From Community Management to Command Centers by briansolis


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									From Community Management to Command
By Brian Solis, blogger at and principal of FutureWorks, Author of the highly
acclaimed book on social business Engage!

In early 2007, Chris Heuer, Shel Israel, Deb Schultz, Giovanni Rodriguez, and I explored the
evolution ofsocial media within the enterprise at an intimate business event in Palo Alto. One of the
more memorable discussions focused on the rise of an official role within business to listen to social
discourse and channel inbound questions and comments as well as official responses. The question
eventually arose, how do we classify this new role within the organization? The designation of
“Community Manager” earned the greatest support that day, but it did so with a caveat,
“communities, by organic design, could not be managed.”

Fast forward several years, the community manager has evolved into an industry standard position
within the social media value chain; it is also the beneficiary of its own appreciation day.

If a conversation takes place online and we’re not there to hear it, did it really happen?

Community management is indeed a critical role in any fledgling social or adaptive business.
Monitoring keywords provides us with invaluable insights that reveal the sentiment, volume and
reach of activity within our markets. Listening to conversations provides us with an opportunity to feel
what people are saying and the experiences they’re sharing. If we pay attention, we can surface the
ideas and touchpoints that gives us purpose and provide us with opportunities to earn relevance.

Over the years, the role of the community manager has evolved. What started as a gateway to
surfacing the conversations related to brands in the emerging conversational landscape, evolved
into something far more sophisticated. And, we’re just getting started.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Houston, We Have a Problem

When I think about those famous words, “Houston, we have a problem,” I immediately envision
scores of individuals seated in rows, each facing desktop terminals, while collectively positioned in
front of a series of large screens. This was after all, mission control, and the fate of the astronauts in
Apollo 13 rested in the hands of the technicians and scientists overseeing the operation.

In the realm of social media, community management usually entailed one person tracking keyword
mentions as they appeared. As conversations amplified and social graphs propagated, brands
affected the most by never-ending activity in social networks and blogs required a more advanced
solution for tracking, measuring, and potentially engaging stakeholders, influencers, and detractors.
This new obligation only intensified as social media moved from digital outliers to the mainstream.
Now, some of the socially vulnerable brands in the world require a mission control not unlike what
we envision when we hear those two words, “mission control.” The difference is that this new
infrastructure is designed to ensure positive brand experiences as well as the impact of real-time
brand democracy.

In some cases, brands receive thousands to tens of thousands of mentions per day. In reality, it was
too much for any one person to command. And like that, the importance of listening and monitoring
intensified and rapidly demanded a new support infrastructure. We are now moving from the era of
community management to fully fledged command centers.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Several months ago, Gatorade debuted its version of a social media command center. Spawned
within Gatorade’s marketing team, Mission Control allows employees to track and visualize
conversations, sentiment, and also the performance of existing campaigns.
Mission Control is manned by as many as six individuals that track various activity and in some
cases, feed insights back into the organization for response and also introduce shifts in current
strategies. Additionally, the team is monitoring clickpaths and reactions to improve landing pages,
content, and digital bridges to optimize efficacy and outcomes.

Carla Hassan, Gatorade’s senior director of consumer and shopper engagement, is not content with
simply monitoring and adapting. In an interview with Mashable, Hassan intends to “take the largest
sports brand in the world and turn it into the largest participatory brand in the world.”

Gatorade’s move is bold and admirable. It sets the tone for brands around the world to listen,
engage and also adapt. As a result, the company is already fostering increased interaction between
customers and athletes and scientists. The goal of any participatory brand is to introduce mutual
benefits at the point of engagement as well as throughout all possible touchpoints online and in the
real world. The reality is that in order for Gatorade’s mission control to prove its value beyond yet
another corporate cost center, it will have to yield revelations, barriers and opportunities to ultimately
justify its existence across all of PepsiCo.

The Dellwether of Customer Sentiment

In social media, Dell is one of the most oft cited best practices in the hallmarks of social media. The
Dell Hell days were nothing short of historical for any business. Consider it a baptism by fire if you
will. Dell was forced to listen, engage, and adapt in order to weather the social storm. And, over the
years, Dell has perfected the art and science of linking listening to relevance. While you may grow
tired of hearing about Dell’s successes in Social Media, the truth is that their social endeavors have
affected the entire organization, opening doors between departments and collaboration and
ultimately eliminating the walls that once siloed critical business functions. In many ways, Dell is
years into designing both a social and adaptive business. With the recent launch of its Social Media
Listening Command Center, customers officially become part of Dell’s value proposition.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
In December 2010, CEO Michael Dell and CMO Karen Quintos officially launched the company’s
Command Center as the operational hub for listening and engagement across all social media,
globally. Dell made its name in social media by responding to customer problems. But, this is bigger
than customer service or marketing. Dell is embedding social media across the fabric of the
company, connecting with customers to listen, engage and act on every facet of business. The Web
is now a point of convergence to build stronger customer connections and improve products, service,
and business overall.

According to Dell, the Social Media Listening Command Center tracks on average more than 22,000
daily topic posts related to Dell, as well as the mentions of Dell on Twitter that have a reach greater
than the circulation of the top 12 daily newspapers in the United States.

Tracking surfaces:
- topics and subject of conversations
- sentiment
- share of voice
- geography
- trending across topics, sentiment, geographies

The reality is that conversations on the social Web touch every aspect of Dell’s business. As a result,
Dell’s efforts in social media and community are focused on hearing everything to ensure that the
relevant people in Dell’s businesses receive feedback and connect with customers directly. More
importantly, it’s about learning and changing based on repeat feedback.

With more than 5000 Dell employees now trained in social media, many are actively listening across
the Web as part of their jobs.

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Operator Please: Creating a Social Switchboard

When I talk about the idea of the social or adaptive business, it is to the extent that social media
impacts the entire organization. Responding to problems is only one facet of listening and engaging.
The intelligence rife within the always-on focus group yields insights that can inspire new products,
services, and improvements across the entire organization. For example, Dell monitors keyword
clouds to see if certain negative words represent emerging trouble spots. If a hardware or software
issue gains momentum, the company can hone in on the root cause and issue a fix before the
problem reaches a boiling point. Diffusing the problem before it’s everyone’s problem greatly
diminished the likelihood of earning attention from influencers, bloggers, and press.

The truth is that no amount of social media brilliance or creativity will save you. This must be more
than a dazzling show because the world expects you to have a presence on Facebook, Twitter and
other relevant networks. Gone are the days of operating in a vacuum.

Before we can collaborate externally, we have to collaborate within. This is also about efficiency and
cooperation where it hasn’t really existed before. We are now creating feedback loops wherever
touchpoints and intelligence are active and brewing.

Listening and responding only gets us so far. The goal of any adaptive business is to sense empathy
along with opportunities for real-time and right-time engagement. Community management was
never just about listening, monitoring and responding. No matter how sophisticated these processes
become, this is still and always will be about building a community where communities are active
and emerging. This is about investing in a community through inspired action and engagement. And,
this is about creating an adaptive business to not only compete for the future, but compete for

Rich Karlgaard and Brian Solis on the Forbes Video Network discussing Dell

(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis
Brian Solis is globally recognized as one of most prominent thought leaders and
published authors in new media. A digital analyst, sociologist, and futurist, Solis has
studied and influenced the effects of emerging media in business, culture and the
convergence of marketing, communications, and publishing. He is principal of
FutureWorks, an award-winning business management and New Media consultancy in
San Francisco and has led change management and social programs for Fortune 500
companies, notable celebrities, and Web 2.0 startups. is ranked among
the top of world's leading business and marketing websites.

Solis is the author of Engage! The complete guide for businesses to build, cultivate and
measure success in the new Web.

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(cc) Brian Solis, - Twitter, @briansolis

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