T-Mobile vs. AT&T: War for Wireless Consumers

Over a year ago, T-Mobile began a revolution to change the wireless industry for the betterment of the human race. In addition to earnings releases, the company periodically holds major press events to announce their latest “un-carrier” move(s) to improve the lives of wireless consumers. To this end they have no shortage of fresh material for conversations using social media. Many cases T-Mobile takes direct shots at AT&T.

Meanwhile, in a galaxy far, far away, AT&T has been playing defense. The company has been increasing its use of Twitter promote iconic device launches (e.g. Samsung Galaxy G5) and engage customers, when they aren’t taking credit for sponsoring events (this week it’s the Masters, last week it was March Madness). Interestingly, at the time of this submission the company’s Facebook page hadn’t had a post since April 7th. Employees respond quickly to customers however responses tend to be on the boilerplate-side.

The clear winner is T-Mobile. There’s tens of thousands of “breakup letters” now orbiting in the social universe that drive impressions and a testament to customer satisfaction. In addition, T-Mobile’s CEO John Legere has been using Twitter for about a year, working with @TMobile to own and answer questions quickly at all hours. John engages customers, the media, and shares what he’s doing (e.g. you might have heard he’s a big Macklemore fan). These two efforts coupled with countless others led to the company adding 4.4M customers in 2013. Something’s working, and despite my bias, it’s undisputable they have some good momentum building.

How many channels do they participate in?

Both companies participate in Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+, company blogs, press releases, conduct interviews with tech bloggers, etc.

How often they participate in these channels?

T-Mobile – Answers questions 24/7. Twitter is the main channel of communication. Facebook named Top 5 Socially Devoted Facebook Brand by SocialBackers for Feb 2014 (AT&T not on list).

AT&T – Answers questions 24/7. Twitter multiple times a day, but Facebook every couple days.

How engaged are their communities?

T-Mobile –

  • Facebook = 5.0M likes, 15k active conversations
  • Twitter = 82.2k tweets, 314k followers
  • YouTube = 31.1k subscribers
  • Instagram = 222 posts, 23.3k followers, 79 following
  • LinkedIn = 111.1k followers
  • Google+ = 72.2k followers, 14.8M views
  • JohnLegere (T-Mobile’s CEO) = 4.8k tweets, 131k followers

AT&T –

  • Facebook = 5.6M likes,  21k active conversations
  • Twitter = 35.4k tweets, 449k followers
  • YouTube = 37.0k subscribers
  • Instagram = 587 posts, 12.9k followers, 162 following
  • LinkedIn = 328.3k followers
  • Google+ = 33.3k followers, 6.6M views

Do they have a social culture or is it simply a marketing exercise?

T-Mobile appears genuine in how they leverage social media. It seems like their un-carrier movement is not only inspiring customers to become sales associates, but the company’s employees to innovate on behalf of customers in every area of the business. This has led to inventive ways to drive network effects via social media. AT&T is getting better at using Twitter, but overall the company’s tone lacks excitement and authenticity.

*Disclosure – I am an employee of T-Mobile so #YMMV

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