Gatorade and Dell created buzz in late 2010 when both brands opened the first widely publicized social media command centers. Gatorade Senior Marketing Director Carla Hassan said the company’s command center was a way to “take the largest sports brand in the world and turn it into the largest participatory brand in the world.” Other large brands, including Southwest Airlines and the American Red Cross, have followed by opening their own command centers.
In 2010, when Facebook had just 400 million users, as compared to 1.65 billion in 2016, the public relations value alone may have justified the investment. Fast forward to 2016, when there are 500 million tweets per day and CMOs are left to ask: Are command centers still a worthwhile investment of time, energy, attention and budget?
Social marketing command centers are highly visible, centrally located hubs of social media monitoring and marketing activity. They may be owned or outsourced and may or may not be staffed cross-functionally.
“The high visibility of a command center carries reward and risk,” noted Jay Wilson, research director, Gartner for Marketers. Command centers will illuminate the effective, and not so effective, aspects of a social marketing strategy. Gartner clients report that social marketing expertise, processes and content often operate in isolation from an organization’s multichannel marketing strategy. A simple relocation of the social team into a command center, without a view toward supporting the entire marketing strategy and entire customer journey, will only shine a brighter light on this divide.