Barrier 1: Hiring the right people In an interview with Jonathan Pierce, director of social media at American Airlines last year, finding the right people was a major challenge. In spite of the fact that there is no shortage of qualified candidates applying for social media jobs, this remains an issue. The challenge, he says, is hiring successful people that have the right breadth and flexibility to understand social media and the importance of customer service, people who can think on the spot, are collaborative, can react efficiently and so on. “That’s a tall order,” says Pierce. On the plus side, American has a strong team, which is helped by a dedicated training programme of up to six weeks, which spans a range of topics that help employees to become the face of the brand. Barrier 2: Existing technology infrastructure Every company is unique but the big question, says Pierce is, “how do you join up social data which is very free form and very unique is constantly evolving comp with existing technology infrastructure and the type of data you have there”. Barrier 3: Competing priorities Every business has many demands and requirements for investment. For social media teams, the challenge is getting social high up on that list for investment. So the role of the social media team today is changing. It’s not just about managing a customer service channel, its about proving the worth and value of social to the business. “What is needed is people who can have strategic conversations with management as well as folks who can fill day to day customer tasks,” says Pierce. This isn’t easy as it means competing against investment for legacy systems which have proven revenue benefit. “Social doesn’t have that same revenue output so it requires understanding from stakeholders internally that this is not just a channel but a strategic change in how customers do business with the brand,” explains Pierce. This is an important barrier to integration and can’t happen over night. Get the full story at EyeForTravel Read also "Connecting the dots: American Airlines steps up social integration" at EyeForTravel