Generally, a command center is expected to be highly visible, providing on-the-go update of brand reputation but it may also be just a dedicated space hosting bunch of social media executives together.
It has been almost seven years since the launch of first set of social media command centers by Gatorade and Dell. Since 2010, most of the leading brands, across different industries, have launched one. Some of the command centers have delivered value to the companies and some have been dubbed as just another PR exercise. In 2017, the value that a social media command center brings to the table is not questionable; it is the very objective for which it has been built is worth pondering.
Begin with the right use case
A social media command center cannot be implemented from strategy check list perspective. Every brand needs to have one strong, if not few, reason to invest in increasing the visibility through a command center. It could be one or a mix of the following:
- Tracking the performance of marketing campaigns
- Serving ad-hoc social media listening requests for any strategic decision making
- Keeping a tab on social health of brand at any given point of time
- Providing continuous and near real-time feedback to content producing team for driving better engagements
- Connecting with key decision makers, influencers and thought leaders of the industry
- Creating a platform for handling crisis management
- Addressing customer concerns and engaging with them across multiple social media channels
- Generating periodic reports as per the need of the business or marketers
Take the buy-in from the business
Social media marketers are full of ideas and are keen on adapting the industry best practices for their brands as well. However, not everything might be relevant for them or only few things would be suitable for a particular industry. Large brands will also have a legacy to carry and they might want to be conservative in their marketing approach. For example, a legacy brand might not really indulge in guerrilla marketing even if it has all the required ammunitions in place.
Have an operationalization plan ready
The social owners need to identify the quick wins which can help business understand the importance and the impact of command centers. This will help establish a cohesive bond between social and the business based on value created for the brand. Invite multiple stakeholders for workshops and create a service catalogue with the different types of services which can be delivered from the command center. Once the businesses get used to working with the command center, they can work together to have defined turnaround time in place along with standard templates and frameworks.
Get and set the right expectations
Many marketers and digital leads expect miracles from a command center—they see its establishment as an end objective while in reality it is a part of the long social journey. Every company needs to have its own use cases and business objectives in mind for justifying the need for such an investment. This investment has no direct impact on how the brand listens, responds or tells a story online or how it is perceived by its customers. It just provides visibility to the key stakeholders for each of the above mentioned activities. A social media command center is akin to a magnifying glass—it will highlight what works and what is broken for the brand, thus making it necessary for the stakeholders to fix it. For project management folks, it is like 24/7 daily STUM (stand-up meeting) for monitoring the brand’s online progress. But it is no magic wand to get more engagement or improve social branding.
Invest in right technology; and in the right people
More often than not, companies do invest in the right set of tools for social media, as part of their digital transformation projects. But they miss out on the most important aspect—people. Investing in people having experience of a social media tool is one thing and investing in those who are passionate about social is another. The latter can be trained on any tool, as per the need of the business, but you cannot inculcate passion in the former. Brands often end up with teams having large cumulative experience in such tools but with zilch passion for delivering on digital.
Have fun; but keep learning
Strategizing is an important aspect for building a social media strategy. It cannot be skipped as it will lay the foundation for how a brand is perceived online by the customers as well as the end consumers. However, on social, no strategy is complete or fixed. It simply keeps evolving with time and important milestones in the social media journey of the brand and the maturity of its target audience.