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KLM and social media – how to become a social business

This week, I had the opportunity to attend the Engage 2013 conference in London, courtesy of Socialbakers. Among the top speakers, we got to listen to Lionel Lassalle, Social Marketing & Co-Branding Manager at KLM who talked about KLM’s journey to transform social users into customers.

KLM has been working actively with social media for quite some time, and the airline’s presence in social media jump started with the crisis management during the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in April 2010. It was not until then that the company really started to take advantage of social networks in communicating with customers.

“The ash cloud changed everything”, said Lassalle.

According to Lassalle, one of the key factors in becoming a social business is to be able to break down the silos and start to co-operate between different parts of the organisation. Also, for KLM, customer service is the backbone of the organisation in social media. The airline has the ambition to answer questions in social media within 1 hour and to solve customer service issues within 24 hours. Currently, KLM answers within 15 minutes (on average) and solves issues within 9 hours. Impressive.

The experience from the ash cloud crisis management led to the establishment of three principles that guide KLM in social networks.

KLM’s three leading social pricinciples:

  1. Service is sales
  2. Be cool to hang out with
  3. Don’t push, create stuff worth sharing

Social media can drive sales
One of the main take aways for me during the day was that we saw several examples where social media can actually drive sales. One project for KLM in the Netherlands increased sales with 30%. Also, Bruce Daisley of Twitter UK told us how sponsored campaigns on Twitter had shown that there can be a strong correlation between Twitter ads and sales. Some campaigns had been more than four times as effective as spending that additional amount on traditional advertising.

Becoming a social business
KLM has the ambition to be a social business and by relying less on stand-alone campaigns and working more with long term solutions, the airline has come a long way towards that goal. Here are a few more quotes about their social media strategy, from Lionel Lassalle’s presentation.

“We are connecting social media to our core business, which is flying.”

“We are heading to become a social business.”

“Social media is no longer a platform, it is integrated throughout the whole organisation.”

“From one side it makes our customer’s life easier, but it also constantly helps us to improve the quality of our service.”

And finally, about return on investment: “Is it worth the money? Hell, yeah!”

Below you can watch the entire presentation from Engage 2013.

Posted in Business, Case Studies.

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5 Responses

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  1. Ana Gaze says

    Interesting strategy by KLM. Let’s see if it really brings KLM to another level. And first of all, when they succeed, let’s see if they invest something on better quality service to their passengers!

  2. Diego says

    I think it’s all right what KLM does. Nowadays the competition on all fields is amazing. So focus on Social Media can be a change point where the business can really grow.

  3. Jenny Gregory says

    Social media is clearly an important tool if done correctly, its a powerful way to communicate. However whilst correlations in sales can be pointed to I do wonder how well its impact is actually measured in most businesses? If you have multiple marketing and sales channels you have got to be able to track what actually made the difference.

  4. Philip says

    A comparison between KLM and Ryanair’s response following the ash cloud would be an interesting comparison.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Är svenskarna inte redo för sponsrade tweets? « Sociala medier linked to this post on August 14, 2013

    […] Twitter var länge fritt från annonser men 2011 kunde man börja köpa “promoted tweets” som visades i timeline oavsett om man följde annonsören eller inte. Sådana förändringar kan vara kontroversiella, iallafall tills användarna vant sig. I Sverige har vi inte sett så många lokala sponsrade tweets, men till exempel Svenskt Näringsliv har använt sig av både sponsrade tweets och “trending topics”. Enligt både KLM och Twitter själva så är annonsering på Twitter förhållandevis effektivt. […]



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