"From the moment we set up our social team, our focus has been creating an independent, integrated social team consisting of all disciplines rather than harken back to the silo-driven approach where you have social embedded into different functions - not seeing it as one." As the American Airlines team has expanded, three distinct functions all within one social media team have been created: customer service, customer insights, and customer engagement. For Pierce, this is about relationships. "The mandate is that a customer who comes to us for a transaction, be that at the airport looking for flight information, upgrade status, or whatever, is coming to us for something transactional related to their trip or their booking. We have an opportunity then to have a conversation with them. That conversation may become another conversation, which becomes a relationship. That transaction equals a follow, equals a like, equals that permission by the customer to allow us to carry on the brand conversation as well within the social environment." This thinking around relationships is a guiding ethos around the whole social media team: brand voice, hiring, team structure, training, and how the organization measures success. And it's not just for customers - the organization also brings this thinking to specialized communities of "aviation geeks" and employees. Get the full story at Social Media Today