SXSW: How the USPS Should Implement Social Media

The South by Southwest Festival (SXSW) starts a week from today in Austin, Texas. In addition to music and film, the festival offers a wide variety of “interactive events, and this year one of them will deal with the US Postal Service and its attitude towards social media. You may recall that last summer the USPS made a point of bashing the whole idea of social media (“it’s the cool new thing!”) in its “Deliver” magazine.

The presenters say

In this day and age, it’s difficult to imagine any organization, much less one with 596,000 employees and revenues of $68 billion, not having a social media strategy. Yet the United States Post Office does not have a social media strategy. There is no Facebook page, no Twitter account. It doesn’t engage with customers or listen and try to fix complaints. To inform people of the upcoming proposed postage increase, the USPS used only traditional media.

The USPS actually does have a Facebook page, with 10,669 followers as of this morning- coincidentally, the latest item posted there is about the Latin Music Legends First-Day of Issue Ceremony, which will take place at SXSW. The presenters are correct about Twitter though. While there are a couple of related twitter accounts- the Postal Inspection Service and the OIG are both active, the “usps” twitter account has never been used. Meanwhile, competitors like UPS and FedEx have active presences on Twitter, as do most major foreign posts, and postal related companies like Pitney Bowes and Stamps.com.

Here’s the full text of the event description:

If there is one organization that should embrace social media, it’s the United States Post Office. Instead, the USPS ignores social media, actively shunning it. In this session, the presenters looks at the USPS, offering suggestions how it, and other resistant organizations, can and should implement social media. In this day and age, it’s difficult to imagine any organization, much less one with 596,000 employees and revenues of $68 billion, not having a social media strategy. Yet the United States Post Office does not have a social media strategy. There is no Facebook page, no Twitter account. It doesn’t engage with customers or listen and try to fix complaints. To inform people of the upcoming proposed postage increase, the USPS used only traditional media. Creating buy-in for social media can be a difficult task. Like the Post Office, your company might be resistant to change or not see the value in social media. In this session the presenters will look at the USPS, examine why it may not be embracing social media, and outline a plan for the Post Office if it did want to start a social media program.

via How the USPS Should Implement Social Media.

  • kurt

    i don`t see the value of social media either, can someone enlighten me.hey, you want to complain, send them a letter, hahahaha

  • Lynn

    Twitter and Facebook Accounts are the “Dumbing Down Of America”. Social Media “This Too Shall Pass”. When was the last time someone read a book in this country? “Good” jobs are going overseas due to lack of education in this country. We are a third world country when it comes to education and until we re-invest we are going to see more jobs leave.

  • CK

    It’s rare to read an article where one feels less informed than they did prior to reading it, but this is one of them.

  • brian

    Yeah it’s like that foolish “world wide web” thing- remember that? Never caught on!

  • Amber Hutchins

    Thanks for mentioning our panel. When we organized this presentation nearly a year ago, the USPS had very little social media and it was difficult to find. They have since taken some steps into the social media conversation, but we’ve identified some ways to better utilize applications to meet organizational objectives. Social media is an opportunity to communicate with the public and improve customer service. It’s not a solution to all the challenges the USPS is currently facing, but it can help to open a dialogue with customers and employees.

  • Doug

    For all the advertising money the USPS spends trying to burnish it’s image, the lack of a social media strategy suggests it really doesn’t care about it’s customer base, only about the big mailers who clog our postboxes.

  • brian

    “it really doesn’t care about it’s customer base, only about the big mailers”? Ummm… the big mailers are our customer base. “Customers” are the people who pay you to perform a service. 90% of USPS revenue comes from big mailers.