The Next Big Thing: Social Media Command Centers

Okay, we’ve heard all about how companies are embracing location-based services, group buying and all these other mobile trends that are allegedly “next.” Well what if the real next big thing was actually something that’s been around for years – simply done better and on a grander scale?

It wasn’t too long ago that Gatorade sent digital strategists and social media ninjas into an otherworldly euphoria with its announcement of its corporate social media control center. That’s right. It looks a bit like Star Trek meets Silicon Valley (kind of). The purpose of these control centers is to use more or less every social media metrics tool imaginable –Radian 6Tap 11TweetReachEyesAndFeetTwitter Search, Google Alerts – to record and analyze, in real-time, the online conversations about one’s brand.

Recently, Dell announced that it has joined the social media control center party, with the launch of its own center that is strikingly similar to that of Gatorade. In theory, these control centers should be performing the same practice.

[As a not-so-shameless plug, I’ll be attempting to assemble my own mini-control center for the upcoming MegaTweetup 2, during which time I will indulge myself in social media metrics like never before. Should be quite the experience.]

But back to the point of the story – surely these control centers must cost a fortune to build, manage and update. The hardware and software alone will likely run high into the thousands of dollars, not to mention the salaries of all the full-time employees who run these stations (much like an Emerson College student in finals week, social media doesn’t sleep).

So the question is, what’s it worth to your brand to have the highest quality analysis of what consumers are saying about you online? Do you think that as more companies adopt social media control centers, we can claim them to be the next big thing?

2 Responses to “The Next Big Thing: Social Media Command Centers”
  1. miketrap says:

    I’m torn on this. On the one hand it means the enterprise is struggling to embrace the medium in the only way it knows how to… by “Commanding” it. Less than ideal, perhaps, but better than the old strategy, which was to “Ignore” it.

    On the other hand, aren’t efforts to centralize social media control within a brand antithetical to the ethos of the medium? Isn’t it time for brands to accept that getting business value out of social media requires embracing it in all it’s distributed glory, rather than delegating it to some intern in front of a console?

    • Zach Cole says:

      Mike – thanks for the comment! You bring up some very interesting points. The enterprise is definitely looking for new ways to handle the massive volume of content out there in the social web. I personally like the idea of commanding – not in the sense that the company has to dictate and direct every action that happens in social media, simply that they have a complete and thorough understanding of it.

      And you’re right – brands should accept that in order to get business value out of social media, they do need to embrace it rather than merely delegating it. I think these “command centers” (call them what you will) are a great example of how some companies are beginning to realize this. Make no mistake about it, those “command centers” are not easy to operate – you need people who know specific software, ins and outs of social media, third party tools, extreme task management, and most importantly how to act with as much humanity as possible, despite being behind a corporate mask.

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