Nathaniel Hansen

The Power of the Listening Hub for the Enterprise

The purpose of this post is to outline a few best-practice actions as related to set-up and the early months of running a Social Media Command Center (SMCC) within a major brand headquarters. Such pilot programs demonstrate the types of insights and recommendations possible through the implementation of a SMCC.

First, let’s start with some definitions:


Social Media Command Center (SMCC) – A centrally located space where monitors (or signage screens), PCs and desks are configured for research of social data (and other data as prescribed) by in-house employees and 3rd party vendors. The SMCC provides a way to visualize data in various configurations relative to the needs of the corporation. The focus of research at a SMCC is social data.

The phrase “command center” has become common due to the central data research function relative to a brand’s outlets or regional offices. Insights and recommendations relative to past events, current initiatives and/or future opportunities are distributed from the command center.

A SMCC can be used for actions by various silos (upon approval). Such actions can include Marketing Campaign planning & engagement, PR response, HR discovery, Sales prospecting, Customer Service, Call Center integration, Competitive Intelligence, Customer Intelligence, company overview for the C-Suite and much more.

A fully realized SMCC is more than just a research center. The SMCC can be populated by representatives from each silo/department. The representatives can be authorized to take immediate action on critical issues. Policies can be put into place that give these representatives acceptable parameters for action and response.

For example, Customer Service representatives present within the early-stage SMCC can demonstrate an enhanced response time to resolving customer needs. Other names for a SMCC include Social Listening Center, Listening Center, Social Analytics Research Facility, Web Intelligence Center and Data Research Facility.

Social Data – Data specifically derived from the Internet and social networks, such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Pinterest, Slideshare, Instagram, blogs, online forums, websites, and other online communities/networks. The data is public information, meaning it can be accessed by anyone.

The value of a SMCC to a brand or corporation includes:

– provides the possibility to view all mentions of the brand online
– provides the possibility to view all mentions of competitors online
– provides the possibility to discover key influencers as related to the brand, market space and competitors
– provides the possibility to monitor actions by competitors online
– provides customer insights based on conversations online
– provides recommendations for action to be taken in multiple silos at the brand/corporation
– provides recommendations for research projects related to customers, competitors and corporate initiatives

The following sample projects demonstrate just a few types of research possible through the use of a SMCC.

Brand Audit – An overview of mentions and sentiment related to the brand. An overview related to brand initiatives using specific search terms. A comprehensive audit of where the brand is being mentioned and by whom. Discovery of key influencers driving opinion about the brand, the maret segment and competitors. A study of competitors’ to the brand and a comparison of mention volume, sentiment and other factors.

Product Launches – As specific new product lines are launched, the SMCC staff can provide key internal decision makers with valuable insights based on mentions.

Marketing Planning Projects – Planning as related to marketing can be enhanced through the use of a SMCC. Specific marketing projects can be created as a result of listening to customer and competitor conversations and noting trending topics. Creatives from the brand & third-party agencies can collaborate in a SMCC while viewing visualizations of mentions and complex query results.

Example: Monitor conversations during brand campaign launches and create on-the-fly sub-marketing campaigns for specific regions/cities based upon mentions. Discover influential voices online (individuals and/or specific sites) that are either detracting or celebrating the brand.

Sales Prospecting Projects – Sales directors can discover prospects for sales teams, along with detailed on these prospects. A SMCC can be used by sales strategists to created finely segmented lists of prospects. The SMCC can also be used to gather and append valuable contact and demographic data to each individual prospect.

Example: Monitor specific regions and deliver B2B prospect lists to enterprise sales staff in those regions. This is based on conversations in those regions by ideal B2B prospects. Deliverable includes a list of B2B prospects in a region with appended contact/social data and intelligence on each prospect (why this is a good prospect for brand business services in that region, along with suggested ways to gain advantage with specific example). The ultimate goal with this project is to demonstrate the efficacy of social data in helping sales leaders close deals for brand Business Services.

Human Resources Discovery – Human Resources can quickly discover ideal candidates for positions within the corporation. Insights on employee sentiment within the brand can be delivered to HR from SMCC analysts. Insights on sentiment of employees at competitors can be delivered to HR also with the SMCC program.

Example: Identify lists of ideal prospects for specific positions at brand and/or brand franchises. Demonstrate how social data can yield ideal prospects for HR purposes. Monitor employee sentiment related to specific initiatives, discover ratings by ex-employees or current staff at sites like and Monitor employee sentiment at competitors and discover opportunity for recruitment/head hunting/competitive intelligence. Monitor partners and vendors. Discover core differences between existing partners/vendors and their competitors.

PR Response – Analysts at the SMCC can provide valuable and quick insight into mentions of the brand online. Response times to positive or negative mentions online can be greatly reduced by having one central research hub. In addition, the ability to quickly visualize threats/opportunities, along with ability to append valuable conversation and contact data, will greatly enhance critical PR efficiency. Monitor “watchdog” reports related to specific products at brand.

Example: Monitor specific regions and/or franchisee locations for mentions and sentiment. Develop insights for these regions/franchisees on what customers/local inhabitants are saying about those store locations. Monitor global sentiment relative to competitors – what PR issues are our competitors dealing with. Discover specific threats to the brand. Discover specific social proof (positive trends & mentions) related to the brand.

Customer Service – Customer Service is perhaps the most valuable action within the SMCC. The ability to aggregate/analyze customer sentiment as demonstrated in online conversation and respond quickly to the needs of one’s customers is greatly enhanced in the context of the SMCC. Again, a fully realized SMCC is more than just a research center. The SMCC can be populated by representatives from each silo/department. The representatives can be authorized to take immediate action on critical issues. Policies can be put into place that give these representatives acceptable parameters for action and response. The Customer Service representatives present within the early-stage SMCC can demonstrate an enhanced response time to resolving customer needs.

Example: Monitor specific regions and/or locations for mentions and sentiment. Develop insights for these regions/franchisees on what customers/local inhabitants are saying about those store locations. Monitor mentions related to specific brand products and competitors’ products. Discover venues for providing swifter service, product complaints and other online arenas where brand brand word of mouth is spreading. Recommend specific programs or amendments to existing programs at the brand.

Competitive Intelligence – The SMCC can provide insights related to activities by competitors online, and also to the customers, vendors and employees of these competitors. As a sub-set of this research, we can monitor partners and vendors.

We signed up in order to fix the world

Many of us signed up for this social media experiment in order to know one another and ourselves more deeply. And many of us began to share the goal of working together on a massive scale to fix the world. The large organizations that understand this, and work with us, will win our favor and loyalty.

The Land of Smiles: What a Bank Can Be

A COMPLIMENT IN MONTE CARLO: I received an amazing compliment in Monte Carlo last month. A grizzled and seasoned banker looked at me owlishly over his tortoise-shell spectacles and said, “Mr. Hansen, you come from a land of smiles. But we are bankers and we care about just one thing in life: making money.”

I sat with this compliment for some time, thinking about what it meant for me personally. And, as I sat, I kept coming back to the theme of happiness. How am I happy? How is this banker happy? How is my family happy? How is this banker’s family happy? Is it really money that makes a person happy? Or is it something else?

THE HISTORY OF MONEY: When one looks at the history of money itself, it becomes very clear that the pursuit of money alone does not yield happiness. In The Ascent of Money, Niall Ferguson writes, “And yet the silver of the New World could not bring the rebellious Dutch Republic to heel; could not secure England for the Spanish crown; could not save Spain from an inexorable economic and imperial decline. Like King Midas, the Spanish monarchs of the sixteenth century, Charles V and Philip II, found that an abundance of precious metal could be as much a curse as a blessing…What the Spaniards had failed to understand is that the value of precious metal is not absolute…an increase in its supply will not make a society richer…”

REAL SUCCESS: The real value that people seek is an in-the-flesh connection to other human beings in the context of love. And no amount of money in the world can buy this. Maria Elita, a Greek-Australian healer, has said, “Success to me is being able to look after my grand-daughter when I can, help my children grow up respectfully, spend time with my aging parents, listen to other people’s stories of hope, kiss my boyfriend often, spend every Sunday night with my crazy Greek family, express my truth as only I can, forgive the past, embrace the future and remember The Miracle that I am. None of my success is monetary or material .. Because TRUE SUCCESS has no dollar value, cannot be measured, and does not need awards.”

My hypothesis is that the “land of smiles” is precisely where the banker in Monte Carlo wants to be. This desired place is, as Miss Elita writes, where the awards have to do with family, friends, kisses and hugs.

Now I could stop there and feel self-satisfied about this little piece I’ve written on this sunny morning with coffee, fresh orange juice, steaming croissants and love by my side.

But I won’t.

Because the journey that I want to take is with this banker. In person.


WHAT THE WORLD NEEDS FROM BANKERS: I want this particular banker to find a way “out” of the vault of his office and into the sunlight of his family’s embrace. He has a family, he has a life outside the bank. And that family does not get enough of his presence. And, deep down, he does not get enough of their presence.

Yes, this banker likes his bank and the adventure of business. And this keeps his blood pumping. But there’s a missing piece of the story: how can he take this sense of adventure, this exhilaration of the “hunt”, this heady rush of blood that comes from successful risk-taking and turn it into a gift to humanity? How can he turn his creativity with digits into a creative act for communities, for families and for the world at large. Because that’s what the world needs from bankers now.

One of the world’s most powerful bankers, Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, has said, “Investment bankers are just doing God’s work.” But how can bankers fulfill on this statement of Mr. Blankfein’s? Because most of the rest of the world would disagree with him.

WHAT A BANK CAN BE: Banks have always been solid pillars in society, providing a reference point with a promise of strength, stability and assurance. The bank manager has always been a respected and acknowledged expert leader in the community. A facilitator of conversation. An authoritative source of advice and assurance. But this role lessened in the age of mass distribution and mass communication. It became a game of mass advertising, selling mass product through mass distribution.

Online gathering places allow institutions such as banks to reclaim their position of community leadership. By opening up and facilitating one on one conversation within the supercharged online community environment. And as banks listen to their customers and follow their lives, a new relationship between a bank and a customer emerges. In this relationship, the bank brings a new and deeper emotional and social intelligence to working with human beings.

BANKS TAKING THEIR PROPER PLACE IN THE COMMUNITY: Banks should take their place within the community created through human-centered actions, in ways that are consistent with their institutional strength and provision. Acting in this way in the context of community, the bank will gain true human dimension: by interacting with the community and assuming its place as a pillar in society.

This is an incredibly worthwhile objective, which provides added value and a distinct competitive advantage for banks that choose this path. It’s a path bankers can lead humanity along into the land of smiles.