Social Media Strategy

KLM’s Social Flight of Fancy

Let’s face it, we’re in an industry that consumes case studies like a daily farmer’s market special – we want them fresh, ripe off the tree, and filled with juice. We crave details and behind-the-scenes content as we navigate a rapidly changing landscape. So when we see a substantial and comprehensive case study from the likes of a brand giant we get excited to know more about their social efforts, the challenges they face and the key components that have made them successful (or not).

We also do a fair amount of work in the travel industry and so when we saw a series of recent blog posts from Dutch airline KLM detailing its social media strategy we could not pass up the opportunity to review it here.

The blog post series itself is an amazing read and follows a similar storyline that resonates with many in the industry. Yes, their social media efforts started small and with a core team of people, some of whom report sitting at home with their smartphones checking Twitter and Facebook accounts at night. It’s a common refrain.

There are many things we appreciate about KLM’s social media strategy that serve as a best practice for the industry. One of the key pillars of their success is internal alignment; they term it “cooperation,” the coming together of disparate functions. This ensures that their social presence is indeed holistic and spans everything from the brand to the customer travel experience. Strategically they’ve aligned their efforts under three pillars: Service, Reputation and Commerce. For a travel brand these represent the three most important areas of the business impacted by social.

I have personally long appreciated KLM’s creative social brand campaigns and have been repeatedly impressed by the engagement they are able to drive. Sure, KLM has a global footprint – who doesn’t recognize their gorgeous blue planes? – but for a brand that many consumers have probably not actively experienced themselves, they have established a strong track record for engaging innovation.

For example, take their Meet & Seat campaign. This is a first-of-its-kind tool that allows travelers to connect their Facebook or LinkedIn profile to a travel booking, allowing you to – quite literally – see in advance who will be sitting beside you. Or their Tile & Inspire campaign, in which they wallpapered one of their aircraft with the images of consumers who had uploaded blue portraits of themselves via KLM’s social channels, resulting in 4000 consumer portraits on the sides, top and bottom of a Boeing 777-200.

In all, KLM counts more than 1.7 million people among its fans on Facebook and has an engagement rate – 3.5% – that’s higher than those of other popular brands including Nike, Gatorade, Virgin America and Pampers.

KLM has come a long, long way from the social fledgling it was in 2009 and has evolved into a social leader in the travel industry. We’re excited to see what they do next and are looking forward to our first opportunity to experience their Meet & Seat feature.

Read all about their detailed social strategy in parts 1 (history), 2 (the operations, Social Media Hub), 3 (campaigns) and 4 (strategy) on their blog. It’s filled with fantastic insights and inspiring videos, and we’re excited to see what the next installment will bring.