It’s no secret that business has shifted to a real-time environment and social media tools are trying to keep up. As a result, organizations and brands must act in real-time. Some organizations have responded by building out what’s becoming known as “social command centers” in order to respond to this shift. Having built and operated our own command center (we call it the Social Intelligence Command Center or SICC), we’ve compiled five considerations for creating a similar space.

1. Start With a Purpose

Organizations can have various goals when looking to set up a “SICC” including event management (such as the Pop-up Conrad* Concierge at the Tribeca Film Festival or the Super Bowl), real-time reactive engagement and content creation (such as the American Red Cross), or gauging consumer sentiment in real-time around a given subject. Another possible objective for a SICC is to have a space for community management, analytics, strategy and content creation to occur simultaneously across a team. Once you’ve defined your purpose, you can begin envisioning the space.

2. Envision the Space

The term “space” is used broadly here because a SICC can be in a room, a pod of desks, a mobile technology configuration, and the list continues. But a space is only as strong as the processes that allow it to work seamlessly. Following the identification of a purpose, a process is created to achieve success. Components of the process include roles (analyst, community manager, content producer, traffic director, editor, etc.), workflow (approvals, escalation protocols, crisis plans), KPIs (what does success look like, how do we show it?), schedules (did you know social media doesn’t sleep? Will the SICC sleep?) and a handful of other components.

When envisioning the space, the components listed above will dictate the design of the space and how it functions. This isn’t just about a room with big screens and a nice logo – it is about planning, coordinating, training, designating and executing in a room designed with a purpose.

3. Build Your Team

The team involved in a SICC is scalable in number, but must function as a unit cohesively. Depending on the objectives of the SICC, your team could include multiple analysts providing direction on what is working and what isn’t, community managers and strategists guiding content based on the analyst’s insights, content creators with a wide breadth of talent (video editing one day, infographics the next) and a traffic director that keeps the process moving. Whether the agency is executing the SICC or it lives within a company, both parties play a vital role. Freedom to innovate and execute is an equally important role – without it, the insights and opportunities, the nimbleness of a SICC, is lost while waiting for approvals.

The team should have a firm grasp on the communication goals, tools, social technologies, the brand and the community. A brand’s social community is at the heart of any Social Intelligence Command Center. Without community, the SICC is like an airport – mission control, pilots, planes, security protocol, everything – without passengers.

4. Know Your Technology

SICCs are flexible and inclusive of many platforms at any given time. Prior to making a recommendation on a tool, we test it and others to ensure the best possible recommendation. From a physical technology perspective, we’ve found SICCs should have television for real-time events and news, large screens so teams can work together and as many white boards as possible. Dual-screens help team members use the numerous tech tools together and conference lines should be setup to facilitate communication with people in the room and others around the world.

5. Go Beyond Listening

The shift from social listening to social intelligence means using insights to inform engagement, drive content creation, build a community of advocates and, at the end of the day, cultivate meaningful relationships. Command centers are an evolution of call centers with a direct line to change the way business is conducted through customer feedback. Innovation in product development and customer service, increase in sales, decrease in call center volume, creation of efficiencies in supply chains; the intelligence from a command center is infinite, as long as you know how to use it.

As we execute programs leveraging Edelman’s own social media listening capability, there are core take-aways we apply to future activations. As we write this, we are actively working on a plan for a global SICC network to scale initiatives across geographies. In short, a social command center may not only be how a brand innovates in communications, but how it effectively integrates the old and new in a real-time and connected business environment.

This post was compiled by David Armano and Eliza Newcomb.

*Conrad Hotels & Resorts is an Edelman client.

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