Social Media command centers look like a distinct reality within the Indian marketing framework which is currently benighted with short sighted approach. A social media command center can be imagined to be a closed room alive with social media listening executives intensively monitoring live streaming twitter walls and simultaneously studying the global heat maps displayed on enlarged screens. Or it could also be virtual.
In simple words, an enclosed unitor otherwise, within an establishment which seats the social media brand teams to track customer/fan conversations, comprehend brand perception across the globe, summarize these trends to build sustainable business insights and most importantly, to be seamlessly integrated across departments for quick decision making.
Who needs a Social Media Command Centre?
Brands, Tool companies and agencies can set up a command center for different purposes.
The answer is brands, which receive over thousands of mentions on daily or a monthly basis and want to commit to social listening need a command center.
It is also a physical representation of a company to showcase the importance of social media within the company and urge employees to take these platforms very seriously.
For tool companies this serves as an interesting way to gauge their own data and present a larger than life yet significant image of their tool to customers who are brands.
For agencies, this could be one of the most effective way of building day to day social media marketing tactics for a brand. Again, it impresses the brand with the way you are looking at social.
The Role of a Social Media Command Centre
A social media command centre cannot be solely limited to listening. It also needs to fulfil the purpose of co-ordination for an integrated business approach. The social media team should be able to co-ordinate with the customer service team in case of a complaint. Merely monitoring a complaint is not enough considering a lot of users in India are taking to social media for immediate resolutions. The social media command centre hence must flow across the public relations department, sales & marketing teamsand together the company should adopt a unified approach.
The command center especially helps when there is a crisis. Imagine a situation where a new product has been launched and a spur of negative comments on social media suddenly begin to go viral. Moments later, the social media team will be able to track this activity and route it to the PR personnel who will take take immediate steps to solve this. Measuring the scale of this problem and creating a report for future reference can thus easily be prepared.
Day to Day Socializing
The daily objectives of business such as product announcements, studying customer behavior, summarizing trends to offer long term insights, tracking the daily trending topics, creating brand reports and executing real time campaigns are a part of command centre’s day to day socializing activities. These activities when projected through a screen at the CEO and CMO’s office can help magnify the team’s work too.
Social Media cannot be related only to the social media team. The whole company gets affected and needs to participate to be closely connected to consumers. A user on Twitter could be interested in joining the company, complaining about a feature or simply enquire about service centres and even have questions on a new product. The PR, HR and Marketing subdivisions should be deeply involved within the social media world. This will enhance their productivity and lead the company towards being a social business.
Setting up a Command Center
There is an insane amount of technology that can be used to set up a command center. Large screens, LCD displays, touch screens, Twitter towers, heat maps can all be installed within a unit enclosed with glass doors. But is this really what a social media command center is? No.
A social media command center can sure be a reflection of the above since it is an extension of your company which itself boasts of glass doors and walls. However, the larger picture here is:
– What technology will be used to make possible the flow of conversation among departments?
– What technology will be used to track, monitor and listen to the customer?
– What sense will be made out of the data that is received and how will it be contextual?
– What business objectives are going to be fulfilled using this center?
– How will the customer resolution time be reduced and by how much?
– How many people will sit within the command center and from which teams?
– How will the functioning of the command center itself be monitored?
– What is the value that will be derived from building a command center?
Let’s have a look inside some of the world’s best known command centers.
Superbowl : Case Study
During the games, the Superbowl host committee set up a command center to help their audience find way into New York city during the games. The command center had 45 computers and a team of 40 who were using #SBQuestions to reply to any queries of users across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and its own blog.
Their policies were to reply to the questions with a human approach and avoid sounding like a robot. A software called Tracx was being used to track these questions. The questions were then assigned to team members. Among this team of 40, there were also micro teams. One such micro team was creating visual charts, data and other shareable content.
5 Steps of Setting up a Command Center
Step 1: Design Space
The design of your command center needs to be appropriate and be approachable. After assigning a space within the office premises, you need to figure out dynamics of the interiors. There has to be enough space for the social media team to sit,for installation of large screens as well as desks and chairs with smaller desktops.
It could be as small as 3 desktops, 3 screens depending on what and how much you want to track. Or it could be as big as a 40 team member area with screens displaying relevant data across walls. The resources and logistics required to build the command center should be the key considerations of the plan.
At this level, decisions about involving the CEO and CMO of the company can be taken by installing 2 screen kiosks of the command centre in their office/cabin for them to keep track of what’s happening there.
Step 2: Tools and Technology Approvals
You need to invest in some of the best tools available for customer listening, tracking and monitoring. These could range from multiple tools or finalizing on one tool which offers multiple services. Tools available in the market today are Unmetric, Germin8, Simply360, Radian6, Locobuzz, Airwoot, Konnect Social among many others.
Be sure of which one you pick since this will define the inputs you receive for business insights. Judge these tools on the basis of user interface, loading time, features, realtime analysis, time taken to collate data as well as ease of use. You could probably get trained on enterprise software of these tools and then decide.
Step 3: Staff Roles
The command center is not just about fancy designs as I already mentioned. There has to be a team of useful social executives using the best technology to make sense of the data being generated on a daily basis. For this, a brand needs to have a specific set of people.
Designers, writers, community managers, communication managers, marketing specialists need to be present in the room. These roles need to be defined and carefully chalked out as to avoid overlapping and overwhelming work output.
These are the people who will sort out the conversations that are coming in and hence they need to be very passionate about social media, have specific skill sets, who is tech savvy and also needs to know the products in and out.
The usual basic hierarchy of a command center should look like this:
Step 4: Implementation of Processes
Once, the command center is functional, processes need to be implemented. Objectives of setting this up come back to spotlight. Keeping track of the data, escalation processes, seamless conversation flow within departments, which pieces of technology need to be bought together etc.
For example if a company does recruiting through social media and a user has been on an interview through Twitter, the HR needs to be involved. The brand needs to figure out whether this process will take place once a week, a day and accordingly staff the command centre with relevant people and the right technology.
There has to be the right balance between ongoing and temporary programs. There might be campaigns which last a day or a week v/s day to day activities on social.
Step 5: Training
The most crucial and important aspect of setting up a command center is to train the employees and build regular training programs. A pre requisite set of responses to complaints which do not sound robotic, a smart way of using technology for company benefit etc. can all be a part of this training module. It really depends on the scale of the command center. The personnel need to be well equipped with policies and procedures to be able to make effective use of this set up.
How does the command center work?
Once the command center is set up, you need to get it working!
Automated tools help you look up keywords/tags which can then be responded to. On a tag cloud, keywords receiving highest mentions will show up the biggest, easily helping you understand what customers are talking most about the brand. Incase of a new product launch, you might want the product name to appear biggest. Or, in a crisis situation, you will immediately know what conversations are growing and the public relations team at this point can be looped in to control the situation.
Also, if there are queries that need to be responded to in real time, the social media can take briefing from the public relations team for a set of answers that can be given before it’s sent to them. Or, the tweet/post could be directly assigned to PR team members and they can reply to it.
Social Media Command Centre to a Social Intelligence Command Center
You are now fully equipped with a Social Media command center but have you figured out what do you want to listen to?
Improvement in product development and customer service, reduction in customer complaints,spiking your revenue; the acumen from a command center is endless.
Depending on the technology you are using, tasks can be assigned, support feed can be differentiated from the main feed and employee performance can be monitored too. Infact multiple level of conversations with the customer on Twitter can be public and would not have to be taken offline because your organization is integrated. Picture a scene where a social media executive tracks a customer complaint, replies in a human language and simultaneously forwards the query to the Sales team who respond instantly to the executive on a messenger or through the tool and this is then used by the executive again to reply to the customer. And all this happens within minutes. Impressive, ain’t it?
You could also answer these questions:
– What is your main goal in listening?
– How do you want to engage?
– Which departments in your company need to be involved?
– Lessons you have learnt in the past and how can you overcome those?
Handling Overnight Coverage 24/7
If you can go an extra mile and set up a different shift of people working in the night, it is indeed a great step. However this depends on the majority of timings during when the mentions are received and whether or not your company requires it. Incase you cannot set this up, it is perfectly alright to define timings of social media support but voice this on the website and on your social account descriptions so your customers know.
If you are already thinking about building a social media command center, you must realize and ask yourself what do you want to achieve through it?
The world is fast moving towards being real time. What are you doing to be real time?