Advertising in general has always been plagued by ‘buzzwords’, ‘trends’ and ‘studies’, more often than not propagated by advertisers and marketers trying to woo and wow potential clients. It’s common for complicated sounding jargon to be thrown around a meeting room or an email: “Where’s the big idea” (aren’t ideas inherently big)? “The channels plan should be integrated.” ‘What are our KPIs?” “Don’t we need a strategic framework?” “Can we marry these two concepts together?” “It doesn’t add value.” UX, UI, CPM, CPA, CPC, CTA, CCU, CRM, ROI, Engagement Rate, Reach and Impressions, A/B Testing, Programmatic Media Buying, Remarketing, Breadcrumbing, Gaslighting, Link bait, Influencer Attribution, Crowdbirthing, Shrinkflation… should I keep going?


Don’t get me wrong though, the proper use of terminology can mean a world of difference to a successful campaign, but back when I was still a lowly web portal manager, whenever we had meetings together we’d play ‘bullshit bingo’ and it always made me laugh how we were always able to fill it up the fastest. So I became extremely wary of throwing around buzzwords and jargon, unless I absolutely needed to.


A more contemporary, ‘Digital Transformation Bullshit Bingo’ card


Which brings me to a more recent ‘buzzword’ that’s unfortunately plaguing me at this time: “social command center”


So what is a Social Command Center?


At its core, a social command center is, well, a centralized hub for social media—a command center. What makes it ‘super special’ is that you can actually set up a room in your office, put up a few large screens showing your dashboards, throw in a few laptops with a couple of social media managers (AKA customer support agents for Facebook) and VOILA! You have a command center!


In fact, I’ve just read on a local advertising page that a pretty big agency has announced their newly-minted, cleverly-branded, centralized Social Command Center. I’m sorry to say, when I started reading about the description of this center, I felt very uncomfortable and saw only ruin in its near future, because again, it was trying to capitalize on this trendy buzzword and offering it as a ‘service item’ along with their other menu of services.


Of course deromanticizing it like this isn’t fair and I’m sure at this point—especially those who have had the proper exposure to these tools—are fuming at the mouth, triggered and itching to correct me in one way or another. But I am pretty sure, there will be a dozen or more corrections totally unrelated to one another.


See, that’s the whole point—because there are a multitude of ways to do it, there can’t possibly be a one-stop shop solution for everyone. Can there? Let’s dissect.


The Essence of Digital - The Internet


Um, hello? Digital? Internet? You can connect anywhere, wirelessly?


Why the need for a full studio? Sure it looks great, showing it off to other people in the industry, but does it really add value to have all of those screens showing the dashboards of your brand? How critical is it that you have to monitor your social pages non-stop, that they should always be visible to the entire team? And your other screens showing network or local news, entertainment channels, etc. There must be faster ways to acquire important and timely information, right? Do I have to sit in front of the television all day to catch something important? Can’t that process be automated via—I don’t know—a news feed? Keyword alerts? Mobile?


Of course you still need a person at the helm (excuse the pun) but to force fit it onto a physical structure adds unnecessary overhead, and for SMEs and brands with limited budgets, setting up a ‘center’ isn’t that appealing.


Even the tools used for these command centers can be more cost efficient. Getting a big team is great and surely, has its benefits especially when it comes to agility and timeliness, but the bigger your social team, the more expensive tools get! And some tools are actually free to use the smaller the team is (like one person small)—basic features can be enough to propel your ship forward. Do I really need all these tools to be able to manage my digital presence?


Customized > Centralized


All brands need to be on the digital space, that’s already a given in this day and age. Not having a digital presence is like tossing a message in a bottle out into the open sea—someone’s bound to get it, but you have no idea when or how. At the very least, Digital allows you to identify the when and how… and even the who.


But the problem is (especially with that new, branded social command center they’re advertising) you are putting all of these brands onto one, centralized platform, when in fact each brand / client / product / service has VERY unique needs in the digital space. Which is why a certain beverage brand in the recent past had the PERFECT setup within their agency—a single team dedicated to the brand 24/7. And please note—it was a team. It wasn’t as if it was just one guy and a facebook page—they had shifting schedules, customer support, calendar for their events and content, escalation processes and so on.


You can’t bundle social command onto one space and claim to be able to service everyone because the simplest truth is this: a team servicing multiple clients breeds chaos. Customization AND specialization through a dedicated team is the best way to go. Less possibility for errors, less chances of conflicting views, more space to think.


Imagine eating at a Michelin star restaurant and having only one waiter serve a hundred guests. Prioritization? Sure, the other guests wait, some wait much longer, sometimes until the end. Multiple birds, one stone? Sure, you can probably do them all at the same time, but will quality and accuracy be assured? Or will he serve the Merlot with the fish?


Social Never Sleeps


You also can’t set up digital and expect your audience to conform to working hours. I mean, isn’t that the nature of the internet as well, that it’s always on? So setting up an 8/5 operations for social media and customer support is a bit of a poor move.


On the one hand, how do you address issues that suddenly arise in the middle of the night? On the other hand, when your team shows up for work on Monday, they’re entire morning (or more) is now dedicated to addressing everything they left behind over the weekend.


For the brands I’ve handled, 12/7 ops is sometimes enough, but 24/7 works best. And always be mindful of labor laws because you obviously can’t have your people working 7 days a week—you have to set up shifts and scheduling, to cover the times correctly AND prevent your team from getting burned out.


Social Media is Best, But CRM is Betterer


At the heart of it all, Social Media is just another channel for your brand to communicate with your audience. The internet has allowed us faster communication with our customers, allowing us to respond to complaints and compliments in real time.


But what’s the use of all this agility when all it does is get you millions of views? With so much content on the digital space today, your ‘hot piece of viral content’ or your latest ‘hugot video’ will only be talked about for a week at best. Heck maybe even a couple of days. Unless you throw a gazillion dollars of advertising / boosting money on it, you can’t expect that piece of content to be relevant for more than 48 hours.


Yes, you heard me—in 48 hours that content you were so proud to share has been buried under tons of other content on the newsfeed, and will no longer be talked about next month. It will remain a milestone in your page, a notch on your belt, but that will be the extent of it.


The key now is, how to convert all of these eyeballs into faces. Names, ages, likes and dislikes, purchasing power, conversion. You have to get these people to INVEST in you through social media.


That’s where the CRM play of ‘social command’ must come in. That’s how you elevate this buzzword into something tangible and cost-effective: customer experience, loyalty, relationship management, conversion. More jargon, yes, but essential to growing your business.


One of the clients we’re currently handling has a great website already—over 60% organic traffic to their website because of all the content we’re creating and sharing on social media plus all the keywords we’re buying. Now, we’re able to get these people to move FROM Facebook onto our page and then REGISTER an account, and then, eventually, get them to BUY our products. And the best part is, we were able to track all these users from their social media activity—Facebook, twitter, Instagram you name it. Command center identified key users and got them invested—moving them from social to the website was the easy part.


So now your ‘command center’ has more value for your brand, because you have actually, successfully identified AND converted a customer. Next step in the chain—to get them to repeat purchase, and build habit and loyalty. And again, none of this could have been achieved if the role of your social command was simply to monitor your social media pages and respond to customer support.


At the end of the day, I go back to what I was saying earlier. It’s super sexy to have your own, centralized hub that looks so much like the bridge of a futuristic starship (I’m looking at you Enterprise), but if it doesn’t / can’t perform the entire length of the customer experience journey, then… is it really worth all that sexiness?


Need help setting up a proper command center? Shoot me a message. Let’s sit down and iron out the details. Or better yet, we can just Google Hangout and get more work done. I promise you, we’ll come up with a solution and it WILL be sexy enough to make sense.