Content brand of the week: KLM, the high-flying content brand

Kyle M? Who is this mystery man?

KLM you nitwit. It stands for Koninklijke Luchtvaart Maatschappij, or ‘Royal Dutch Airlines’. They’re an airline. A Dutch one. Obviously.

Oh right, wasn’t that the brand that lied about employing puppies?

Yes, KLM created an ad about an adorable pup that found and returned lost items for passengers. And yes, the brand then crushed people’s souls when it was revealed to be nothing but a marketing stunt.


It certainly succeeding in grabbing people’s attention – although it may not have raised trust in the brand. KLM already has some controversial baggage to bear – you might remember this back in the heady days of the World Cup?

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KLM tweeted a rather stereotypical tweet about Mexico that offended a LOT of people, including A-list superstar Gael Garcia Bernal. The airline has since apologised, but we’re guessing GBB won’t be taking a trip with them again.

Sounds like the marketing team are flying by the seat of their pants! What have these risk takers got right?

Well, KLM is the most popular airline we found on Facebook with more than 7 million likes. Its popularity is largely down to using Facebook to its best potential to serve customers. 130 social media agents answer around 35,000 requests a week. But here’s the really innovative part – since February 2014, customers have actually been able to pay through Twitter and Facebook. A payment link can be sent in a private message on either network. The customer can choose how to pay. The social media service agent at KLM receives a message to say payment has been received and in turn sends a confirmation.

Check that out! Or should I say ‘in’?

This one-to-one service provides convenience to the customer as well as making them more receptive to receiving KLM’s publicly broadcasted messages. KLM also makes excellent use of Facebook and Twitter’s ‘header images’ to drive home how effective its social customer service is. Each graphic shows how long until you can expect a response, and claims to be updated every 5 minutes. The customer services team also makes sure to mention that they can answer questions in 10 different languages. On Facebook there’s even a response time app.

So what are those messages that KLM is sending out?

The brand often posts links to its blog, which has four distinct categories: travelling the world, behind the scenes, people at KLM and lifestyle: music and sports.

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There’s no hard sell here then!

Exactly, KLM goes beyond its niche, identifying other things that are important to its customers. Giving away insider information is a chance for the brand to show that it really operates according to its brand values, and dedicating a category to it’s staff shows this brand cares about its people.

And is the blog its main channel?

No, KLM goes way beyond blogging with its gorgeous digital magazine, iFly.

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This was one of the first ‘digital magazine’ style sites to hit the web, and it’s still going strong. Every beautifully illustrated article allows you to click through and book your own trip through KLM. The content is rich and heavily visual, with embedded videos interspersed between themed photographic stories. The still above is from a story on the indigenous wildlife of Madagascar.

Does the story also mention this guy?

No, but here’s my final bit of redeeming brand activity from KLM. In 2011, KLM showed how much it listens to customers when a Dutch filmmaker and DJ tweeted their disappointment about the temporary closure of the Amsterdam-Miami route. The route was due to re-open on March 27th, but this meant Dutch house fans would miss the opportunity to fly direct to Ultra music festival. A KLM rep rapidly responded with a challenge: if the pair gathered 150 pre-registrations within seven days, the plane would fly. Within five hours, they had achieved this and on March 21st a flight packed with DJs, producer, promoters and fans took off from Amsterdam, accompanied by a house soundtrack at the airport.

So KLM is attuned to the needs of jetsetting house DJs, but what about the little guy?

Well everyone loves getting a (nice) response from a brand or business over social right?  Well KLM took this one step further in 2010. Through its ‘KLM Surprise’ campaign, the social team identified KLM passengers waiting for flights on Twitter. They researched the profile to find out more about their personality and destination, and gave the unsuspecting passengers a surprise gift before boarding the flight.

It’s a wonder KLM’s social channels don’t get clogged up!

Where next?
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More from Rebecca Wilson
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