Tapping The Social Media Firehose For Digital Signage Content

April 8, 2014 by Dave Haynes

When I spend time with consulting clients who want to have, or are upgrading, public-facing digital signage networks, the conversation around the content mix usually involves a discussion about what the client does with social media.

Usually, it’s very little, because social media is this big, unwieldy thing that keeps shape-shifting and causing trouble.

That’s a perfectly reasonable point of view, but steering clear of what can be a firehose stream of social media content means steering clear of how the public is talking about and celebrating your brand and its activities.

When LocaModa was still its own thing (since acquired by Monster Media), founder Stephen Randall always cautioned that the best approach was to have human moderation filtering the river of content and removing the nasty, profane or negative stuff long before it made it to screens.

That made absolute sense, but was also very expensive and still subject to human error, particularly if it was outsourced to teams that were looking for F-Bombs but not the nuances of how brands are talked about. Companies like Insteo even developed artificial intelligence to do that moderation by machine, but that took a lot of trust in algorithms.

Ideally, companies have internal people to filter content and “curate” the stuff that makes for great content on screens. That might be finish line photos from a charity run sponsored by a bank, or selfies posted by young women showing off a new pair of shoes bought a particular retailer.

Framed up properly, that’s great stuff for digital sign networks.

An article in Ad Age suggests more and more companies are taking social media seriously, both as content and as a means to take the steady pulse of consumers and customers. The post looks at how Wells Fargo has a command center just for social media.

Having some version of a social-media command center is becoming like table stakes for brands in 2014.

That’s borne out by the fact that a big bank like Wells Fargo— with a need for cautious risk assessment in its marketing activities that surpasses what a CPG or a retailer would have — is publishing so much social content that it needs one.

While risk is a consideration for any brand that publishes on Twitter, where gaffes can go viral in minutes, a bank must be even more thorough in its vetting of social content to ensure it complies with financial rules. In that complex regulatory environment, Wells Fargo was on track to publish 16,000 pieces of social content in the first quarter of the year.

Its command center tracks anywhere from 2,000 to 4,000 mentions a day.

The bank has a dozen people in San Francisco — as well as a team of six in Charlotte, N.C. — to monitor and post to social-media channels like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube. (A launch on Pinterest was set for early April.) They sit in front of a bank of TV screens that broadcast mentions of the brand and how social sentiment is trending. The dress code is a lot less formal than standard banker attire; some team members were wearing jeans on a recent Wednesday morning.

Their ranks also include “social-care bankers” who have a customer-service role and help address problems that Wells Fargo customers raise on social channels. If a veteran has a service issue, they might route him or her to a Wells Fargo team focused on veterans, for example.

At their daily morning briefing, the team reviewed top headlines — on the missing Malaysian flight, the winners of a mega-millions jackpot, and Oracle falling short of earnings expectations — as well as top stories that were generating social-media mentions of Wells Fargo (like a New York Post piece about the bank allegedly setting up procedures to generate on-demand foreclosure papers.)

It also reviewed content in the pipeline, like posts about retirement planning and the Soldiers to Summits program (which arranges for disabled veterans to go mountain climbing.)

Virtually every piece of content needs approval, and Wells Fargo has a risk manager focused on social in place in Charlotte and is hiring another. The only posts that don’t need pre-approval are simple responses from moderators of the “thank you for your post” variety, according to Renee Brown, the bank’s director-enterprise social media.

History-related “throwback Thursday”-style content “doesn’t require much review,” she said. But anything to do with lending services and offers gets vetted by a lawyer.

Really interesting. That’s a big investment not many companies can make, but I am finding more and more that larger companies have social media teams. I think their primary roles are customer service, but what’s coming out of the firehose of social content is also – in some cases – great, relevant content for screens.

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