Last week, as many of you will know, the main dude behind the Telecom NZ Twitter account finished up. Richard had been at the helm for a few years and although supported by the famous ORT (Online Response Team), he was the guy you’d most likely be tweeting and Facebooking if you were talking to Telecom on social media. On his last day, the Twitter community got together to have a farewell tweet with him – not something I’ve seen before on Twitter. Except maybe when Paul Brislen left Vodafone – but really, who can remember that far back?

There was a great sense of camaraderie and Richard received an endless stream of tweets and lols to fill in his last few hours in the role.

Here’s a few of them:

There was recognition from other social media managers, mega trolls and just normal trolls who have all gotten to know Richard from his helpful customer service, witty jokes and patient explanations of how to reset your wifi. But what now? It’s quite challenging for a brand to replace someone who is so well known within the community and who had developed a relationship with those tricky individuals over time.

It will also be interesting to see whether the community adjusts and if the interactions change. When you know the guy on the Twitter phone, you are less likely to bug him at 9pm on a Saturday night to ask some random question about APN settings, because you know you are probably intruding on his weekend. But if it is a Twitter account that you haven’t interacted with before or you don’t know the people or the resourcing model behind it, then you will probably tweet away without a second thought. Well that’s what I do anyway – would be interested if anyone else does this too?

No-one is irreplaceable of course, and the new team seem to have settled in well.

But it’s something for large brand accounts to ponder on if there is just one highly visible person answering that Twitter phone and what the succession plan is when they move on. It’s one thing to be able to use Facebook and Twitter, it’s completely another thing to know who needs fast attention, who is just joking around with you, or being able to judge if there is some impending thunderstorm gathering on the horizon. Tricky indeed.

Lastly, I thought this tweet from Cate Owen summed things up perfectly:

PS : If you think you are the next Richard Irvine, you can see the role advertised here.

PPS: Richard made me add that in 😉


Join the conversation! 7 Comments

  1. Richard did a great job at Telecom, I reckon he set’s the bar for corporate engagement in any technology or service company. The best thing, in my opinion, is you knew for sure there was a real human at the other end.

    That’s not to say other social media managers are inhumane, but they are often far more anonymous.

    • I think you have hit the nail on the head Bill. While other accounts (obviously) have humans at the end of them, it is entirely possible you don’t really get to know them or who they are (could be a variety of reasons for that). But once you know who you are tweeting, it can change your perceptions and interactions.

  2. Whilst we love Richard dearly and he was our Captain for a long time, we were all ORT prior to his position being created and that might help us deal with the loss, at least partially.
    I think it will also be easier for us as we have had a team in place for quite some time instead of it resting on just one set of shoulders. In spite of that, we miss him already!

  3. I remember when Brislen was behind the Vodafone account and he was replaced by someone for the purposes of running a promotion on Twitter. the whole personality of the account changed and everyone noticed. They all demanded the return of Paul Brislen.

    However, I think Twitter’s come a long way since then and people have more of an expectation that there’s more than one person behind large corporate Twitter accounts. Because of that, it a change in personnel isn’t quite as dramatic as it used to be. Plus we’re in the Social Medi industry ourselves and are familiar with Richard – there’s a reasonable chance that a lot of people that contact the Telecom Twitter account don’t know who he is.

    Either way, good on ya Richard. All the best for wherever life takes you next.

  4. Damn…came late to the news and missed the fair well.

    Big gratz to Richard (with the massive support of a great team in ORT) to to taking on that role and making it work in a challenging environment. Good luck to him for the future.

    But I personally feel he model they have there will only continue to grow with a new person at the helm. Yeah, I’m biased, but still a great team and approach that continues to works.

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