Facebook has more than 1 billion monthly active users. Twitter has 500 million. YouTube has 1 billion active users and 4 billion views a day. No matter what product or service you’re marketing, your audience is on social media.
Calling these social media users “active” is an understatement: According to Edison Research, 58 million Americans, or 22 percent of the U.S. population, already have what’s called “the social habit,” meaning they check their social networking sites several times per day.
So your consumers are on social media, and they’re talking to you and about you. What are you going to do about it? You can step back, simply listen, and hope for the best. Or you can step up and listen with understanding and context to create a place that enables you to be what I call an “in-the-moment marketer.” The place to do so is a social media command center.
If you Google “social media command center,” you’ll see images of glass-enclosed rooms with TV monitors displaying live streams of online conversations, word clouds, and more. Current command centers can listen to conversations in dozens of languages to identify customer support issues, engage with customers, and influence product development. Disaster relief organizations use centers to monitor information that guides assistance efforts and allows staff to communicate directly with people in need.
Social media command centers make it possible to be ready and nimble enough to operate in-the-moment. Some of my clients call them a “fish bowl” because they’re an effective gathering place for key constituents to make in-the-moment marketing decisions and then take immediate action.
Before you launch your own command center, consider what you’d like to achieve with it. Here are seven reasons why you might want to include a command center as part of your social business strategy, with real brand examples.
Reason 1: It’s a place for decision-making and collaboration.
Command centers are a great place to bring decision-makers together with all the pertinent data at their fingertips so they can collaborate. Oreo showed the impact this can have during the 2013 Super Bowl stadium blackout. Its command center enabled it to jump on an opportunity and score big with its “Dunk in the Dark” ad. The content was retweeted 15,000 times, its number of Instagram followers jumped from 2,000 to 36,000, and its Facebook page received 20,000 likes. I’m sure many more cookies were sold that week, too!
Reason 2: You and your CEO should be part of monitoring brand health.
C-level executives are more concerned than ever about the image and health of their brand. So go ahead and put the command center close to your CEO’s office so you both can keep an eye on the health of your brand in real-time.
Reason 3: Take out the guesswork.
A command center can take the guesswork out of monitoring and understanding consumer reaction to your campaigns so you can react quickly. For example, Taco Bell monitored reaction in real time to its “Steal a Base, Steal a Taco” campaign and realized it needed to reassure consumers affected by Hurricane Sandy that they could still get their free tacos. The result: enhanced brand image and loyalty (and sales, too).
Reason 4: Be proactive.
Reacting quickly should be part of your social business strategy; being proactive should be another essential part. Applebee’s learned this lesson the hard way by imposing an automatic 18 percent tip. It led to a consumer backlash fueled by social media that hurt the company’s image. Applebee’s could have spared itself a lot of headaches by having a proactive social strategy and addressing the issue before it became a PR crisis.
Reason 5: Know your competition better than before.
If you don’t know where you stand in relation to your competitors, then you won’t be able to take advantage of opportunities to get the upper hand. A command center can put competitive information at the fingertips of key decision-makers and help your organization make better-informed decisions faster.
Reason 6: Craft content in the moment.
Getting the right message at the right time into the market will always be a challenge. By identifying emerging themes in social conversations and bringing decision-makers together, a command center can help you create content in the moment that can go viral and have a huge positive impact.
Reason 7: It’s good customer service.
A command center can offer useful real-time information, like Super Bowl 2012 organizers did from their center when they supplied traffic reports and directions to fans. CNN reported that the center generated $3.2 million in positive press and a 12.5 percent increase in positive consumer sentiment.
Countdown To Launch
So how do you set up a social media command center? Here are five steps to get you to the launch.
1. Start with a purpose: As with any major initiative, be clear about what you’re trying to achieve.
2. Define the right space for your company’s culture: Are you going to have a glass-enclosed room, a room no one can look into, or a set of cubicles?
3. Choose the right analytics solution: Evaluate each solution for accuracy, speed, flexibility, and customer service.
4. Develop a playbook: Ensure your center gets used by writing a playbook that defines goals and processes and serves as a training tool.
5. Mobilize a cross-functional team: Form committees to make decisions in a crisis, or to take action on competitive data, or to analyze data to identify keywords for messaging. These teams usually include people from brand, corporate communications, creative, legal, public relations, corporate affairs, and your agency.
There you have it: the case for making a Command Center part of your social business strategy. Being proactive in today’s social media world can help you make better decisions, become a real-time marketer, and keep up with consumers—who are already moving at the speed of social.