Creating uniqueness: KLM airlines

The digital age and the rise of social media has increased the visibility of brands and hence competition for reputation.

As I mentioned in my post Why reputations matter, reputation is built on respect and trust which creates competitive advantage.

Attracting customers to products or services, employees to jobs and investors to the brand’s securities create a favourable reputation that improves a company’s profitability and enhances its chances of surviving. It is derived from a brand’s uniqueness.

My uni colleague, Sarah Hanniffy, shared a great article that highlights the importance of exploring the different uses of social media platforms but brands to achieve different needs. There is no such thing as “one-size-fits-all strategy” for building a brand’s reputation. As such, the next few blog posts will be dedicated to a number of brands that have successfully harnessed the power of social media.

Today BRW covered an example of a social media campaign tapping into the ways customers communicate in order to build rapport and differentiation.

The brief:
Dutch airline, KLM aimed to create brand uniqueness in an industry known for uninspiring passengers.

They wanted to transform boredom into happiness and engage with customers to make them feel special.

The response:
KLM went out of their way to be more approachable by undertaking a social media campaign to engage with their passengers. This involved tracking down passengers waiting to board flights and presenting them with small gifts to thank them for using Facebook, Twitter or Foursquare to indicate they were travelling with KLM. The passenger’s social media presence was then analysed by KLM to work out an appropriate ‘small gift’. The campaign was run over a few weeks.

The results:

  • KLM airlines received over 1m tweets during the campaign period as word spread
  • They received 17, 528 followers on Foursquare
  • Twitter following reached 2.6m
  • Received over 250,000 views on YouTube

Key learnings:
Shifting ways of brand to customer communication to understanding customers and the way they communicate with them to personalise experiences and differentiate their brand.

This has not only included engaging with customers / passengers in new, creative and memorable ways, but also using social media platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook profiles as business networking tools. The program, ‘Meet and Seat’ allow passengers to request to be seated next to a person as an opportunity to network.

What do you think of this campaign?

[edits. 25, September 2012]

The airlines are so across their social media, they’ve engaged with me within 12 hours of posting a tweet about them!


4 thoughts on “Creating uniqueness: KLM airlines

  1. That’s a really interesting campaign and an innovative way to approach an audiences. I think airlines in particular have their reputations questioned a great deal not only on social media but in general, and any approach such as this to make them memorable and ‘outside of the box’ is a brilliant marketing move. Again I agree social media is only effective when applied with particular thought towards the brand and audience and I think this is a really good example.

    • Thanks for the comment Sarah. Whilst I think this campaign would have been a pain to execute (I would hate to be the KLM rep running after customers in the airport), I agree that thinking ‘outside the box’ is a crucial element in creating a memorable campaign.

  2. I really like this example Alicia. It definitely shows how consumer involvement generates awareness and followers. KLM were definitely clever when using an aspect of social media (checking in) – something that people do all the time, almost encouraging their use of various social media platforms. It definitely shows that campaigns are going ‘back to basics’, trying to find innovative and unique options of grasping audience’s attention.

    I also love the tweet inclusion – Its great to see they appreciate consumer feedback 🙂 !

  3. What a surprise! I have heard of Flight carriers using social media for people to check in and allowing passengers to choose who they would like to sit next to based on their profile linked to Facebook, but this campaign just takes it to a whole new level. I think what surprises me the most is how it gives me that warm and fuzzy feeling, that KLM actually cares for their passengers. They’re right when they say that seeing a smile is worth so much more than a smiley face online! Well done KLM!


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