Frank Eliason, the man behind the ballyhooed Twitter account @comcastcares, announced his resignation from giant cable and internet provider Comcast this afternoon. Companies interested in social media, and that's just about all companies these days, have watched @comcastcares very closely.

Eliason was named Senior Director in National Customer Operations at Comcast just one year ago and has only been at Comcast at all for less than 3 years. Stardom can be built up fast in the young world of social media, however, and as a widely studied ground-breaker Eliason could likely now get a job at almost any company in the world. A specific but unnamed opportunity to do social media work in the financial services industry, where Eliason has worked for years before, is next on his agenda, according to his blog post on the Comcast site.

While "the man behind the curtain" has been a dominant metaphor for magic for many years, Eliason was instead the man in front of the curtain at Comcast. Working behind him were a team of people with personas like @ComcastBill and @ComcastBonnie. There was also a substantial amount of new social media tracking technology powering the ostensibly personalized customer care the company grew famous for.

If you tweet about problems with Comcast, someone responds. Quickly. And they stick with you. It's not just because you're special though, or even just because they are. The Comcast customer service team uses the latest and greatest social media CRM (customer relationship management) software, behind the scenes.

We described that technology in detail in April 2009, (This Machine Eats Tweets: The System Behind @Comcast and Others) at a time when the field of social media CRM was less widely adopted and discussed.

Eliason and his team built an incredible amount of goodwill and industry admiration through their customer service work on Twitter. @ComcastCares will long be a case study taught in schools. Comcast hasn't traditionally been a much-loved company and Eliason really made an impact on the public's perception. (Was his resignation motivated by having been one-upped by the Old Spice guy this week and needing to do something new to regain his crown? Imagine if that were the case!)

Can Eliason do something as marvelous in financial services? That's no small challenge, and his next gig won't be the first of its kind in the same way. It will, however, be interesting to watch.

Starting today, you can follow Frank Eliason on his new Twitter account, @FrankEliason.