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Did you hear about the SMDallas tour of the Southwest Airlines Social Command Center? We “luv”ed it! The Social Business team gave us a special “behind the scenes” tour and explained:

  • Team structure and daily tasks
  • Public social media case studies
  • Social Command Center tour

Located in the heart of the HQ building, command center employees use state of the art listening systems from the Salesforce Marketing Cloud, (formerly Radian 6) to scout the internet for conversation related to Southwest Airlines. They use Lithium’s Aspect workflow management application to assign and track the social media communications.

Social NOC SWA

Southwest Airlines Social Command Center. Photo: Stephanie Weeks

The command center screens show live news feeds, a waterfall of recent posts, word clouds to show trends, and even real-time sentiment information that answers the question: how happy are the customer conversations? SWA isn’t just dabbling in social customer service and marketing. The 35-person team is tasked with providing support whenever Southwest is flying, and with answering customer on-line queries within 15 minutes.

In addition to listening and responding, the social business team proactively develops engaging content to generate conversation, focusing on Twitter, Instagram and Vine. They make use of Twitter cards to drive traffic and even sales to their website.

As our SWA host Derek K Hubbard says, the challenge is “feeding the content beast.” The Social Business team develops light-hearted Twitter posts that touch on trending topics, such as suggestions for naming Kim Kardashian & Kanye West’s baby.

twitter says name Kanye West baby Southwest


More involved content development relates to human interest stories, such as how 5-year-old Hudson got to meet his hero, an airplane pilot who waived to him.

The Social Business team heard about the special moment, and used good old-fashioned detective work to track down the pilot and arrange a special meeting.


My top three takeaways:

The Social Command Center employees are fully trained customer service representatives, with access to the same tools as a telephone representative. They can handle complaints and even re-book customer tickets. So when you tweet on-line, someone who can actually solve your problem is responding.

Secondly, although the internet is loaded with employees who love to talk about Southwest, there isn’t a formal employee advocacy program. Those fabulous Instagram accounts like GulfStreamGuy have arisen organically. That speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

Finally, there’s a lot of positive sentiment about Southwest Airlines. Of course air travel can be challenging, but it’s touching to see how bonded customers are with SWA. Grab a hanky, and check out the heartfelt stories on the blog “Nuts About Southwest.”

Thanks to the Social Business team at Southwest Airlines for the A+ tour. We’re nuts about you, too!