Archives for posts with tag: control center

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Over the last year, you told us what kinds of features you wanted us to add to Tickr and we listened. The result is Tickr Command Center, our most complete monitoring solution to date. It’s already being well received, but we want to shake things up a little. Instead of just inviting you to kick the tires in a standard beta-test, we want you to take Tickr Command Center around the track and drive it as hard as you want for a few weeks. What better way to do that that than to launch a little contest?

The rules are simple: You sign up, we grant you access to Command Center for a little while, and you submit a cool little case study or a summary of how you used it before March 15, 2013. Whoever comes up with the most original or interesting use of Command Center will win a year’s free access to Command Center.

The three categories of entries are:

    • For-profit
    • Non-profit
    • Journalism

Some examples:

For-profit:

- If you are a brand: How you integrated Command Center into your digital monitoring practice. How Command Center helped you improve customer service/tech support. How Command Center helped you generate more qualified leads. How Command Center helped you identify areas where your brand was receiving negative reviews, areas where your brand was receiving positive reviews, and how you solved the problem. How Command Center helped you with market research or business development. If you can throw in an ROI piece with real numbers, great. If you can’t, that’s okay too.

- If you are an agency: How Command Center helped you monitor a product launch or campaign. How Command Center helped you monitor reactions to an ad or event.

- If you are a PR firm: How Command Center helped you avoid or manage a potential PR crisis.

Non-profit: How Command Center helped you do research on a topic that is relevant to your cause/project. How Command Center helped you monitor conversations about key topics, then engage people directly about them. How Command Center helped you track and map the effectiveness of a campaign, message or hashtag across multiple channels.

Journalism: How Command Center helped you with research on a story or topic. How Command Center helped you monitor, track and map certain types of events or topics (natural disasters, elections, crime, acts of terrorism, political news, etc.).  How Command Center worked as a research tool AND and alert tool alongside Google, the AP wire, and whatever other tools and platforms you use.

You can copy those or come up with your own. It’s totally up to you. It doesn’t matter if you are a journalism student or a senior editor at a major publication, if your non-profit is a local after school program or a global charity, if your company is a small specialty retailer or a century-old brand. Agencies and PR firms of all sizes are welcome as well. The more the merrier, and the more diverse the entries the better. Let’s make this interesting.

Who can participate?

Anyone 18 or older (except where prohibited). See rules for details.

When does the contest start and end?

The contest opens January 22, 2013 at 9:00:00 a.m. US Eastern Standard Time (EST) and ends March 15, 2013 at 11:59:59 PM Pacific Standard Time (PST)..  How long and thorough you make your summary or case study is entirely up to you. Make videos, take pictures, create presentations, or just fill in the blanks in the form we’ll send you. You’re totally in charge of this thing.

What can I win?

Winners will enjoy one full year’s free use of Tickr Command Centerserious bragging rights, and maybe a few extra goodies. (More on that later.)

How does this contest work?

The short version:

  1. Sign up.
  2. Receive free access to Tickr’s brand new Command Center monitoring suite. (We’ll also send you the rules, some tips, and a registration form.)
  3. Use Command Center.
  4. Submit a summary or case study before March 16, 2013.

Go here and sign up. It only takes a few seconds.

You can also address questions to us via our Facebook account or our Twitter account, and if you have no idea what Tickr or Command Center are, you might want to watch this quick one-minute demo.

We can’t wait to see how you will use Command Center to make your world work better!

Feel free to share this with all your friends.

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

 Tickrnew001

Red Bull Stratos Mission Control: Not a Bad Template

Today, let’s take a look at 5 key considerations in the development of a digital mission control center. You didn’t think that it was going to be as easy as throwing a few monitors and monitoring tools together, did you? It’s a good start, but if you want to do it right, make sure that you follow these five guidelines (or at least give them some thought).

1. Let purpose be your guide.

We’ve talked about this before, but it bears bringing up again: don’t back yourself into a shiny-object-syndrome corner. You aren’t investing resources in a state of the art digital mission control center for the sake of having a state of the art digital mission control center. Instead, give some serious thought to what you hope to accomplish with it. Let purpose be your guide. And by purpose, we mean value, utility, benefits, advantages. The two most important questions driving the development of a digital mission control center are “how will this make us a better at (insert whatever you want here)?” and “how will we incorporate this into our day to day business processes?”

2. Move beyond buzzwords like “monitoring.”

The purpose of a digital mission control centers is rarely just to “monitor” the internets. Dig deeper: Why are you monitoring social channels? Why are you monitoring mentions of your brand or products? To what end? What do you intend to do with the information you uncover? This brings us from purpose to function. Monitoring digital channels without some follow-up function is pointless. You have to think beyond the obvious. What business functions does monitoring ultimately serve?

First, think about the monitoring piece as the first in four phases of action: Discovery. Reporting. Analysis. Response.

Second, think about whom the reporting would be geared towards. It depends on the type of information discovered, right? Here are a few examples:

Can your monitoring of digital channels help a product marketing team track reactions to a new product they just released?

Can your monitoring of digital channels help an online reputation/crisis management team spot a problem early enough to keep it from  snowballing into a full scale PR crisis?

Can your monitoring of digital channels help a consumer insights team measure changes in sentiment towards certain products, features and product trends?

Can your monitoring of digital channels help your HR department identify potentially dangerous social media behaviors in some of your employees that could be curbed through internal training?

Can your monitoring of digital channels help your marketing department adjust the tone, frequency and message of a digital campaign?

Can your monitoring of digital channels help your community management team and customer service department effectively address customers and potential customers’ questions and concerns in real time?

These are just some of the things that should drive the development of a digital mission control center. Monitoring is only the first step. Make sure it plugs in with steps 2, 3 and 4: reporting, analysis and reaction.

3. Plan for scale.

Understand the importance of your digital mission control center to the entire organization. Do this early. At first, your control center may just be three or four screens sitting in a cubicle with one person managing the monitoring function. Invariably, you will reach a place where the mission control center will outgrow the cubicle and require its own room. More likely than not, the three or four screens will quickly turn into six to eight. Instead of one person managing this, you will likely have two or three. Before long, your mission control center will grow again. Plan for it.

Take a look at mature mission control centers (NASA and CIA are good places to start). What you will see are walls of screens and rows of desks with their own banks of screens and controls. If you are a small company, you may not ever reach that kind of scale, but of you are a national or a global brand, before long, that is what you will be replicating. Same with digital agencies: if you intend to offer monitoring services for more than one or two clients, you will need to hardware-up and build capacity.

In item #2 (above), we touched on the breadth of departments that should be (and will be) leveraging your digital command center: PR, marketing, product management, customer service, community management, tech support, business development, etc. Hold that thought for about thirty seconds. Tip: you won’t need to hire “digital monitoring experts” to fill those rows of seats. Ideally, you will assign at least one person from each of those departments to be a part of that monitoring, reporting, analysis and reaction team.

Note that once it reaches a certain size, someone will need to manage workflow, coordinate collaboration, and ensure that your digital mission control center is working at 100% efficiency at all times. This person must be senior to the rest of the team and own every aspect of the mission control center’s operations. The most complex piece of this scale puzzle may actually be the selection of this individual, as the ideal qualifications and temperament for the role may be a bit of a puzzle for HR managers at first.

4. Plan for new collaboration and approval processes.

We aren’t talking about breaking down silos between departments, but we are talking about building doorways and windows connecting them all in real time. This isn’t a pipe dream. It’s an operational reality. With real time data and insights coming in in real time, and the ability to also respond to threats and opportunities in real time, the nature collaboration between departments that may otherwise be siloed outside of the mission control center changes. With PR, marketing, customer support and community management working side by side as a team, new types of processes (internal to the command center structure and external as reporting, analysis and approvals radiate outward and back) need to be established. That also means fresh tactical training for much of your staff, based on the new requirements of their roles.

This isn’t complicated or expensive, but it is necessary. And yes, building these new processes and establishing new best practices across your organization will considerably improve its reaction times and overall effectiveness.

5. Consider your monitoring, collaboration, analysis and management software carefully.

Again, let function and purpose be your guide. It doesn’t matter how pretty a piece of software is or how many Fortune 500 brands already use it. If a less sexy, less well known piece of monitoring or data visualization software helps you do your job better, then go with that one. Substance first. Flash second.

The selection of the software you will use in your command center should be the first subject of collaboration between command center team members. You don’t ever want to find yourself in a position where a digital team forces their choice of software on a PR department or digital customer service representative. Collaborate. Discuss everyone’s specific needs. Share information on new digital tools. Test. Experiment. Repeat. Seek to continuously improve your team’s capabilities by improving on the current model.

In mature (large) digital mission command centers, you may find that twenty to thirty types of software are required to allow everyone to do their jobs properly. Big community screens may focus on macro views of what is happening across all channels while individual monitors focus on what individuals need to do. A community manager may be working almost exclusively with a Radian 6 or Spiral 16 dashboard, while a CSR might have a Hootsuite or Tweetdeck tab open alongside his CSR software. A business development manager may be using Tickr to overlay sales data, inbound call data and mentions of the brand right alongside a Google analytics dashboard. As a particular event (like a possible PR crisis or a campaign launch) becomes a priority, the mission control center’s team lead may choose to dedicate the large community screens to information relating to that event and thereby change the team’s focus for a specific interval. The specificity of certain types of monitoring and response software will obviously play a key role in this process.

We’ll have more pro tips on the way. Until then, we hope what we shared with you today will help.

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If you’re only now discovering us, take our free version out for a spin. (It’s super easy.) If you’ve already done that, make sure that you follow us onTwitter and Facebook. (If not for our awesomely curated feed, to be among the first to hear about the new product we are launching very very very soon. It’s going to blow you away.)

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

 One of the perks of working in the social monitoring and social business worlds is that we run into all kinds of cool new apps and tools on a quasi-daily basis. Most of the time, we just file away that knowledge for future use, but today we figured we would share a few of the latest nuggets of social media tech you might have missed. In no particular order…

1. TweetBeat: Sentiment heat maps of the twitterverse. 

SGI has been working on a project they call the Global Twitter Heartbeat. Basically, think heat maps that convert sentiment on Twitter around the globe in real time. Applications for this range from seeing where natural disasters and political disruptions are taking place to being able to (eventually) see how Twitter users react to a campaign or particular message by geographic area. Easier said than done, but… SGI seems to have done it, and they do make it look easy.

Check them out here and sign up for their webinar/demo. There’s a video too.

2. Cloud.li: Quick contextual word cloud searches for twitter.

Want to figure out what types of conversations people are having about your company or product on Twitter? Cloud.li lets you quickly enter search terms and creates an interactive word cloud for you in real time. Click on any of the terms, and the next word cloud layer takes over. Think of it as a daisy chain of purposeful word association. Uses: campaign monitoring, digital reputation management, lead generation, community development. Simple, free, fast and super easy to use. Not a bad way to be quietly alerted to shifts in conversations (topic and volume) regarding your brand or product.

Check it out here.

 3. Trendsmap: See what is trending on Twitter… everywhere. Or anywhere.

How you approach the geo piece is up to you. You can look at trends by country, city… or even globally, if you feel particularly ambitious. Breaking trends are tagged with a little red tab that says… wait for it… “Breaking.” Trending topics with a little more history come with a handy 7-day history graph and an activity window that lets you see who is saying what and where. (You can engage users directly from that window by hitting “reply.”) Trendsmap now also supports Youtube videos and Instagram as well, so you won’t be limited to Twitter chats. We keep finding new ways of using this tool, so we’re pretty sure you’ll like it too. It’s worth dedicating a screen to, especially if you are a reactive organization that monitors news and trends. Not a bad way to monitor the effectiveness and virality of a campaign.

Check it out here.

 4. Social Collider: Discover quantum cross-connections between conversations.

Okay, this one is a little off the beaten path, but we really like it because it’s so… well… different. In its team’s own words:

The Social Collider reveals cross-connections between conversations on Twitter. With the Internet’s promise of instant and absolute connectedness, two things appear to be curiously underrepresented: both temporal and lateral perspective of our data-trails. Yet, the amount of data we are constantly producing provides a whole world of contexts, many of which can reveal astonishing relationships if only looked at through time.

 This is a pretty unique tool that helps you (if nothing else) expand your networks and locate otherwise invisible points of connection between you and either potential new communities to tap into, or more directly, net new lead generation where you least expected to find it. Probably not something you need to dedicate a full time screen to, but worth checking into if you are having a slow week or your community development trending is down.

Check it out here.

5. TweepsKey: Visualizing and understanding your network.

Here’s how it works -

The X axis: The more tweets a follower has tweeted the more the tweep will be displayed to the right on the x-axis. The scale of the x-axis is logarithmic. When two “dots” (eg. followers) have similar values the graph will reposition the dot second dot as close to the first one in a random angle, on the next space available.

The Y axis: The more “friends” the follower has (“following”) the higher the tweep will be displayed on the y-axis (vertical). As with the x-axis the scale is logarithmic.

The Z axis: The size of the dots indicate the amount of followers for each follower. The bigger the dot is the more followers. Again on a logarithmic scale.

The color of the dots: Colors of the dots range from light-blue to green. The color is defined by the ratio followers/friends.

You can scroll over any of the dots and an interactive user profile appears. Slick and simple. Handy little visualization and community engagement tool. We wouldn’t necessarily dedicate a screen to this one, but it’s worth a look on a regular basis, so give it a shot.

Check them out here.

6. Tori’s Eye: Not the most practical Twitter visualization tool, but pretty as all get-out.

Tweets about your topic or brand appear as origami birds flying across your screen. Scrolling over them stops them in mid-flight and unveils the tweet they carry. Definitely not a quantitative tool, but if your digital control center has an extra screen and you feel like bringing a little life into your setup for a few hours, this will liven-up the joint a little. Other uses: Good for triggering serendipitous engagement points with Twitter users. Kind of like spinning a wheel, but with a lot more style. Bonus: it’s kind of relaxing, having this run on a screen amid all those graphs, pie charts and boxes.

Check it out here.

Okay, that’s it for today. We hope at least one or two of those will be helpful, especially when used along side… ahem… you know… Tickr.

If you’re only now discovering us, take our free version out for a spin. (It’s super easy.) If you’ve already done that, make sure that you follow us on Twitter and Facebook. (If not for our awesomely curated feed, to be among the first to hear about the new product we are launching very very very soon. It’s going to blow you away.)

Cheers,

The Tickr Team

In Part 1, we talked a little bit about the complexity of big data, digital/social monitoring, and the inevitable rise of mission control centers. Today, let’s talk about how to stay on track and avoid shiny object syndrome.

Why the most important question is always why?

First, let’s acknowledge that discussions between revenue generation-focused executives and budget-spending focused executives about how to measure ROI can be difficult and sometimes problematic. Command centers, in order to be worthwhile, have to demonstrate value beyond “wow, that looks cool.” Here, we run into the same types of discussions about value (and more specifically ROI) that we were having three years ago in regards to social media:

1. What is the value of having a digital mission control center? What will be the benefit(s)?

2. What will this help us do that we can’t do without it?

3. What will this help us do better?

4. Do the benefits outweigh the costs?

A quick word about value:

Next step: Defining value for the entire organization. At its most basic level, the value of building a command center is twofold:

1. Built properly, it serves a real-time funnel for market data and consumer insights.

Examples: campaign management, product launches, competitive analysis, brand sentiment, message virality,  complaints, technical questions, lead evaluation, etc.

2. Managed properly, it becomes a catalyst for operational efficiency. (Though mostly, it adds velocity to consumer-facing response functions.)

Examples: customer service, PR, reputation management, crisis management, technical support, sales, etc.

Don’t just guess at the potential value of a DMCC. Sit down with every team and/or group in your organization and ask them how a digital command center could help them do their jobs better. Start with customer service, product management, marketing, PR and sales/biz-dev. They won’t just help you map out the operational value of building a DMCC, they will also tell you exactly how it should be managed, and by whom. (This will be the topic of Part 3.)

A quick word about command centers and the marketing function:

The primary function of any marketing-related endeavor is to help grow your customer community. That translates into three areas: customer acquisition, customer development, and customer retention. One way to address this particular focus is to link a portion of the activities enabled or supported by a command center to effecting changes in customer behavior. (Hint: When customer service monitors social channels, it begins to own a big piece of the customer development and customer retention parts of the community management equation. Add word-of-mouth to the customer development and retention mechanisms, and now customer service becomes a source of lead generation.)  Having a well thought out DMCC structure and building processes around it, a company can leverage real-time monitoring and turn data into insights, insights into opportunities, then seize upon those opportunities in real time.

A not so quick word about data, market intelligence and insights:

Hundreds of millions of people talking about stuff on the internet all day isn’t just data. It’s market intelligence. Throw in some simple programming that captures certain combinations of letters and numbers, and what you have now is the ability to track and capture mentions and keywords across dozens – no, hundreds - of channels. If someone mentions the word coffee in the interwebs anywhere in the world that isn’t behind a firewall, you can capture that. You can capture how many people are talking about coffee right now versus five minutes ago or an hour ago or a month ago. You can also look into how they are using the word coffee. Are they craving it right now? Are they asking for recommendations after a bad experience turned them off a particular brand? Are they simply comparing coffee to their personal preference? (Tea, for instance.)

You can even disambiguate: maybe they were talking about a color or a candy flavor. Maybe they were referring  to a commodities report or citing economic data from Colombia. You can see where in the world they are, you can look into their wants and likes and habits, you can see what they take pictures of, what TV shows they tune into, even track their movements by observing their check-ins. You can even divine some measure of their digital influence by using tools like Klout and Kred – however controversial they may be. If you sell coffee, that sort of thing might be pretty important.

Ten years ago, companies had to pay market research firms big bucks to be able to do that, and even the most sophisticated among them couldn’t provide this degree of specificity, this breadth of data, and certainly not in real time. Today, companies can bypass market research firms altogether and create their very own in-house market intelligence operations (at least when it comes to digital). In most cases, they will spend less and get more. But even if some feel like spending exactly the same amount of money they used to, they will still capture considerably more data and insights today than they could have ever dreamed of just a short decade ago. So it’s no surprise that digital monitoring has become a thriving industry. You can’t throw a rock without hitting a software vendor that sells some sort of digital monitoring, tracking management or measurement solution. And it’s been a while since I’ve run into a PR firm or ad agency that doesn’t offer some sort of social/digital (digisocial?) intelligence, expertise or service.

This brings us back to the new wave of digital command centers being erected at pretty much every digital agency and brand headquarters in the US today.  Some are still pretty rudimentary (one or two computers with a few screens running a handful of digital monitoring and management tools), while other setups rival mission control rooms like the ones you might expect from NASA and CIA. Even though it’s still early in the game and we all understand the capabilities open to us with these new technologies, the cost efficiencies brought to market research and business intelligence, and the quantum leap in effectiveness of this type of data and insight collection, it already seems that building digital mission control centers is becoming… a fad, something new and cool to do, the next play in digital services. We haven’t even gotten into this yet, and we’ve already forgotten why we were here in the first place. That’s the danger I want to address today.

Shiny New Object Syndrome – When style erodes function:

Pre-fad, the thinking around social media was this: “This could really help us fill marketing and marketing research gaps. Let’s figure out exactly how.”

Then, when ‘Social’ became a fad, the thinking switched to this: “We need a Facebook page and a Twitter account. Oh, and a content strategy.”

See the difference?

Pre-fad, businesses looked at investments in social media and social activity in terms of opportunities and outcomes: “How do we acquire new customers? Can being here help us figure out what they like and don’t like about us and our competitors? Can we use this to improve customer service  experiences? How can this take cost out of my model? Etc.” Once ‘social’ became a fad, the questions shifted to “how many new fans, likes and followers did we get this week? What’s our Klout score? How do we get more comments on the blog? How many visitors came from Twitter last month?”

What seems more valuable and business-focused: Pre-fad or fad?

We are now confronted with a similar problem with mission control centers – at least potentially: Pre-fad, a company considering an investment in its own digital command center would look at it in terms of concrete value. The evaluation might initially be driven by a question like “how does this help us do X?” (Campaign management, reputation management, customer service, consumer targeting, market research, sentiment tracking, ROI tracking, crisis management, community management, product marketing, lead generation, etc. Good stuff that will keep your hands full all day and then some.) But when the development of digital mission control centers becomes a fad though, what we shift to is this: “Can you build us the same kind of command center company XYZ has? How many screens can we fit on this wall? Should we paint the walls black?” (I’m not joking.)

“Cool” starts to trump function. Having a DMCC becomes a badge of honor, a status symbol, a digital marketing pastiche meant to impress visitors, clients, executives, investors and even potential hires more than serve a purpose. And you know what? There’s nothing inherently wrong with that. If the purpose of a DMCC is mostly to look cool, impress clients and make everyone at corporate feel pretty good about their investment in digital and IT, that’s fine. Aesthetics matter. If anything, it’ll boost morale across the company to have a state of the art digital Batcave. In a way, it’s no different than having an impressive lobby and gorgeous receptionists. BUT, wouldn’t it make more sense to also use that investment to drive more business? To increase customer loyalty? To know exactly what product gaps to fill in the market? To spot PR crises early, before they spin out of control? Doesn’t it make more sense, then, to focus on function before style? You know the answer to that question.

I am sharing these observations with you for a few simple reasons:

  1. To warn you of a common pitfall that comes with every adoption phase: Cool new toys can and will distract you from what really matters if you let them. As my friend Tyler would say, “this is why we can’t have nice things.” My hope is that if you understand how you might screw up, (and know the signs) you will hopefully know how to stay focused.
  2. To let you know that you can have a super cool DMCC that would make the producers of Jason Bourne movies and TV shows like Strike Back and not have anything concrete to show for it.
  3. To remind you that function defines design. Build a DMCC, but never lose sight of why. The why drives the how.

Stay vigilant and keep your eye on the ball. It’s easy to get distracted.

In Part 3, we will talk in more detail about operationalizing all of this and turning your DMCC into your organization’s secret weapon of awesome. (Yep, it’s a technical term.)

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In case you haven’t added Tickr to your list of digital mission control center apps yet, give it a test drive.

You can also follow us on Twitter and hang out with us on Facebook (we’ll be your friend, even on the weekends if you want).