During March Madness, Verizon conducted real-time social listening to identify its competitors’ dissatisfied customers and promote itself as a better alternative.
At a time when more and more mobile phone networks were competing for customers on price and value, quality seemed to be a less effective differentiator. As a price leader, Verizon Wireless needed to demonstrate its value as the premium carrier that Nielsen had named the best network for streaming in 2018. The brand wanted to tout this distinction in a contextually relevant way that could reach prospective customers as competitors struggled to deliver a service that matched Verizon’s quality.
As the most streamed sporting event in America, March Madness attracted over 300,000 mobile viewers to each game and provided an opportunity for just such a victory lap on the part of Verizon. This college basketball tournament puts an enormous strain on wireless networks, causing interruptions during the games and sending fans straight to Twitter to complain. Verizon capitalized on its competitors’ service failures by delivering timely game recaps to frustrated viewers as soon as they tweeted such a grievance.
During the games, Verizon employed Sprinklr, a platform that provides real-time access to social media conversations, and searched for combinations of keywords relating to its competitors, streaming problems, and sports terms. It simultaneously tracked the status of games. Tweets about service failures received replies that included a quirky recap that highlighted what the viewer had missed up to that point, including scores, major plays, and a general assessment of how the teams were performing.
For the biggest games of the tournament, Verizon enlisted Hall-of-Fame basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to respond on its behalf, taking advantage of his enduring popularity and his millions of followers.
In its first two days alone, the effort produced over 11,000 impressions, and without any paid media. The share rate was 150 percent above the average for similar social campaigns, while the engagement rate was 15 percent higher than average. Fans also responded positively to Verizon’s recaps, with likes and retweets shared at a rate 25 percent higher than all other Verizon social content from the previous year. And many replied directly to Verizon’s influencer Abdul-Jabbar, thanking him for providing assistance. Such audience response also produced customer leads for Verizon’s telesales team, which reached out directly to those whom Verizon engaged with, offering promotional offers to switch to Verizon Wireless service.