A consistent, well-planned social media engagement strategy is no longer optional in today's market, with hundreds of millions of people readily voicing their opinions for or against products and services. Organizations must take the lead in monitoring and engaging in social media, or face the consequences of nonexistent responses to the voices of their customers.
Previously, we had detailed why an enterprise needs a Social Media Command Center. Now, we shall go further and talk about the processes an enterprise social media command center needs to have integrated.
What are the processes in a Social Media Command Center?
An enterprise Command Center needs to monitor social media in real time, and the staff in charge of the center must, in short, Listen to conversations, Discover analytics and Engage with social media users. These activities each have several components, they need to be fine-tuned and should scale with the growing requirements asked of them.
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This is a brief overview of the process Position² uses for clients for the "Listen" and "Engage" components of our Social Media Monitoring engagements.
The "collection" and "assessment" of posts is what Listening is all about. Actionable posts- those that require a quick response - due to their tone, potential embarrassment to the company, their level of criticism and/ or the author's social media influence - must be sorted automatically by the command center software being used. The command center team must respond to these posts with alacrity or risk harm to their brand.
The engagement team needs to segregate actionable posts and either respond themselves or pass the posts on to the relevant department for response- marketing, customer service, sales, R&D or elsewhere.
The command center must track what the competition is saying and doing and alert appropriate internal teams to plan a response on actionable activities.
A recent Forrester Research report delves into the growing number of social media monitoring and engagement platforms. Their main recommendations, regardless of the platform adopted, were:
Only staff seats with those prepared to use them.
Many firms we surveyed license 10 or more seats, but from our interviews with customers, we found most of the listening functions come from a few individuals. As Social Intelligence spreads across the organization, more and more employees will require dashboard access. But to get the most out of the technology, firms must train employees and ensure that they understand their goals for using the platform.
Avoid overloading the listening dashboards.
More than one-third of the customers we surveyed track more than 50 topics with their listening platforms. The unfocused nature of this listening will lead to data overload, making it nearly impossible to measure the success of any Social Intelligence goal. In order for firms to see real success in their Social Intelligence practice, they must start small, tracking a manageable number of topics, and tie them back to a specific business purpose.
Plan data management before diving in.
Combining hundreds of searches across dozens of end users is bound to create problems with data management. Listening platforms aggregate hoards of social media data but rely on customers to take action. For firms to move from passively collecting social media to acting on the data, they must instill a formalized process for managing incoming data, identifying insights, and escalating the insights into action.
Of course, enterprises can choose to partner with agencies for help on their listening strategy, especially when there is a vast amount of data to be managed.
'Discovery' entails gauging brand awareness, demographics, media reports and sentiment tracking across a vast range of channels. As we have seen in a previous post, tracking leading business influencers is not an optional function for any social media 'dashboard' anymore.
The enterprise social media command center has a finger on the pulse of the company's brands, and the "Discover" process is vital as here is where the business intelligence is generated. Here are a few questions that the "Discover" process should answer in clear terms, through exportable reports and dashboards:
- How much buzz was generated about each product/service specific search topic?
- Which channel brought in the most conversations?
- How does each product/service specific search topic fare on sentiment?
- Which websites brought in the most conversations? Why?
- What are the most popular keywords associated with each search topic?
- What are the most relevant posts on each product/service specific search topic?
- Which posts are positive? How many are negative or neutral?
- How can departments or teams respond to a post or share it internally/externally?
- How influential is a particular author?
- What were the specific brand mentions by "high influence" authors?
- How many actionable posts were tracked in a day/week/month/quarter/year/custom timeframe?
- How many actionable posts were responded to in a day/week/month/quarter/year/custom timeframe?
The "Discover" process is the heart of the analytics behind the Social Media Command Center. As part of the process, the team needs an action plan on what to do with these reports - simply sending them over to senior management is not enough. Business functions need to be adapted, web properties updated and marketing tactics tweaked based on the data from the reports generated. Of course, the effectiveness of those changes can be measured as well.
An effective command center is required to manage a company's social media presence. Engagement with relevant communities related to the company's area of business, as well as with the online community at large, is where the rubber meets the road. The excellent recommendations in this Social CRM study make it clear that companies must adapt and evolve internally to respond to the challenges posed by real-time social media activities, if they are to grow their brand.
Team members must reach out to existing and prospective customers alike, involve themselves in answering questions, helping out customers with any difficulties they may be experiencing, and attempt to satisfactorily resolve any issues that were raised. This is not just good PR, but also good for the company if customers are able to solve customers' issues, which in turn strengthens the positive impression of the brand involved.
Real-time engagement with the online audience can stop negative sentiment from building up and spreading, as long as the command center team is able to solve problems or answer vexing questions related to the company's products or services. Every effort must be made to engage with influencers and build relationships with them, as their opinions influence thousands or even millions of others.
We have looked at how Dell and Gatorade have set up their Command Centers, which allow them to track and respond to posts on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums, and have helped both companies become proactive in dealing with their customer base as well as to potential customers. Dell and Gatorade reap the benefits of being able to directly contact those who have mentioned their companies' names or products, and resolve issues that previously would have been ignored, thereby improving customer satisfaction, loyalty and positive word of mouth.
Though Dell and Gatorade have made news with the launch of their Social Media Command Centers, we foresee that most medium to large companies will enthusiastically enter the arena with their own command centers, or be left behind in the race for the hearts and minds of their existing and potential customers. Organizations can no longer ignore the reality that social media empowerment enables individuals to have their brickbats and bouquets noticed far and wide.