KLM’s social media strategy – Part 4

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Part 4 : Roadmap and Strategy

KLM has been active in social media since late 2009. Ever since, people have been asking us about our social media strategy. In this fourth and final part of our blog series, we take a look at where we’re heading.

2009 was the year of orientation. In 2010 we continued to set up accounts, experiment and further explore the social landscape. In 2011 we focused on growing, learning and putting governance into place. And our efforts started to pay off. On 31 January 2012, we reached a milestone with one million likes on our global Facebook page. At the time of this writing, we have over 1.7 million.

2012 is dedicated to turning our growth and the lessons we’ve learned into business, knowing that the expectations we created are now the new standard. This year, we aim to strengthen our leading position in social media and set an example for the airline industry. We plan to further integrate social media into our business model and have done scientific research with university students. Meanwhile, we are keeping a close eye on opportunities, and discovering new social networks such as Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. KLM is also active on LinkedIn.

Our social media strategy is based on three pillars: Reputation, Service and Commerce. Reputation includes brand awareness, issue management, tone of voice and sharing engaging content. Service is all about providing a personal and accessible one-stop-shop in social media. The latest add-on to this was a pilot study in which we uploaded relevant passenger information from our social conversations to KLM iPads that a number of pursers were carrying. This gave our crews the opportunity to offer their passengers a more personal touch. Of course, we always respect passenger privacy.

Commerce is the more challenging component of our strategy. Few companies have successfully derived revenue from social media, but we aim to be among those that do. We can do that by working efficiently. For instance, if we answer one question publicly, we answer it for everyone with the same question. As a result, we get fewer calls to answer. Another return on investment is improved online sentiment and an increase in brand ambassadors. What’s more, we are equipped to sell tickets and measure all conversion to our website. We have introduced the social services “Meet & Seat” and “Trip Planner” and launched the Twitter bots @KLMflights and @KLMfares. Recently, we announced a pilot study of WiFi on board – quite a challenge when crossing multiple borders or oceans. First metrics prove that we are on track. You might think that the importance of social media to KLM will make us forget about other forms of communication. Don’t worry, we’ll continue to answer the phone.

Technology is developing faster than most of us can keep up with. By making you the centre of our attention, we are trying to help develop the social media revolution to its full potential. We hope it will make your flight an experience worth sharing. I love my job and am proud to be part of the team!

Part 1 : Early Efforts and the Ash Cloud
Part 2 : The Social Media Hub
Part 3 : Campaigns

22 Responses to KLM’s social media strategy – Part 4

  1. Loek Landzaat

    Looking at the sentence “if we answer one question publicly, we answer it for everyone with the same question”, what about creating a system that allows users to search within the vast amount of conversations you had on SM? That way they might find their answer via replies to similar questions already answerred instead of having to pose their question themselves. The amount (and relevancy) of information will also increase as more (recent) conversations are added. Since I do not think that people with the same question will have it at the same time. That being said, of course answers may vary over time (which means maintenance of data) & lazy people will ask them anyways ;-).  

    • Max

      Just to add to @twitter-111299762:disqus comments, a simple solution on twitter for example, would be to make the the most common answered questions (with answers of course) ‘favorites’. 

  2. Loek Landzaat

    Looking at the sentence “if we answer one question publicly, we answer it for everyone with the same question”, what about creating a system that allows users to search within the vast amount of conversations you had on SM? That way they might find their answer via replies to similar questions already answerred instead of having to pose their question themselves. The amount (and relevancy) of information will also increase as more (recent) conversations are added. Since I do not think that people with the same question will have it at the same time. That being said, of course answers may vary over time (which means maintenance of data) & lazy people will ask them anyways ;-).  

    • Max

      Just to add to @twitter-111299762:disqus comments, a simple solution on twitter for example, would be to make the the most common answered questions (with answers of course) ‘favorites’. 

  3. John O'Nolan

    Really fascinating series – thank you for writing it up. I have one question, however. As (arguably) the world’s most successful airline when it comes to “getting” social media and doing it right… why is the *only* way to opt out of Flying Blue newsletters to cancel your frequent flyer membership? There is physically no way for me to be a KLM frequent flyer without getting my inbox spammed to death. I find this mind-bogglingly bizarre given everything written in these 4 posts which is so very spot-on!

    • KLM

      Hello John, we’d recommend you to post this question on our Facebook wall or to send us a tweet. On these channels we are best equipped to answer properly.

  4. John O'Nolan

    Really fascinating series – thank you for writing it up. I have one question, however. As (arguably) the world’s most successful airline when it comes to “getting” social media and doing it right… why is the *only* way to opt out of Flying Blue newsletters to cancel your frequent flyer membership? There is physically no way for me to be a KLM frequent flyer without getting my inbox spammed to death. I find this mind-bogglingly bizarre given everything written in these 4 posts which is so very spot-on!

    • KLM

      Hello John, we’d recommend you to post this question on our Facebook wall or to send us a tweet. On these channels we are best equipped to answer properly.

  5. Lilla Farkas

    Indeed when one looks at KLM’s presence on social media channels, KLM is certainly a great player in the airline industry. This leads to the obvious point that social media strategy goes beyond promotional campaigns.
    So when talking about social media strategy I would like to invite you to share the public part of the actual strategy: What are KLM’s goals via the social media channel and how has the relationship developed between SM and corporate objectives since 2009?
    Furthermore, it would be interesting to read about how KLM defines tangible success for SM. Do you have any actual metrics to measure and report on? Have you managed to devise a method to measure incremental revenue purely attributable to SM activities?

    • KLM

      Thanks for your comment Lilla. What we have shared here is in fact the public part of our strategy. Thanks for your understanding.

  6. Lilla Farkas

    Indeed when one looks at KLM’s presence on social media channels, KLM is certainly a great player in the airline industry. This leads to the obvious point that social media strategy goes beyond promotional campaigns.
    So when talking about social media strategy I would like to invite you to share the public part of the actual strategy: What are KLM’s goals via the social media channel and how has the relationship developed between SM and corporate objectives since 2009?
    Furthermore, it would be interesting to read about how KLM defines tangible success for SM. Do you have any actual metrics to measure and report on? Have you managed to devise a method to measure incremental revenue purely attributable to SM activities?

    • KLM

      Thanks for your comment Lilla. What we have shared here is in fact the public part of our strategy. Thank you for understanding.

  7. Einstein X

    Stream lining your social media is surely well presented in this blog. However, since KLM has to make a 1.1 billion EUR cut back in 2012, freezing the salaries of your personnel and at best not having to let employees go, I wonder if employing some fifty odd people to write a few tweets and fill your Facebook’s time line, is such a good think. At a modal income of 33.000 EUR/year in the Netherlands, fifty tweeting employees equals 1.65 million EUR. So if KLM would stop to pursue being the market leader in social communication, KLM would have to make a cut back of less than a billion EUR. More interestingly, I think that if the people who engage with KLM on social media were given the choice between a strong social media presence of KLM versus cheaper tickets, the price of their holiday ticket will always win.

    • Max

      @google-fc6b2859dbc3b2dd8ece998aeca2ebf9:disqus There’s more to flying a plane than a cheap flight. Look at Ryanair and you’ll see that customers are dissatified in spite of receiving the cheapest air fare. And how do you know how many out of the fifty people involved are working full-time? KLM as a service company which operates 24/7 have no choice to employ a large workforce in this arena. If you look at other airlines who have attempted social crm, they don’t get back to you in realtime-that’s the critical factor (and IMO creates loyalty which trumps price).

    • Tia_trussardi

      @Einstein – firstly, your maths are wrong. A billion is a thousand million, so 1.1 billion is 1,100,000,000. A saving of 1,650,000 will not make as big of a difference as you seem to think, and certainly won’t reduce the cutbacks to under a billion.

      Secondly, KLM has to market somehow. This social media strategy could prove to be more cost-effective than e.g. costly print advertising, which could mean it is money well spent overall.

  8. Einstein X

    Stream lining your social media is surely well presented in this blog. However, since KLM has to make a 1.1 billion EUR cut back in 2012, freezing the salaries of your personnel and at best not having to let employees go, I wonder if employing some fifty odd people to write a few tweets and fill your Facebook’s time line, is such a good think. At a modal income of 33.000 EUR/year in the Netherlands, fifty tweeting employees equals 1.65 million EUR. So if KLM would stop to pursue being the market leader in social communication, KLM would have to make a cut back of less than a billion EUR. More interestingly, I think that if the people who engage with KLM on social media were given the choice between a strong social media presence of KLM versus cheaper tickets, the price of their holiday ticket will always win.

    • Max

      @google-fc6b2859dbc3b2dd8ece998aeca2ebf9:disqus There’s more to flying a plane than a cheap flight. Look at Ryanair and you’ll see that customers are dissatified in spite of receiving the cheapest air fare. And how do you know how many out of the fifty people involved are working full-time? KLM as a service company which operates 24/7 have no choice to employ a large workforce in this arena. If you look at other airlines who have attempted social crm, they don’t get back to you in realtime-that’s the critical factor (and IMO creates loyalty which trumps price).

    • Tia_trussardi

      @Einstein – firstly, your maths are wrong. A billion is a thousand million, so 1.1 billion is 1,100,000,000. A saving of 1,650,000 will not make as big of a difference as you seem to think, and certainly won’t reduce the cutbacks to under a billion.

      Secondly, KLM has to market somehow. This social media strategy could prove to be more cost-effective than e.g. costly print advertising, which could mean it is money well spent overall.

  9. ROOTvgNET

    I have not read all four blogs, although I do remember an extended stay in Texas waiting for the ash to settle.
    As a frequent flyer (two to three trips per month) I know that things happen, and I very much value the availability of people who are listening and “enabled” to get things fixed. MUCH better than hanging on a phone, long distance, talking to someone who can say little more than “so sorry”.
    IMHO – your accessibility is one of the things that keeps KLM my preferred airline. If my company would change its policy and require me to travel on “thrift” airlines, I would quit my current position.

    (New topic: This is a reply to the reply about price as king – service is king and queen!)

  10. ROOTvgNET

    I have not read all four blogs, although I do remember an extended stay in Texas waiting for the ash to settle.
    As a frequent flyer (two to three trips per month) I know that things happen, and I very much value the availability of people who are listening and “enabled” to get things fixed. MUCH better than hanging on a phone, long distance, talking to someone who can say little more than “so sorry”.
    IMHO – your accessibility is one of the things that keeps KLM my preferred airline. If my company would change its policy and require me to travel on “thrift” airlines, I would quit my current position.

    (New topic: This is a reply to the reply about price as king – service is king and queen!)

  11. Anonymous

    A fellow colleague informed me of your real-time response via social media on a recent trip they took and as someone who works in the social space I’m truly impressed.  Tracked down this great story and couldn’t agree more.  Well said, even better – well played.  Keep up the good work and hopefully we’ll all continue to learn.

  12. scottj_intel

    A fellow colleague informed me of your real-time response via social media on a recent trip they took and as someone who works in the social space I’m truly impressed.  Tracked down this great story and couldn’t agree more.  Well said, even better – well played.  Keep up the good work and hopefully we’ll all continue to learn.

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