Public Relations Tactics

Control panel: Developing social media command centers

April 6, 2012

The NFL operated a 2,800 square foot Social Media Command Center for two weeks during Super Bowl XLVI festivities. Fifty staffers monitored hundreds of keywords to help improve fans’ onsite experiences — reaching nearly 50,000 people directly on social networks and creating 1.8 million online impressions daily.

And last month, the Collegiate Marketing Group launched a social media command center to help provide a “fun, safe and informative” spring break for the half-million students who visit Panama City Beach, Fla., each year.

Large-scale endeavors like these work well when people and budgets are in place. However, you don’t need to have a big operation to achieve similar awareness and engagement benefits.

Develop your own digital Doppler

Set up digital tools like these once, and the information will find you:

  • Free Google tools — Create Google Alerts with keywords including brands, products, executives and competitors. Google Trends provides top-10 regional topic searches with baseline metrics. Google Reader organizes relevant RSS feeds you want to track, and Google Analytics provides revealing website stats.
  • Social dashboards —  PR practitioners widely use TweetDeck and HootSuite for managing  Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts. Create keyword and hashtag searches as well as lists of media, analysts, competitors and customers to watch.
  • Other aggregators — Customer relationship management (CRM) systems integrate a contact’s social streams, along with email and phone histories. Some CRM systems search a journalist’s name and associated keywords each time you view their record, so their recent articles, social mentions and interests appear. NutshellMail emails daily summaries of your social mentions, and more sophisticated, fee-based systems like Sprout Social are available too.

Monitor trends

Set up your social command center to look for the following:

  • Trends and unique interests — News trends emerge as you monitor industry influencers and competitors. Watch specific journalists and learn what trends and topics pique their interest, and monitor the types of stories that result. If you don’t find any connections to your messages, then develop relevant, complementary topics.
  • Communication triggers — Refer to media databases to learn journalists’ contact preferences and the social channels they use, but study their behaviors to learn what they want.  Does a journalist use social media to simply broadcast their articles, or do they have conversations?  What topics do they respond to?
  • Common connections —  Track the experts journalists regularly reference for their stories.  Are the results positive, negative or untapped opportunities for you? A journalist may contact the same Forrester industry analyst when writing about mobile technology.  Learning about an analyst’s general outlook can help communicators position clients for stories or repair misunderstandings. Full-scale analyst relations programs can develop from such examination.

Assigning someone to consistently manage monitoring is your most essential step. Consider assigning responsibility to a social media manager or to each practitioner per their coverage areas.

Ryan Zuk, APR
Ryan Zuk, APR, is a media and analyst relations professional, Phoenix PRSA Chapter member and Sage North America representative. Zuk can be reached @ryanzuk on Twitter. He also blogs at
Email: ryanzuk at gmail dot com


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