The Evolution of Social Media Command Centres

… and why all brands can benefit from a listening post.

Social media has enjoyed the fastest rate of adoption of any media form in human history.  As individuals we consume and produce media amongst one another continuously, but when it comes to social media engagement, most brands and organizations still have the old culture of broadcasting. Over the past few years, companies have joined social media channels in droves, but for many, these new channels are seen as just this, channels – additional outlets for more broadcasted messages.  What companies need is maybe to do less talking, and more listening.

In an interesting take in The Guardian this week, Tim Anderson suggested that companies should stop worrying about search engine optimization and turn their attention to social media optimization instead:

“What then is social media optimisation? It is about inviting people into conversation rather than merely broadcasting a message. It is about listening to social media chatter and acting on the results. It is a hashtag or twitter handle on every ad, and a responsive team behind that social media presence for those who respond.”

During the past few years, a few brands have started taking this to heart and built up social media listening centers of various shapes and sizes.

The first brand to buzz about their command center was Gatorade:

The company launched its Gatorade Mission Control Center inside of its Chicago headquarters, a room that sits in the middle of the marketing department and could best be thought of as a war room for monitoring the brand in real-time across social media. (Adam Ostrow,Mashable 2010)

Gatorade's Social Command Center 2010

Gatorade’s Social Command Center 2010

Dell soon followed (2010) with the Dell Ground Control

Based in its Round Rock, Texas headquarters, Dell’s new social monitor center was (and most likely still is)  an integral part of its @Dellcares customer care.  Dell understood the significance of social media for customer “listening” and used this in evolution of the call center. Keeping an eye on social media was seen as a tool to spot an unhappy customer before they called the call center or go viral with their complaint. But that’s not all as Manish Mehta commented on Jeremiah Owyang’s blog:

“Our new “Ground Control” is about tracking the largest number possible conversations across the Web and making sure we “internalize” that feedback – good and bad. … Dell’s Ground Control is also about getting that information to the right people wherever they are in the Dell organization, globally and functionally.”

dell-to-launch-social-media-listening-command-center-exclusive--a81ebc0bbf

Dell’s Ground Control

Australia’s National Rugby League’ (NRL) Mission Control Room 2013

Another style and purpose command centers serve is to support the production of high volume real time social media content for short term big events. Check out the 2013 Australia’s National Rugby League’ (NRL) Mission Control Room created for the The State of Origin considered the Super Bowl of rugby. The NRL Mission Control Room was manned full-time during the 2013 State of Origin Series to track, engage, reward, and amplify the real-time social conversation going on.  According to Allison Stadd’s article in AllTwitter:

“The effort generated more than 1 billion impressions of the State of Origin hashtags, unprecedented engagement with the league’s content. Set up inside the stadium, the control room employed famous ex-players and celebrities along with a team of social media experts, designers, and copywriters to produce custom content on the fly.”

Social Media Command Centers create a culture of listening

For Marks & Spencer, Buzz Radar created a social media command center with a big screen visualization aimed at the whole organization. This next step in the evolution of the command center creates a culture of listening to the customer in real time throughout the whole organization. Built on our earlier experience with Nokia’s Agora command center, we have seen the power of democratizing the real-time aggregated social communications about a brand instead of keeping it silo-ed within specific departments or waiting for someone in one department to disseminate to another.

While social is at the heart of the conversations the visuals become increasingly powerful when the live social streaming is paired with company specific real-time metrics like number of downloads of their app from iTunes store or number of pre-orders on Amazon.

We believe this information should be seen by the whole organizations, and by placing the visualizations in common areas, everyone can not only see it, but it sparks conversations between employees, entertains and builds company culture centered around the customer.

The M&S Social Wall from Buzz Radar on Vimeo.

We believe all organizations, not just large enterprises can greatly benefit from listening to social media, our Social Media Command Centers serve companies large and small.

With our new ‘Listening Post’ system soon you’ll be able to build your own visualizations in 10 minutes for your brand or event.  Sign up for an invite to our beta coming soon.

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