Social Media Command Centers

A lot of Americans have had “Mission Control” Command Centers on their minds lately, with the adaptation of the popular sci-fi novel “The Martian” dominating at the box office. But I’ve been thinking more about Command Centers of a different sort–Social Media Command Centers. As social media continues to become such an integral part of our daily lives and decision making processes, companies and non-profits have begun establishing real time Social Media Command Centers tasked with monitoring and reacting to users on across popular social platforms. Since this trend will only spread in the coming years, I thought I would take a look at three examples of Social Media Command Centers in action for my blog this week.

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The Red Cross

Reading and discussing Professor Kane’s interview with the director of Red Cross information management Wendy Harman sparked my interesting in social media command centers. In the interview, Harman explains how the non-profit has build a physical room to monitor social conversations whenever a disaster happens to help connect people with resources. In addition to their staff that runs the command center, the Red Cross engages a team of about 200 trained digital volunteers around the country to help support communities in need.

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This is an innovative model for how non-profits can make use of social media to complete their missions. I thought it was worth highlighting again for those who did not read the interview, as the majority of the other leaders in this space are using this strategy to make a positive impact on their bottom-line. Here we see how a well-funded command center can be used to help people in danger can be successful. At a much smaller scale, this model reminds me of the teen suicide hotline that I used to volunteer for in my hometown. It would be interesting to see the Red Cross’s digital approach applied to a local non-profit attempting to help teens and families in a particular community.

Dell

In the Red Cross interview, Wendy Harman mentions that the Red Cross social media command center is modeled after Dell’s Command Center in Austin, TX, and was actually built thanks to a grant from Dell. Dell has established itself as a leader in social media and is an advocate for businesses listening to their customers and engaging in conversation with them. And the company practices what it preaches, offering a social media training program for employees that has over 10,000 graduates. It’s own Social Media Listening Command Center has been operating for five years now. Dell uses insights generated by the command center to identify customer support needs, connect with IT decision makers, and influence product development. Managers interested in applying these social media listening techniques would be wise to emulate Dell. This video from Dell World 2013 by Amy Heiss, the global lead for Dell’s social media training & activation program, gives a great overview of their capabilities.

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Note: As a busy full-time MBA student + EMC intern, I wrote this blog post a week in advance–and therefore a day before the big Dell announcement this week #EMCer

Gatorade

As a last fun example to leave you with, I wanted to highlight Gatorade Mission Control. Free from monitoring technical support issues or folks in danger, Gatorade’s team is focused solely on responding to trending topics and optimizing the company’s online presence. In a piece on Mashable, Gatorade shared some common visualizations displayed in their Mission Control Center. The article states that the Mission Control team was able to reduce exit rates from it’s webpages from 25% to just 9% and increase video engagement by 250%. Here is a great video that Gatorade produced overviewing the goals they hope to accomplish with their Mission Control.

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While their objectives may not be as daunting as space travel, companies who are implementing social media command centers and making social media a priority for their organization are certainly an example of a different kind of innovation. Managers interested in making better use of social should look to these innovators for inspiration. Of course, there are many other innovative social media command centers out there — Please share any examples that stand out to you in the comments.

4 comments

  1. This is great for orgs like the Red Cross and other non-profits to be able to respond to people in emergency situations. I am a huge fan of seeing how non-profits can create this social ROI through social media. Thanks for presenting the other example of Dell and Gatorade.

    Would you say that the Today show’s “Orange Room” and GMA’s Social Media room (not sure if that one has a name) would fall in the same category as a “command center?” I can think of some other programs, from Patriots post-game to Red Sox games on NESN that are incorporating fan tweets and instagram photos… Sportscenter as well. I find it odd for news programs and live sporting events to turn the “news” or “commentating” over to people like me on the couch. Sure if they want to pay me to do their job that would be cool.

  2. I think this is a fantastic example of how social media is creating a physical impact on society! Red Cross has utilized a tool we all turn to for ‘boredom’ to something that enables us to save lives. I think as time goes on, more companies and non profits will direct a certain portion of resources to social media management. I know when I tweet at a company, whether it be a complaint or compliment, I take note of how quickly they respond and how tailored their response is! It really does make a difference.

  3. Good approach here. When I first saw the subject of your article, one thing came to mind: The Super Bowl. I remember reading a piece from Ad Age last February on how agencies working on consumer brands across the nation set up these Command Centers in attempt to provide commentary in the social sphere during this sporting event. What I took away from this was the importance of real-time marketing in this day in age, and the value of it when implemented effectively. I am curious to see the data and statistics behind social posts coming from these Command Centers. While they provide us with a sense of immediacy, I think above all, they feed into consumers’ desires to maintain relevant and informed in a digitally advanced way.

  4. Really nice post. that was a fun interview. One of the funny things about “command centers” is that they’re often designed to look like a command center as portrayed in movies. Most don’t actually need to look like that (nor is it helpful). But that’s what people expect.

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