Take Command Of Your Data: Social Media Command Centers

This post is the first of a multi-part series with our partner Brandwatch, in which Will McInnes, CMO of Brandwatch, examines how brands can unlock the power of social data and social listening for business.

It’s not a secret: major businesses and agencies around the world heavily rely on social listening to inform and shape business strategy. Whether it’s in marketing and PR, customer service and crisis communications, or the merging of multiple data sources, social media command centers are the most sophisticated way to make the most out of social data.

Visuals are quickly becoming the go-to mode of communications in society from both an individual and professional perspective. Think about the last time you used an emoji, checked out an infographic, or absorbed data through an interactive map. It only makes sense that social data visualizations are a key part of taking command of social activities.

I know you’re wondering – “that’s all fine and good, but give me the details!” – and that’s just what I’m going to do.

There are very specific uses for social media command centers and innovative technologies are launching every day to help brands and agencies become the master of their social data.

Let’s take a look at some of them and how they can benefit your business.

Mission Control

First and foremost, a social media command center provides a central hub for one or all social-driven business needs and activities. It is the pulse of what’s being said about your brand, how your customers are discussing the industry and your competitors, and a treasure trove of potential conversations and influencers to tap for campaigns.

Brands can strategically streamline social activities by having a social command center live within their communications team. The best way to make the most out of engageable opportunities is to be in a position to see visualizations of social data in real-time up on the big screen – a social media command center platform.

The big-screen collaborative environment around social engagement promotes a much more unified voice in a company’s social outreach so when community managers reach out to customers, influencers, or media on social they are innately more synced up by simply being in the same place, looking at the same data.

Critical Conversations

Phone and email no longer remain the primary methods of customer service. And don’t even bring up brick and mortar customer service solutions. Consumers take to Twitter first and foremost to discuss concerns, issues, and praise products and brands.

It only makes sense that the social media command center is a natural home for customer service teams. Utilizing command centers for customer service keeps reps primed to provide constructive and helpful feedback to negative comments, and assist customers and answer questions in real-time with a human voice.

The visual elements in a social media command center make it easy to see and understand customer complaints online and prioritizes high importance issues with ease.

Reactive engagement at scale means that there must be strong systems in place to categorize and effectively eliminate the actual customer service issues from the noise and chatter that are less actionable – command centers can help provide that system.

Monitor and Neutralize Crises

Those that are all too familiar with a public relations crisis know that identifying and appropriately responding to crises early and smartly is essential to coming out the better end of it and avoiding the moniker “the next BP.”

How can a social command center help in a moment of crisis for your brand, industry, or global events? Live-streaming social content on a consumable display means that more employees can watch, pinpoint, and handle public complaints or issues before they become larger and more unmanageable.

The ability for PR or social teams to triage messages from social media command center screens to executive offices means having a more organized system for handling crises. In many instances, having that preparation is key in protecting the brand’s image.

Carpe Diem – Real-Time Opps

Social media has given rise to a host of real-time marketing strategies that have never existed before. Oreo is the seminal example (yes, you can dunk in the dark). Snickers also took a real bite out of World Cup social conversations thanks to some lightning-fast social reactivity.

Brands no longer have to wait to understand how the public is receiving their campaign – now they can keep track of the response as it unfolds online.

Considering how quickly online communities can develop strong opinions (both good, but more often bad news travel faster), staying aware of those views and being agile to the rapidly shifting online temperature can amplify a campaign’s success. Or perpetuate its failure.

With command centers, brands can instantly curate social discussions to prioritize mentions from key influencers, collaborate with the larger team and other departments on social platform replies, and compare performance against competitors.

Real-time information translates to real-time reactions.

In a time where waiting too long to respond can make or break your brand’s reputation, mitigating real-time opportunities on social media has become a “must-have” and not just a “nice-to-have.”

Competitive Edge

Competition is fierce, in any industry. Social media makes it that much harder to stay ahead of the curve, with brands fighting to be the fastest, the best, the most creative, and the most relatable.

Businesses can use the command center to track their brand’s performance against their competitors. Essentially, social media command center displays can act as a KPI board that employees can use as a primary indication of the company’s social performance.

The ability to visualize competitive benchmarks over the course of a day, week, month or year helps employees recognize the business’s social development over time and the key inflection points that cause spikes or lulls in social chatter.

Impress Everyone

Social media command centers are a visually appealing way to bring awareness of a brand’s online presence to life.

It’s a straightforward way to quickly give a snapshot of how a brand itself, or its products, is faring in online conversations for stakeholders, customers, and of course employees. Not to mention it’s a really nice visualization when guests are visiting an office.

Visualizations of any kind of data equate to sophistication, high-tech, and innovation, and by investing in a social command center a brand is making a bold statement about the way their business functions. They are investing in social.

So much of what we do as a society happens online – shopping, dating, connecting, and reconnecting along with so much more – that it only makes sense to give social media the importance and screens it deserves.

Command centers act as an excellent way to bring social media into the limelight, internally, and is a great way to drive transparency, high-level industry conversations, and even promote company culture. Social media posts are an unadulterated, unsolicited straight line into the consumer mindset. Command centers give employees a link back to the ground where customers’ everyday thoughts and opinions are driving businesses and praising or challenging brands every day.

If it’s not obvious, it should be that a brand’s online presence has an effect on everyone in the business. Understanding how each employee plays a role in shaping that online image is important.

Small Steps Equal Leaps and Bounds

It’s vital for brands to use social listening to help the various departments in your business. It’s not just social media community managers or PR managers who can benefit from being plugged into the social conversation about your brand and industry. Everyone can benefit.

Product development teams take consumer feedback and can integrate it into product updates and gain valuable insights for new features. Customer service reps can address equipment failures or in-person issues with lightning speed and agility. CEOs can knowledgeably showcase the latest competitive rankings based on news mentions or online conversations.

The social visualization possibilities are endless.

Taking command of your social data means taking it a step further by investing in social command centers. The first step is evaluating your enterprise needs to determine your departmental and business strategies and how much of that is driven by social media and online conversations. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a discipline in your business that doesn’t benefit from being tapped into the central vein that is social.


What new possibilities are there now that a business is social?  To learn more, join Will McInnes at Social Media Week New York on Thursday February 26, where we learn how to strategically use social listening for business.

Social Media Week New York begins on February 23. For the full event schedule and how you can join us, visit here.