How to set up a Social Media Command Center

social media command center

By Rick Wion, {grow} Community Member

Many organizations have established a social media command center as a means to amplify and speed up their marketing and engagement with customers. Creating a command center involves establishing policies and procedures for various types of interactions, hardware and software tools to manage the war room, and lastly, dedicated staffing resources to run the operations.

Leading organizations, such as Coca Cola and Southwest Airlines have created a physical space and hired dedicated staff (typically with a deep background in digital analytics) and now even smaller companies are looking into this capability.

Cautionary note: Some organizations have created command centers without establishing a clear strategy and purpose behind its set-up.

Marketing teams who create a social media command center because it is a trendy best practice run the risk of not only wasting money but also setting back their digital marketing efforts because an unused or poorly run center is a tangible example of a marketing failure. One particular client established a social media command center without a detailed purpose or dedicated and accountable team members. That center is now a squatter’s office and the large-screen TV monitors are used more often to tune into sporting events than to engage with customers!

Start with the why

In order to setup your social media command center for success, first define your goals:

  • Monitoring social conversations of key audiences such as customers, media, and employees?
  • Real-time marketing and engagement during events
  • Customer service
  • Customer insights and analytics
  • Uncovering field marketing opportunities
  • Social community management
  • Monitoring competitors
  • Monitoring industry trends
  • Educating employees
  • Empowering operations

With well-defined goals and a clear plan in place, you can then move on to other key decisions around other critical areas for successful real-time marketing.

Building the social media command center

Even a modest set-up can be a complex operation with a lot of moving parts:

Analytics: Defining analytics should go beyond simple tracking of the basic figures of shares, likes, retweets, etc. A well-defined analytics plan will encompass dozens of measurements but focus on a handful of the absolute most critical indicators of performance. It is essential to define this upfront.

Staffing: Many organizations out-source their monitoring to agencies, which offers some advantages for costs, staffing and scalability. However, some brands are not well-served by shifting interactions with customers to connected, yet external resources. Look beyond the cost to consider the strategic importance to building, or not building, this competency in-house.

Software: There are more than two dozen software solutions for monitoring and engaging via social. With so many offerings, you must be careful and thoughtful in selecting the right vendor partner with tools that excel in the areas of your specific needs. Unfortunately there is no easy way to get to this decision other than a careful analysis of the cost and benefits that fit your particular organization.

Hardware: A social media command center requires a certain amount of infrastructure including computers, connectivity, monitors and perhaps other tools. Involve your IT department at every step in this process so they will be ready with the right solution for your needs.

Location/visibility: For many organizations a command center is a visible commitment to customer-centricity therefore considerable care should be used in determining a physical location. You want to put this in place where it can be most impactful to executives and staff beyond the core social team. Some companies have this behind a glass wall in the heart of a headquarters building or customer center to be a highly-visible effort … and it should be.

Of course nobody can walk into your company and dictate the best solution. All of these factors must be carefully weighed. This is a big financial and strategic commitment and I hope these guidelines have helped you think through the possibilities for your organization.

Anything you would add?

rick wionRick Wion is a Chicago-based business and marketing consultant for Manifest Social. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn.

Illustration of Dell Social Media War Room courtesy Flickr CC and Susan Beebe

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