WAR ROOM: strategic tool or waste of resources?

October 12th, 2016
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The war room is every social media manager’s dream, a room dedicated to online monitoring and reacting to customer and media engaging with your brand. The name itself conveys how strategic a room this is.

The war room is the heart of crisis management in an information age that is getting more digital by the minute. Its original role was strongly linked to information management. Its purpose however, is regularly updated to match emerging business needs. From an ephemeral space put together for a special event, it became a department – prompting brands to hire skilled professionals. So what exactly is the 2016 war room?

The start – Digital PR

It is no secret; the media have been forced to go through a major digital transformation to survive. The rise of social media has changed the way information and opinions are conveyed, giving a voice to each individual and making it available for everyone. Even journalists use Twitter to find fresh information and real time update on events. Platforms like Twitter and Facebook have become the main source of information for your brand’s audience. This if true for you, the media or online communities. They created the need for immediacy. This is why monitoring that feedback and managing the answers your brand publishes has become critical in terms of strategy and press rooms morphed into social war rooms.

The trick with real time marketing and live interaction is that the level of control the brand has over what is said about them decreased tremendously. The butterfly effect has never been as threatening: nowadays a simple tweet from a displeased consumer can become a major scandal if not handle properly right away. They became one of the main sources of insight for many professionals, not only those in the branding and communications departments. Even CEOs can take advantage of this.

Target CEO for instance, has been visiting his war room every morning for updates after setting it up a few years ago, as an answer to the stolen customer information scandal. That is why a war room is more than just monitoring tools and screens displaying engagement KPIs. The human factor is essential.

Depending on the size of your brand, your war room should gather community managers with editorial and creative skills that will react to any type of interaction in a clever and strategic way. You also need legal people who will make sure that all of your status updates are not infringing copyright. It may include metrics specialist and after-sales specialist depending on your activity.

War-room reloaded

The first war rooms were used for large brand media events. They were set up for a limited period of time to ensure engagement and reactivity. But as those live coverages evolved as they were scrutinised and brand started noticing that most of their real-time post hits were made by one of their community manager from home. If monitoring is absolutely needed during events, the necessary resources tend to decrease as they are slowly replaced by monitoring tools available from anywhere via smartphone.

So is this the end for war rooms? Probably not! Their main goal is simply moving from event management to a real strategic room both for crisis and customer relationship management.

Crisis management:

From managing in real time to planning, war room are now used daily to identify what is being said about the brand and its representatives in order to stay posted on potential hot topics that could become larger issues if not handled properly.

Customer insights  

They’re also increasingly useful to marketing teams as it provides information on what customer think and how they react to new product or content. Audiences are demanding and expect quick, engaging content tailored to their specific needs. War rooms enable marketers to better understand what makes their audience click, like, share…

After sales services:

A growing amount of brands are using their social media as an after sale medium. This is a way for them to show off their reactivity and care toward their customers. Think about it as damage control that allowed you to transform an issue into a demonstration of your services.
− Valentine Boudias

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October 12th, 2016

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