Social media case study: KLM Royal Dutch Airlines

Social media campaigns are absolutely everywhere now. Seldom that original, and often poorly executed, the space is becoming so turgid with a mix of good, bad, ugly and downright embarrassing examples of campaigns that it’s becoming harder to stand out from the crowd.

But as with everything, there are a few shining stars in the ether, and one of those in the social media space is KLM Royal Dutch Airlines. Granted, they are incredibly vocal and they are never not doing something, but there are 3 campaigns in particular that stand out for me from KLM that deserve some recognition.

KLM Surprise

First up is the KLM Surprise campaign. KLM wanted to reach out to KLM passengers in the real world to reward them for flying with KLM. They monitored check-ins on Foursquare at KLM locations and did some social media monitoring to find the people that mentioned KLM in their check-in. When they had a picture of who the person was, their activities, interests and personalities, they hunted them down, bought them a small gift,  and gave it to them as they waited for their flight.

This campaign really punched above its weight for a few reasons. The numbers paint the first picture: 1 million impressions on Twitter alone came from the few weeks of gifting. The shady area of impression analysis aside, that’s a pretty major number and one to shout about (which they do indeed do). The other side, and the real gem here, is their insight in taking the offline conversation back into the real world, albeit briefly, and managing to turn an average day in a few customers lives into a pretty awesome day that they felt the need to share. Brands these days are so hung up on the digital conversation that they often forget the power of the offline element too.

Tile & Inspire

The Tile & Inspire campaign is another great example of KLM both engaging their fans but also re-affirming their Dutch brand identity in one fell swoop. Using a Facebook app, fans could upload a photo of themselves that would be made up in the style of a delft tile and entered with a chance of being painted onto a real Boeing 777-200.

In doing this, KLM sent out a very clear message to their fans: we’re serious about you. We want to have our customers woven into the fabric of our brand, and we’re excited about a future where our customers shape how the world perceives us. It’s an important lesson – if a brand is not sincere in their involvement of their customers then they won’t reap the rewards that they are after.

Live Tweet

The Live Tweet campaign took a bunch of KLM employees (140 to be precise) and used them as a ‘live’ tweeting medium for a single day. Each person had a character, and they were used to spell out tweets as replies to the tweets that KLM were receiving.

Yes there will be those that are screaming that they are just re-hashing the work of W+K on the Old Spice campaign, and yes there is some cross over, but it was executed pretty well. The purpose of this campaign was to highlight their social media services – to let people know that there are people on the other end of Facebook and Twitter 24/7 waiting to help out. It’s just another example of how KLM is telling their customers that they are invested in being as accessible and helpful as they can be, and social media is one of the best ways that this can happen.

You can pretty much sum up KLM’s ideas on how important their social media audience is with this advert; drawing a parallel between football fans and the passion inherent in supporting a team with an airline is an unusual association to create, but with the hyperbole aside, it’s one they seem to believe in none the less.