Ground Zero

More and more brands are in­vest­ing in com­mand cen­tres for so­cial me­dia so­lu­tions

Business Today - - CONTENTS - By DE­VIKA SINGH @de­vikas­ingh29

More and more brands are in­vest­ing in com­mand cen­tres for so­cial me­dia so­lu­tions

Aded­i­cated site with large LCD screens dis­play­ing an­a­lyt­ics and live stream­ing of so­cial me­dia plat­forms, global heat maps and peo­ple fac­ing them typ­ing hur­riedly on the key­boards of their dual- mon­i­tor com­put­ers. It might sound like a war room, but we are talk­ing about a so­cial me­dia com­mand cen­tre -- a ded­i­cated state-of-the-art fa­cil­ity used by brands for mon­i­tor­ing con­ver­sa­tions, cus­tomer ser­vice, track­ing mar­ket­ing ef­fi­ciency, mar­ket re­search and much more.

The con­cept is not new and brands like Dell and Ga­torade had es­tab­lished com­mand cen­tres abroad as early as 2010, but the trend seems to be catch­ing up in In­dia now. Re­cently, many FMCG, BFSI, tele­com and hos­pi­tal­ity brands in In­dia have ei­ther in­tro­duced a com­mand cen­tre in-house or have out­sourced one. "Can a brand af­ford to ig­nore chat­ter, whether negative or pos­i­tive, on so­cial me­dia or dig­i­tal plat­forms to­day?" asks Ra­jiv Din­gra of dig­i­tal agency WAT Con­sult.

His ar­gu­ment is not with­out some merit

as, ac­cord­ing to a 2016 study by In­ter­net and Mo­bile As­so­ci­a­tion of In­dia, 47 per cent of the peo­ple who ac­cess so­cial me­dia in the coun­try post re­views of prod­uct and ser­vices. Sim­i­larly, Global Cus­tomer Ser­vice Barom­e­ter sur­vey by Amer­i­can Ex­press has re­vealed that 64 per cent of the sur­vey par­tic­i­pants re­sorted to so­cial me­dia to get response from com­pa­nies over cus­tomer care is­sues.

Sula Vine­yards, which out­sources its com­mand cen­tre, uses it for at­tend­ing to cus­tomer queries and gain­ing mar­ket intelligence. Ac­cord­ing to Ce­cilia Oldne, VP, Mar­ket­ing, and global brand am­bas­sador at Sula, the cen­tre has helped them gain a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of con­sumers. "We un­der­stand now what they like in which mar­ket," Oldne says.

The com­mand cen­tres pro­vide di­verse ser­vices to brands. While some — such as Sula — use it for cus­tomer care, so­cial lis­ten­ing and mar­ket intelligence, oth­ers em­ploy them for more com­plex func­tions in­clud­ing mar­ket re­search, com­pe­ti­tion anal­y­sis and on­line rep­u­ta­tion man­age­ment. Defin­ing the ob­jec­tive of the cen­tre is key to its suc­cess, as it helps in se­lect­ing the tools re­quired and hu­man re­source plan­ning, thus get­ting a sense of the in­vest­ment needed. Most experts say that the an­nual in­vest­ment re­quired to run a com­mand cen­tre in In­dia varies from `10 lakh to `5 crore. "If you want to use your com­mand cen­tre only for so­cial lis­ten­ing and ORM pur­poses, the in­vest­ment can be much less com­pared to set­ting up a full-fledged fa­cil­ity with data an­a­lyt­ics and real-time cre­ative sup­port," says Swap­nil Pu­ranik, Head of Cus­tomer Ex­pe­ri­ence Strat­egy - West, Sapi­ent Ra­zor­fish, which runs a cen­tre for Madura Fash­ion brands.

But Za­far Rais, CEO of dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing com­pany Mind­shift In­ter­ac­tive, says that no one tool can fully meet the need of a com­mand cen­tre. "Every tool will be able to track cer­tain data points and hence you need to mix and match," he ex­plains. The most pop­u­lar tools in In­dia, ac­cord­ing to Rais, are Ra­dian 6, Hoot­suite, Adobe So­cial and So­cial­bak­ers. Din­gra be­lieves that hir­ing the right personnel is very im­por­tant for a com­mand cen­tre. "A tool is go­ing to throw mil­lion re­sults and who is go­ing to sit through them and ap­ply intelligence," he asks.

The big question is, do brands re­ally get re­turn on in­vest­ments on these com­mand cen­tres? While track­ing re­turns on so­cial me­dia is not an easy task, Pu­ranik says the ef­fec­tive­ness of the com­mand cen­tre also de­pends on how well-de­fined its pur­pose is.

Even as the pop­u­lar­ity of the com­mand cen­tres grows with com­pa­nies, it re­mains to be seen whether smaller brands would find them vi­able when it's dif­fi­cult to track the re­turn on in­vest­ment. ~

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