social analytics

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.


The machine searches an Interest within LinkedIn. The machine discovers the largest locked group within this Interest group and gains access. The machine segments the members of this group by nation. The machine then creates a spreadsheet with Name, Bio, Email, Phone, Location, Company URL, Social Link 1, Social Link 2. The machine fills the name from individual LinkedIn profiles using the semi-automated functionality of LeadGrabber Pro. The machine fills the Bio from the brief description underneath the name in LinkedIn. The machine identifies the Company URL from the current place of employment of the individual. The machine uses eMail Verifier to match the Company URL with the name on the LinkedIn profile in various iterations until eMail Verifier states “Address is Valid”. The machine pulls the company phone number from the Contact page at the Company URL. The machine pulls the individual’s public LinkedIn profile. The machine searches within the Contact Info in LinkedIn for other URLs and social links associated with the individual. The machine then places a social link or URL in the Social Link 2 column.

How Analysts Deliver Meaningful Actions to Stakeholders

The following post was inspired by a recent day of meetings at a major FMCG (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) retailer in the United States. The post focuses on the use of market-related insights to deliver action-inducing stories to brand leadership and technical staff within the corporation.

THE “DEEP” ANALYST – A DEFINITION: A “deep” analyst chooses a psychological theme for analyzing a massive amount of data. For example, a “deep” analyst could apply an understanding of Jungian psychology to his/her analysis, focusing on classical Jungian therapeutic definitions as a guide for data segmentation. Such an analyst would seek to answer classical Jungian questions about an individual or group through his/her work with the data — for example, what “shadow” or unconscious elements of our corporation now animate our workforce? A corporate leader would want to know about these “hidden” animators of daily workforce behavior to better align manager actions and gain more precise results from staff.

(Summary: A researcher can study customer behavior and then tell corporate leadership what is secretly controlling staff and consumer actions.)

THE VALUE OF THE “DEEP” APPROACH: A significant value in the “deep” psychological approach to data is a wealth of short, yet powerful, anecdotes derived from research and “strung” along the path of a classical inner journey. When applied to a corporation, such stories offer tremendous value to stakeholders in making better decisions about a host of internal and external issues. As an example, what would happen if a major corporation studied Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey, discovered where on that journey specific business units currently “walked”, and was better able to make decisions based upon this metaphor?

(Summary: A researcher can study customer behavior and then tell stories to corporate leadership as a means to inspiring specific helpful actions.)

THE ACTIONS OF A “DEEP” ANALYST WITHIN THE CORPORATION: The first action such a “deep” analyst takes within a corporate entity is to reveal the archetype at the brand core: that force in the unconscious of the company that is animating its stakeholders. The second action is to reveal who is consciously engaged with that archetype. The third is to influence, change and enhance the magnetism of the brand’s core so that customers and stakeholders are better served by a more inspired brand leadership.

(Summary: A researcher is curious about the main story of a brand or company. He/she is also interested in who else is aware of this story and what they do about this story on a regular basis. Finally, the researcher takes action to grow awareness of this story so that more people in a corporation will be helped/inspired and do a better job.)

RESULT #1 – INSPIRATION FOR TEAM LEADERS FROM INSIGHTS: Leadership will take insights gleaned by a “deep” analyst and engage more effectively with the core of the brand. A corporate leader must be steeped in the living and numinous entity that pulses at the center of the brand. Such devotion by the leader inspires stakeholders, merchant partners, employees and customers. You can tell when a corporate leader has become fully possessed by his/her brand…just take a look at Branson, Hsieh and Bezos. These are beings who enter regularly into the “fire” that burns at the core of their respective brands, emerging with powerful inspiration, drive and leadership for the entire corporate entity. The right set of stories derived through insights will ideally lift the “uninspired” leader to a new level of excitement about his/her business unit. In such cases, a single metaphor derived from insight can give birth to a greater level of passion in the leader and lift his/her staff up to a higher level of performance as a result.

RESULT #2 – WHAT A “DEEP” INSIGHT REVEALS: A deep insight reveals what animates a corporate entity, identifies the lenses within leadership upon company events and is a story of consequences (both “good” and “bad”). A deep insight inspires a bevy of possible actions and conceives strategies that will best serve current initiatives, stakeholders and customers. A deep insight will chart a path for brand leadership in winning on all levels. A deep insight contains the voices of a Critic AND a Creative, doing their duet. In this song, the Critic refines the Creative’s gift and the Creative ends up delivering happiness to the Critic: a win-win. Key: A deep insight provides a host of windows for times when doors seem to be closing.

THE FMCG EXAMPLE – HOW INSIGHTS BECOME PRACTICAL AND ACTION-INDUCING: Let us take, for instance, a leading FMCG entity with one foot in “flesh-retail” and one foot in the digital realm. This entity has an opportunity to weave flesh and digital with such elegance, such precision, that a customer hardly has to think when being served by one or the other. Deep insights will deliver tech so deeply embedded into the customer experience that the tech disappears…the customer makes his/her use of the tech a daily, even hourly, action.

Let us say, for instance, that this FMCG entity has created an app that delivers daily personalized discounts based on the customer’s past purchases, current financial “reality” and publicly expressed wishes. What a win for everyone! The customer wins because every time he/she steps into the retail or digital outlet, a discount on his/her faves is given (plus a whole lot more, in the ideal scenario). The resulting love affair influences the customer’s friends to participate and the merchants serving this FMCG are glowing with happiness as sales go up. The resulting community is a truly potent entity, able to extend seemingly un-ending generosity within itself and to its greater community. Everyone wants a piece of the action in such a scenario.

SUMMARY: An analyst focused on “deep” insights will evangelize the power of such intelligence throughout the corporate entity, throughout the brand organism. Such an analyst will educate every silo on how to use insights from intelligence for daily wins: within internal focus groups, (solving previously “un-solveable” issues), within customer focus groups, (solving those daily headaches that slow down the purchase cycle), within competitive situations, (revealing collaborative possibilities). A deep insight is the “A-ha!”, the “Eureka!”…and with the depth of data currently available, the market intelligence analyst working within a corporate entity has abundant and daily opportunities to make this exclamation and deliver powerful actions to every silo, every leader, every employee and, ultimately, to every customer.

Social Business Intelligence Advance #4

The business intelligence solution that marketers want is the following: a cloud-based service that is comprehensively analyzing in real-time networks of regular customers AND matching these customers (and their friends) to upcoming deals specific to past purchases. For instance, if Amazon were to fully integrate its data with Facebook’s data, a profound level of matching would become possible. Senior leadership within major FMCG and retail entities should be actively cultivating technical vendors and in-house technicians to achieve this type of customer intelligence solution.

On Networks and Individuals – a vital shift for the corporate mindset

One of the most forward-thinking actions a large entity can take in 2013 is designing programs through which small and medium sized entities may become affiliates. To say this again: see your prospect list as a list of networks, NOT as a list of individuals. And begin now to study these networks, to segment the individuals within these networks and to devise scripts, business plans and strategic alliances with each and every one (where it makes sense).

Seeing individuals as networks is perhaps the most important mind change for the C-Suite. In a world of social networks and social business, such a leap is how large corporations will stay alive. As Peter Economides, a leading market strategist, has said, “Mass is the aberration, one-to-one is the convention.” We have to get back to the mindset of the neighborhood shop, the hyper-local one-to-one way of business. This is how economies will flourish again, and why large businesses should begin to invest cash into lucrative local pools of affiliates.

When a corporation receives access to social networks through its staff, when the C-Suite is introduced into these networks, the initial questions have to do with practical application. An employee seeking to demonstrate the practical application of social business need only pick up the old rolodex on the desk of his/her CEO. That rolodex, that little black book, IS the central symbol for clueing the C-Suite into the practical application of social networks. And the entity that started in 2007 to build online rolodexes, to segment these into lists of prospects, future employees, affiliates, vendors, and competitors, has already streaked out ahead of the entity just entering social networks.

Eleftherios Hatziioannou, Principal at Peopleizers, captures the dilemma for corporate leaders: “Marketers and the organizations behind them need to stop thinking in quantitative metrics only and add some deeper/relationship-based success factors to their strategies. However, these are more difficult to scale, because it takes one relationship at a time. This puts many businesses off. They think: How am I supposed to answer every single question out there? Isn’t it more efficient to just keep interrupting people with our messages the way we did in the past decades?”

Corporations wishing to succeed in social networks will have to divert a percentage of advertising & media spending towards a new “Relationship Marketing” Department, populated with customer-service minded folks — the mindset in this department ought to be more like the real estate agent vs. the call center “cold caller” who has to get through a specific number of calls before lunch. In this new Relationship Marketing Department, it’s about quality contacts and quality networks derived from research followed up with highly customized customer-service flavored sales — solutions-oriented sales leading to a long-term relationship.