It is not something I do often, review and give opinion on a company’s approach to social media in a feature article however KLM has grabbed my eye and I couldn’t resist sharing the story of KLM, the airline company which has truly embraced social media, grabbed it and made it their own in a way that no other has done so yet, not just in the airline industry but all across the board.
KLM has been such a huge success on social media for the simple reason that they are not afraid of failure, if we are to learn from any company it is KLM.
KLM is the flagship airline carrier of the Netherlands, it operates scheduled passenger and cargo services to more than 90 destinations worldwide. It is the oldest airline in the world still operating under the name it was given when it was founded in 1919.
Their social media strategy is built around the company website and six other platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Google+, their blog and also Foursquare and Pinterest. Over the past few years they have launched social media campaigns both big and small, some of which have had incredible success stories, here are some of the ones that have made waves with customers and followers alike.
Without a doubt an airline industry first, this story began which a Dutch filmmaker tweeted how he was disappointed that there was no direct flight from Amsterdam to Miami. He wanted a hangover reducing direct flight to and from the Ultra Music Festival on March 21st, 2011.
KLM responded with a wager, if he could book all 351 seats on the flight before December 6th then KLM would add the flight to its schedule. The Fly2Miami campaign sold the entire flight out in just 5 hours of opening. VP of e-commerce at KLM, Martijn van der Zee said,
“We can rightly call it a first – the first time KLM deployed an aircraft following a request on Twitter, Social media are becoming more and more important to KLM to offer information and service to our customers.”
In this case, KLM seized an opportunity at great risk that very few other airlines would have taken at all and the dividends it paid off with was huge. It generated a buzz and an interest while massively raising the profile of KLM and showing they truly do listen to their customers on social media.
Must See Maps:
KLM Must See Map was a friend sourced destination map that combined both social and print media. Users create a map for a destination and ask friends for travel tips via their social media accounts and email.
Facebook check-ins show you which of your friends have already visited the location, their tips on favourite places and what to see and do in the area are also displayed. You can add your tips and then order a copy of the map to be printed and sent to you. So it is a personalised map of where you are going unlike any map you may buy in a store when you get there.
The project is up and running in 24 countries and the benefit to KLM is that they can expand their email database globally and thus have further reach that what they had before. KLM digital director, Viktor van der Wijk says that this was the overall goal of the company, and while they were expanding their email database they are also providing their customers with a really good service. Very cool.
Meet And Seat:
The meet and seat campaign was launched with the objective of allowing people to establish connections to new people who were on their flights through the power of social media. If passengers decided to participate, they could link their purchase of tickets to either LinkedIn or Facebook.
By doing this passengers were essentially sharing their check in information meaning you could end up speaking to someone who had an impressive profile on social media instead of spending the flight sat next to a random passenger and taking your chances that they are not slightly aloof.
Easily my favourite campaign to date, we all like it when companies reply to us on social media, especially when it is prompt and feels somewhat personal. Well KLM brought that to a while new level with their surprise campaign, they decided to find people who were checking in for flights on Foursquare or for people tweeting about getting a KLM flight that day.
When they found someone, they would research the profile a bit and then buy a personal gift for that passenger which they would give to them before they boarded the flight. The aim was to surprise passengers, give them a bit of joy and to break the sometimes mundane monotony of air travel.
It is the coolest social media experiment I have heard of so far and kudos to KLM for executing it so well, they even made a video about it too.
The final mention has to go to their social care. Have you been on their Twitter page recently? If not then go and check it out, https://twitter.com/KLM . Check out the banner at the top of the profile page, it is displaying the wait time for them to respond on average to people who are tweeting them, and it is updated every 5 minutes.
There is nothing worse than tweeting a company and then waiting ages and ages for a reply, they are busy of course so who knows when they could get to you! Well KLM is giving an indication on how long it could be before you receive a response which is really neat.
Why are they top of the game then? Simply because they have rocked social media to the core over the past few years, they understand it requires an element of risk to stand out from the crowd. They are converting likes into paying customers because of the risk they take, sometimes it works and sometimes it does not. But when it works, it works well.
They embrace customers on social media and they get the job done professionally and in style. Every day they bolster their brand and they increase the customer base through the power of social media.
What do you think of their social media strategy? Would it win you over?