Telstra's social media school

While most businesses are not able to afford a 60-person social media team like Telstra, the legal and financial cost of not watching social networks in some capacity is too great to ignore.


Telstra chief executive David Thodey said yesterday the telecommunications giant operates a 60-person social media monitoring team, fuelling discussion about how businesses monitor their own social media presence.

It’s been well-known for a while now that Telstra maintains a healthy social media presence, responding to customers on Twitter, Facebook, or on websites such as the Whirlpool forums.

Although 60 people may seem like a lot, Telstra’s a big company, and has a lot of people talking about it on a variety of platforms – it’s a lot of content to sort through and respond to.

"We ourselves have about 60 people who monitor every social media site... and you can imagine what is said about Telstra," Thodey said yesterday at an event in Queensland.

You may not have 60 people – you may not have one full-time social media manager – but here are a few places you can start looking if you ever decide to put someone on the task.


Keeping an eye on Facebook isn’t what it used to be. With businesses now operating some pretty massive pages, moderating thousands of comments can be a tricky business.

The problem is that comments on the internet tend to diverge into personal attacks. Once that happens, commenters can potentially make racist or threatening remarks. You don’t want those on one of your fan pages.

Letting comments go unnoticed is a recipe for a lawsuit if things go bad. Even if you don’t have thousands of comments, just one is enough to spark some legal trouble.


Twitter is an obvious choice for controlling your social media presence, but it’s one that many businesses often neglect. Performing a search for the word "Telstra” on Twitter reveals multiple responses per second – imagine having to respond to all the negative comments or product questions.

If you’re a small business, monitoring Twitter is probably the first thing you should be doing. It’s easy to do, and there’s really no excuse for letting a mention of your company go by without some sort of response, whether it be positive or negative.


Industry-based blogs can be powerful things. With just a few sentences your company can be trashed and its reputation ruined. This is just another part of the social media landscape you need to keep on top of, and thankfully, it’s pretty easy to do.

Telstra social media staff have been known to comment on blogs from time to time. Not only does it give the impression the company reads everything and is up-to-date, it also makes the blogger feel appreciated the company took the time to respond.

Do a quick search through Google to find any mentions of your company on some blogs. You may be surprised at what you find.

Discussion forums

The Whirlpool Forums are one of the best places to go for discussions on technology and internet issues. One of the main reasons for the forums’ popularity is because all the ISPs and telcos have representatives on them ready to answer queries as soon as they pop up.

If you’re operating in any sort of major industry, then there’s likely to be consumer forums based around your product or service. If you get in those discussion forums and make sure you identify yourself as being from a particular company, you’re more likely to get a good reputation if you handle yourself well. You’re also likely to get some great word-of-mouth.

Your own website

This seems like an obvious one, but it’s amazing how many businesses set up a website and then don’t go back to check what people have said on the comments section. Telstra has set up its own forums where people can go and make requests about products or services – and it requires a lot of maintenance.

This is essentially the same as the Whirlpool structure, except it’s on Telstra’s own website, so the service is expected to be even higher. Monitoring these topics can be a pain-staking process, and engineers need to be sure they’re giving updates whenever possible if a major problem is occurring.

If you have the ability for users to comment on your own website, then keep track of it. You don’t need to lose a customer due to bad communication.

This article first appeared on SmartCompany on April 17, 2012. Republished with permission.

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