7 Ways Your Brand Can Benefit from a Social Media Command Center

A social media command center is a specific space where employees from different departments can visually monitor your brand’s digital presence, engage with customers and extract business insights year-round. The command center is usually composed of several screens displaying data visualizations from different sources.

Setting up a command center is an investment in time and resources, but there are a few reasons you should consider one for your brand, as opposed to simple social media monitoring:

  • Break down the data silos – A command center can promote collaboration within your team, as well as with other departments, and can change the way data is shared within your company.
  • Take more informed decisions – A command center can take the guesswork out of your decision making by presenting you with real-time data insights to optimize your strategy.
  • Facilitate access to data – With a command center, data is no longer something that’s inaccessible and hard to comprehend  – it’s presented through well-chosen visualizations to maximize impact and information availability.
  • Showcase your results – A command center can give added visibility to your digital efforts, as well as to the way your brand is perceived on social and beyond.

The concept of a social data center has greatly evolved over the last few years. As early as 2010, visionary companies like Dell or Cisco started feeding social data into their customer service centers. The next step was the advent of “social rooms”, also called “social media war rooms”, created by giant brands such as Coca-Cola or the Dutch airline KLM to handle the social element of campaigns (such as the famous #HappyToHelp week) or specific events (e.g. March Madness).

But these one-shot initiatives were costly to implement, and often difficult to pull off, since the teams involved were not used to the exercise. In today’s environment, social media monitoring is no longer something you do once a year to address a crisis or a big event, as the name “social media war room” seems to suggest.

These disadvantages have led several social media experts to call for the death of the social media war room in favor of couch-based real-time marketing operations. Companies like Avocados from Mexico have been able to find new, low-tech, inexpensive ways to coordinate their campaigns nationwide, such as a WhatsApp group to manage the social media buzz surrounding their Thanksgiving parade float.

In recent years however, the social media war room has made a comeback as a permanent space to monitor social media in real-time to protect the reputation of a brand, reply to customers and identify potential threats in real-time.

Here are seven ways a social media command center can provide benefit for your business.

1. Showcase your brand’s digital presence

A command center can be a great opportunity for a brand to make its employees, partners, and visitors more aware of the level of discussions it generates on social. In this case, the screens are usually placed in a public place, such as the atrium of a building or an open-space office, so as to allow many people to stop by to take in the digital presence of the brand.

For this type of social media command center, the level of complexity of the data visualizations should be low, as the goal for the command center is to be easily understandable for people with little social media knowledge. Visual effect is paramount: the goal is to wow visitors and employees and get them to share pictures of the display.

2. Check your brand reputation – and monitor your competitors

Protecting a brand’s reputation is one of the primary use cases for command centers.

This specific set-up enables your marketing, social media and PR team to monitor the evolution of brand mentions and share of voice, as well as the activity of your brand’s main competitors.

3. Product/campaign launch: optimize your message

With the release of the next iPhone, the social response will be instant – people will be commenting on its new features, complaining about the ones that disappeared and comparing it to similar products. All the conversations surrounding a product launch are opportunities for the brand to interact with its customers, get more insights into their users’ experience and optimize the message of their marketing campaigns with real-time feedback.

A command center will enable you to centralize all these insights to analyze them and react accordingly at the different stages of the launch.

4. Event monitoring: enhance event experience

This set-up works particularly well for brands who have recurring events.

For this application, you usually have a screen where the event is live-streamed, while the others present how it’s being experienced by people watching it at the venue or from another location. This model has become increasingly popular in professional sports associations.

5. Crisis management: detect crisis signals in real-time

Here’s an example for the French railway (SNCF), who have a specific social room to monitor the different ways the SNCF brand is being be mentioned, online and beyond. Just imagine how many annoyed travelers can tweet at the same time if several trains programmed to leave for the seacoast get canceled at the same time.

This set-up enables the French railway company to detect the early signs of a crisis, wherever it gets sparked, from the blogosphere to social networks, and react instantly to control its spread.

The first panel of their command center displayed above is dedicated to web analytics: it tracks the flow of visitors on the company’s website. The next one tracks the number of blogs published about the SNCF over the past week, then the number of articles published by the online press. The two last screens are dedicated to social media, with information such as the top hashtags, the frequency at which the #SNCF hashtag is mentioned on social, and the live publications mentioning the railroad in any way, with an indication of the evolution of this number of mentions.

Community managers also use social listening to monitor specific expressions on social – such as “in the train”, “in the station” or “on the platform”, for example.

6.  Customer service: find new ways to interact with your audience

This command center set-up brings up not only the social messages explicitly mentioning your brand but also those linked to topics of interest, which enables you to engage with new segments of audiences and draw them into your brand community.

A great example of that trend is the Hilton Hotels chain, which uses its Twitter account @HiltonSuggests to provide declared tourists all over the world with local tips for their stay.

7. Business insights to refine your strategy

MasterCard employees use a social media command center to identify, in real-time, their most effective advertising messages in over 60 markets and guide their ad spend decisions.

The advantage of this command center approach is that it gives Mastercard better access to data, rather than fighting to collect it from other partners or departments.

For deeper insights, make sure to cross-check social data with your internal insights (sales figures, lead count, etc) and other data sources such as Google Analytics.

The best social media war room examples

How does a social command center look in practice? I’ve already shown you a few in the use cases section of this blog, but here are some more, with different levels of sophistication, from the sports to the finance and hospitality industries.

Gatorade’s Mission Control

The US beverage brand uses its social room on a day-to-day basis to increase engagement, optimize its landing pages and monitor its various marketing campaigns. Got to love the name they selected for their command center: Gatorade Mission Control.

Article written by: Albane Flamant