Inside Social Wavelength’s Social Media Command Centre

Mihir Karkare and Anand Mishra talk about the work by Social Wavelength's Social Media Command Centre which involves brand monitoring to intelligence building

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It isn’t a tough job to locate Social Wavelength (SW) – one of India’s largest social media agency’s office in Vikhroli West, Mumbai. But for a person like me who is still confused between East and West in Mumbai, it took a while. Walking up the old but strong stairway, I entered the agency on a Friday afternoon, which got acquired by JWT last year.

Sanjay Mehta, Joint CEO of SW was waiting for my arrival. I had informed him about my Mumbai visit and my interest to visit the in-house year-old Social Media Command Centre (SMCC). After sipping some hot coffee, Sanjay gave me a sneak peek of a report that had been recently shipped for a global client in the Wine industry. The social listening exercise powered with marketing intelligence from analysts tracked conversations regarding to what food items people talk about while having wine, when do they talk about, how do different markets talk about, what are the kind of wines that catch consumer interest and so on and so forth.

By now Mihir Karkare, VP at SW, had made himself free and guided me to the social media command centre which runs on Radian 6, a social media monitoring tool. The centre is a separate office right behind the SW office and was set up a year ago. “Today consumer wants a response from a brand at any point of the day. This is where our thought process of building a 24*7 command centre came into existence. This is why we have a separate office for the command centre which is as of now 16*7,” informed Mihir while guiding me to the SMCC. He added that as client requirements grow the centre would transform into a 24*7 hub.

After a quick walk, we entered the command centre which is a small hub of around 25-30 people working under the guidance of Anand Mishra – General Manager, Social Media Command Centre.

Explaining the activities at the SMCC, Mihir took me through a very relevant case study of Idea Cellular. SW is running the entire social CRM process for the telecom brand from the SMCC. “If anyone talks about Idea on social media, they get a response from the team here at SMCC based upon the specific SLA. The actual response happens in a second or two. For a majority of problems there is a set of pre-defined resolutions which the SMCC team handles on its own. If the response needs a great level of consultation then Idea customer service team is informed which works in conjunction with the SMCC team.”

In parallel, another process is at work, which is tagging each and every conversation involving Idea at the aspect level. This process has been continuing for years. Due to this process, today Idea has a very rich data to compare sentiments with its competitor during a certain period.

Passing by the cubicles, we entered the work space of Anand for some more interesting work that is happening at the SMCC.

Talking about another interesting work, Anand shared the challenge involving one client where the target consumer was rarely active on social media. The target consumer here was the middle-aged women in a particular segment who is rarely present on social media and difficult to target as most of them are active on messaging platforms like WhatsApp (a platform that the SMCC is unable to track because of API limitations from the messaging company).

The team then decided to map the children of the target consumer who are far more active on social media. “To get an insight of the household, we decided to target the children and their conversations. But there was a second level of problem that no social networks will provide data that could determine the relationship in a family. It was very difficult to find out who is the son or daughter of a certain woman.”

To overcome this new challenge, the team decided to focus on the places than the people who were talking.  A whole set of groups and forums were zeroed down where such conversations could happen but the size was also a factor to derive any conclusion. “We went for qualitative approach, identified profiles and ran ethnographic study on them. We were able to identify specific patterns of this set of people to reach out to the target consumer.”

The client wanted to reach out to the middle-aged women on digital but as they are not active “over-the-shoulder” strategy was one of the ways that was executed on the profiled set. This basically meant that the content was served to the children and if she sees her mother passing by it is shown to her.

In the coming years, regional content is going to play a big role. But this also brings a lot of challenges for tracking and listening since today most of the communication on social media is either a mix of Hindi and English languages or in messaging lingo. Talking about other challenges, Anand shared that tracking customers who are not active on social media or a very small portion of sample size becomes very difficult. For instance: how would you track conversations around subjects like menstruation because no one would talk about such things on an open forum. This is why Mihir is waiting for WhatsApp to open up its API as conversations are moving into messaging platforms from social networks.

In this short span of time, SW’s SMCC work has been noticed by global players and being a part of WPP network is also helping. In fact, in the coming months, monitoring and intelligence building of several global projects whether it be in English or French will all happen at SW SMCC Mumbai office.