Lee Odden

Social Media Hubs for Brands – Best Practices & 9 Examples

Social HubSocial content curation and social content creation are often the core to many brands’ social networking efforts. Curating and sharing useful content associates the topics with the brand and creates an affinity for the brand as what I like to call, “the best answer” for their areas of focus.

Growing social participation is motivating many companies to aggregate content produced and curated by the brand’s own employees. This is a compelling opportunity to harvest the brand’s own collective wisdom. A single destination for curated social content fuels a brand publisher model that supports brand storytelling, content marketing, PR and even SEO objectives.

Additionally, curated and aggregated customer interactions with the brand on the social web can surface advocates and provide customers with a view of how the company is referenced on social networks. Third party endorsements, observations and interactions are the most powerful, so why not curate them into a social hub?

In 2009 I wrote about the now defunct Best Buy Connect social hub. Maybe the idea was ahead of its time, because today many companies are curating brand and customer social content as social media hubs. The growth of social media and the impact of Pinterest design has clearly influenced how many brands employ social hubs.  Here are some examples worth studying:

Titleist Social Hub

Team Titleist – More than aggregated brand social content, this is a community powered by the Telligent platform. However, it does include social hub features by aggregating the brand’s social content from Titleist blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts. The default sort is by what’s trending. Users can make comments on blog posts and perform normal Twitter functions, and Facebook and Instagram offer offsite links.  If you want to see all of Titleist social content aggregated in one place, this is it.

Owens-Illinois Social hub

O-I Glass is Life  –  The Owens Illinois social hub is very robust and powered by the Postano Hub platform, which is incredibly fast. Aggregated social networks include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube and Vimeo. Curation is focused on brand published social content on each of these platforms and users can interact and share on any of the aggregated social content, which is a social media optimization best practice.

Intel IQ Social Hub

Intel IQ – Curated by Intel employees, IQ is powered by Intel’s own IQ social content curation platform with the purpose of showcasing the impact of technology on media, life and the planet. The site is broken down into 3 sections: Featured stories created or curated by Intel IQ staff, Top trending stories, each with an “IQ score” and Tweets that use the #IQ hashtag. All stories are “share enabled”.

Whitehouse.gov Social Hub

White House –  Social Hubs are no limited to the private sector and in fact, many government organizations use social hubs either as a static aggregation of all the various social media accounts for the institution or as more of a dynamic hub like you’d find in the other examples on this page. The White House social hub offers column formatted streams of social content from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Scribd, Flickr, Slideshare, Google+ and LinkedIn. Users can share Tweets and all other curated White House social content links to their respective platforms.

IBM Voices Social Hub

IBM Voices – Based on an internal social content aggregation platform called Voices, IBM’s social hub aggregates blog posts, Tweets, videos, and photos from an IBM Tumblr blog. There’s a word cloud representing trending topics and the normal sharing options for the Twitter feed items. All others either link offsite or open a pop-up window. There’s also an “embed” feature which is unique from most other social hubs.

USA Rugby Social Hub

USA Rugby Social Hub – This sports team social hub offers another Pinterest style layout with never ending scrolling down and a featured story at the top – front and center. Social content is aggregated from USA Rugby’s Twitter and Facebook accounts as well as from fans that use the #usarugby hashtag. Each story can be shared to Twitter. Otherwise, they link to their respective social platforms.

Dell IT Social Hub

Dell IT Social Hub– Dell actually includes an explanation of what their social hub is for, which I found useful to understand intent: “A central place to find, share, and comment on all our most current social tidbits and current events from Dell’s public sector and large enterprise segments”.

Social content is aggregated from Dell social accounts at Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, SlideShare, StumbleUpon, Delicious (old school!), Digg, Dell Blogs and Community. Users can view content from all or just specific social channels. Content is further segmented by category (Enterprise, Healthcare, Education, etc) and each item can be shared to other social networks via the ShareThis widget.

Nine West Social Hub

Nine West Social 9 – Powered by Postano Hub, this social hub with a never ending scroll, aggregates brand social content from Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram and Google+. Each item is sharable to other social networks.

Cisco Social Hub

[email protected] – Tech companies were early to the social hub space and this hub from Cisco shows the column format used by many of those early adopters. Cisco content from blogs, communities, YouTube, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter are curated here. Sharing at the story level is not enabled but each does link back to the platform where it originated or in the case of videos, opens a pop-up window.

Some of the social media hub tools used be these brands and others include:

For companies using blog or CMS platforms like WordPress, there are plugins that can be used to create similar effects as illustrated by the brand social hubs above. The social hub for our new TopRank Online Marketing website is a good example of this:

TopRank Online Marketing Social Hub

If your company has either:
1. An active social presence on multiple social networks and media sites
2. An active consumer or buyer fan base on the social web that frequently mentions your company

Then it makes sense to create a social hub.  Start small with just a few sources, such as blog, Twitter and Facebook. Then add as your community grows.

Which brand social media hubs would you add to this list? What social hub curation and publishing platforms would you add?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on integrated content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely on a beach somewhere doing absolutely nothing.

Comments

  1. thanks a lot. it’s very useful to me

  2. AIMInternetMarketing says:

    So in this article it appears that a social hub is a page that contains all blog posts and social media actions for public display. It is a live feed so anybody visiting your website can see a timeline of the latest communications. If this is the case, do you think their should be a limit to the social media profiles that are connected?
    -Brad, AIM

    • Good question Brand. When you use a platform like Telligent, Tint, Postano or something else, it wouldn’t be a raw stream of all social content. It would be moderated. So if I had 30 social accounts or 100 connected (like IBM, Intel and others do) only those meeting certain criteria get published to the social hub page.

      • AIMInternetMarketing says:

        It seems like Telligent, Tint, and other similar platforms are used for many large companies. Are they commonly used in small businesses? If so, do you consider them useful to smaller businesses?
        -Brad, AIM

        • From a pricing standpoint, Rebel Mouse is more suited for small businesses.

          • AIMInternetMarketing says:

            As a startup, we are always looking for better programs, and systems to manage social media. Thanks for the great article!

          • Several options are available for small business, Rebelmouse being a good one (I use it). Scoop.it is another, as is paper.li and possibly Storify.

    • Ethan McCarty says:

      Hi Brad, For us (at IBM) a key business outcome to drive was social media governance by elevating the best examples of IBMers and IBM brand channels. So we are selective about which people and channels appear in Voices, though they are not all “professional” communicators or marketers (lots of topical subject matter experts in there.)
      Moreover, while we continue to innovate on the experience layer (the page you see at http://www.ibm.com/voices) we are more interested, frankly, in the underlying data stream, the quality of it, the ability to apply it into different experiences such as other web pages, mobile apps etc. That said, later this month I think we are going to have a new and interesting visualization of Voices up and running, so pls be sure to check it out!

      If you are interested to know more about the Voices project, I wrote a blog post a little while ago here: http://asmarterplanet.com/blog/2013/02/listening-to-the-voices-of-social-business.html

      Cheers,

      Ethan McCarty (director of social strategy and programs at IBM)

      • Livefyre is another great provider of tools and services for enterprise businesses interested in curating content based on multiple criteria, from multiple social sources and display the content anywhere on an owned property. It’s worth checking out as our offering continues to rapidly expand for brands of all types.

  3. Thanks, Lee, for all the examples. What Social Hub plugin does TopRank use?

    • Hi Mike, We’re actually playing with a few. When we decide, I’ll reply back with a link to the plug-in. I suspect it will be a situation where we make some customizations to the plug-in.

      • Thanks, Lee! Yes, please do let everyone know. If it’s good enough for toprank, it’s good enough for me.

  4. Damien Mahoney says:

    Good article Lee. Another emerging player in this space is http://stackla.com. They recently launched with the ICC for the Champions Trophy http://www.icc-cricket.com/championstrophy/fanzone/liveeveryball and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week – stackla.mbfashionweek.com

  5. Great post Lee, especially in terms of establishing the value of hubs.

    I conducted a workshop some weeks ago and advocated the use of social hubs. One participant asked me to defend my position, and I was unable to adequately do so, at least to my (and her) satisfaction. You’ve provided not only plenty of precedent from both B2C and B2B sectors (government too), but some talking points I can use to build a business case should the question ever come up again.

    Also, check out http://maersklinesocial.com, a social hub for the world’s largest container shipping company. Interestingly (and somewhat telling), Maersk leads with an explanation of why a shipping company uses social media.

  6. alexandria scott says:

    Thank you for giving us relevant and enough information that will surely help us with our online endeavor. Your insights and knowledge are also practical and timely. May you continue to share us your knowledge and your learning.