoming more and more pay-to-play. The most difficult part was getting through to the stakeholder. Joy: But, the important part, is that it can be done and it was done.

4:02 — Joy: Use that dark time ahead of the merger when you're getting ahead of a merger to do this research. JD: The other challenge is governance — the discipline that gets you here, as well as get it done, make sure it's strong enough to keep it there. JD described their social media resource center that supports continuity, access and security, compliance, knowledge, and alignment.

4:04 — JD: At the end of the day, strategy informs governance, and governance informs strategy.

4:05 — Joy: I can tell you, it really helps to have a strong partner. JD: We had a 6-month framework that really helped us get through this endeavor.


Q: I'm curious about the pushback you may have gotten from countries, business units — how you dealt with that? And how they might have said, the “boss's boss's boss said we can't shut this down.”

A: Joy: We're fortunate in our COE model to have three different tiers, Director, Officer, and VP. When someone said their boss had an issue, we say ‘that's OK, someone on their tier will reach out to them.' We also had that quantitative score that could compare how the channel was doing compared to others. JD: We also showed them that we could help them get more visibility for their content by putting it on a main channel. We weren't shutting them down, we were helping them.

Q: As you were working toward the merge, what part did the public perception of each brand, and how they were already working with each brand on social, how did that go into strategy? And how did you deal with public perception during the merge?

A: Joy: So, there was an overlap period. During the merge, DTV still executed the campaigns as they existed. Then we used that time to train them on our processes and execution.

Q: How did you create the scorecard to give someone a level of measurement, and how was that news received by the team?

A: JD: From the creation, we have goals within our COE each year to work on several areas each year. That helped us with the framework, because people were aligned and bought in to those things. Joy: We really just wanted to make sure everybody knew the research, so every week we did updates — so when their was opposition, we could say we've been talking about it for three to four months.

Q: What are one or two things you might have done differently, now that you look back?

A: Joy: Honestly, I didn't do the budget numbers, and I probably would have done that. In a merger, budgets get swept left to right, so since we didn't call out the exact numbers we're looking for, it's kind of in a haze right now. JD: I agree. I think that's the one area we didn't look at, and it's the biggest opportunity.