The Social Media World Forum (SMWF) returned to New York City, and hosted a breakout session featuring mobile carrier AT&T's lead social media senior strategist discussing the company's online undertakings.

AT&T Lead Social Media Senior Strategist Erik Larson joined Southwest Airlines' Social Business Advisor Ashley Petit and Columbia Records' Strategic Marketing Vice President Elliot Lum in the "Social Media Listening: How to Gain Knowledge Not Just Data?" breakout session moderated by Synthesio's Global Marketing Vice President Leah Pope.

When asked about how each company manages and measures campaigns as well as respective challenges, Larson stated the telecommunications company doesn't do what most people would recognize as "campaigns."

"We're 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, people are writing us with complaints or issues or actionable items," said Larson.

AT&T's lead social media senior strategist did, however, acknowledge campaigns might exist when new devices are released to the market.

"We do have campaigns around device launches, so the iPhone 20 comes out and we may expect large amount of volume to increase," said Larson. "We're going to have people on their new device, setting up their emails, activating their phones. We see a large spike and what we want to do is we are always measuring for not just the individual items but systemic issues."

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Over the past couple of years, according to Larson, AT&T had identified 200 different issues within the corporation, not solely social media issues. The issues came to light due to having real time texting analytics, which allows people to go back and say "Hey you know what? People are going through the by-flow, and they're going through these specific steps." As a result, Larson noted AT&T change certain facets such as the AT&T website "on the fly... which is not always the easiest thing to do."

He added that an event such as a major device launch would require pulling analytics from every department and platform from AT&T in order to find "big systemic issues."

"AT&T has been doing social support for about six year now, and we've gone through multiple durations of what that model looks like, how that's grown," said Larson.

The telecom company, with over 1,000 retail stores across the country and 246,730 employees -- according to first quarter figures -- has been receiving tweets, both positive and negative about different stores, managers or different representatives on the floor.

"You can't always see that its a one on one interaction, you can't listen through the phone calls, so we get these verbatims, and it's very easy for us to send them to a manager of a store, and give them the examples of what they're doing right, what they're doing wrong, and how the customer has reacted," said Larson.

Larson stated the company has reached out to other platforms such as Yelp to receive and collect individual retail store feedback and "feed them into the stores." Larson noted that AT&T is "still working" on improving partnerships with websites such as Yelp.

AT&T is still working with its software and infrastructure teams when it comes to the mobile apps department. The mobile company has multiple apps available including the myAT&T app.

"Every time there's a release, we want to make sure that customers are still able to do a lot of things," said Larson, adding that the company monitors the Google Play and Apple iTunes app stores for customer feedback if the case arrives to supply a quick fix to a potential issue.

Larson said that AT&T relies on surveys for the mobile company to improve in "many areas" for "many results."


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