On one screen, an alert goes up. A social media storm is brewing out from California and it needs action – fast.

The Command Center team leader jumps in, demands a quick assessment of the potential spread. A socially savvy team member sweeps onto Twitter and starts a friendly conversation with the influencer source. His words have just the right amount of empathy, concern, humility and helpfulness. It’s one of the most crucial job skills a team member can have. Within moments, the storm eases, and what could have been a brand disaster, turned into a brand win. Not all are so well-prepared: consider ODEON’s recent social media crisis.

At the end of 2011, IBM interviewed over 1700 global CMO’s. The top two issues on 7 out of 10 CMO’s minds? Data and Social Media. More than 70% of the CMO’s said that they are drowning in data and lack true insights. Meanwhile social media is putting them all under the microscope, forcing them to change their ways and to learn to react quickly.

The rise of Social Media Listening Command Centers takes a major swipe at tackling both challenges at once. There can be limits to social media listening tools, in that they mostly tell us what happened afterward – by which time it can be too late to act. Real-time data feeds and constant monitoring by teams that can instantly act are key.

Dell’s blue room is a 6-screen affair that tracks topics globally. The top 50 influencers in any given 24hr period appear on one as mathematically scaled headshots. The bigger the headshot, the more active the influencer. Click on an influencer and see what they are saying and more importantly, who’s listening to them. Another shows real-time conversations and twitter feeds. A third has a heatmap-covered world with topics popping up at different locations. When a customer complains about their purchase experience in Canada, it’s flagged to that store’s management. Perhaps the most important screen is the Radian 6 engagement console, the critical tool used by Dell’s social outreach services team to act and react to what their customers are saying. There’s also a useful dashboard tracking the team’s ongoing success across sentiment and share of voice against competitors in different key topics.


In March, Dell helped the Red Cross open their Digital Opps Center to aid in disaster relief and contribute to relief-response strategies. An earlier Red Cross survey revealed that nearly 1/4 of the general public and a third of the online population use social media to let loved ones know they are safe. The center had an incredibly important role, and trial-by-fire as tornados wreaked their havoc soon after.

Established in June 2010, the Gatorade Mission Control Center in Chicago can claim to be one of the first Command Centres. Besides monitoring and visualizing social media data across every major channel, Gatorade’s Mission Control center is making their overall marketing significantly more responsive to consumers.

When many of their brand fans started talking about one of their TV ads featuring a song by rap artist David Banner, Gatorade was able exploit the fast rising trend and turn around a full-length music track of the song and distribute it to fans across Twitter and Facebook in a mere 24 hours! Rapid.

At M&C Saatchi Performance, we expect social media listening command centers to be just the first wave and an ever-growing move towards real-time marketing operations. Where sales status, retail store flow, online funnel performance and social media all converge to provide an actionable platform to keep customers satisfied and happy. A fully integrated operation.