Every morning, like thousands of readers, I scan Mashable for interesting tidbits of information. One that stood out to me today was this story, 5 Tips for Maintaining Brand Consistency Across Social Media, with this opening sentence:

“As the recent foibles of Aflac, Chrysler and Kenneth Cole and others demonstrate, keeping an up-to-date, 24/7 presence on social media has its risks. A bigger risk though, is to ignore social media. So what is a brand to do?”

Let’s face it, social is a risk and it is scary. But when executed with a specific strategy in mind, with educated employees manning the helm, and with solid KPI’s in mind, it’s a risk worth taking.

So, how do you even begin to set up a social strategy? There are a variety of ways different businesses are tackling this question. One that we recently learned from Ragan.com, is Dell’s Nasa-esque approach to watching and reacting to social conversations. What Dell has done is set up a social headquarters akin to a security guard center where three employees monitor six screens scanning over 20,000 different discussions a day. The word you’re looking for is, ‘intense,’ right? It is intense, but Dell is a huge brand and requires that kind of round the clock monitoring. The beauty of their approach is a systematic response plan in which the three monitors can track a conversation and instantly employee the correct department to respond to a situation, question or consumer complaint.

In order to make their operation run smoothly, Dell has developed 4C’s for communication:

1. Containment – Finding online complaints or potential viral issues and dealing with them quickly.

2. Commit – Ensuring employees adhere to Dell’s social media standards.

3. Control – Giving employees the correct level of access to the company’s social media channels.

4. Coordinate – Getting the right messages to the right people who speak the right languages.

This system has not only improved customer service across Dell’s social channels but also created a huge pool of data regarding geographic information shopping trends and other demographic information.

That’s not to say your business needs to set up a command center. What can be learned from Dell is their decision to not only realize they needed to be involved in social but that they needed to take social seriously, set up a strategy to handle the discussions and find ways to implement effective and efficient customer service. This approach has lead them to be pioneers in creating a new system of managing social sentiment. Trying to do something similar in your own business is something every one should take seriously as well.

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