KLM Surprise – a discussable social media campaign…

When I first came across the KLM Surprise idea, I thought “cool customer service”, “very modern approach” and “nice use of a Social Media campaign”. It seems KLM engages in how to make their clients happy, how to understand personalized customer service of the future and how to use social media to reach out to their clients one step ahead.

On a second thought, clients could be overwhelmed in a negative way. The approach of the airline might be seen as “social media stal….”. Shall we really use this phrase? Is there some validity in it?

The idea implements all aspects and features of an advertising campaign, and the KLM claim for me seems to be: modern social advertising. Or as the brand puts it: KLM is “committing little acts of kindness because we wanted to discover how happiness spreads”.

Nothing bad about it in my eyes. I like the idea in some way…

Nevertheless, my question is: Is this modern social advertising approach going to far? Is it addressing too much the human characteristics of personality and individuality? Or is it just the modern way of personalized advertising? Some kind of the future of Social CRM?

Know what?! Let’s discuss it! Watch it and give us thoughts….

12 replies
  1. Anja
    Anja says:

    i agree, it does feel slightly creepy at first – but on second thought i think by using channels such as twitter, foursquare and such, i choose a fairly public life – so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find traces throughout the web of what i like or dislike – i posted them myself. so if KLM decides to make use of it – fine by me, after all, it was my own choice to pass on all that knowledge about myself.

    what i liked about the campaign was that they took “online life” into the “real world”.

  2. Martin Meyer-Gossner
    Martin Meyer-Gossner says:

    Interesting thoughts, Anja. And yes, if people decide to make their lives and preferences public, KLM uses those facts in a clever and meaningful way. As long as companies keep it personalized and have the power to keep it alive, then this would be innovative use of Social CRM to provide to customers.

  3. Anja
    Anja says:

    martin, absolutely, i agree! i also think that the fact that it’s ono-on-one makes it likable. in a way it’s similar to personalised advertising, but in my opinion it’s definetley preferable because it takes “personal” into the real world, making it REALLY personal 😉

  4. Reinhardt
    Reinhardt says:

    Before doing some Social Media Advertising, KLM should try to have an overall Social Media Stradegy including the implementation of SRM to make sure that feedback is guarenteed. Of course the booking-system on their homepage should work too (it often does not! #fail)!! That’s the basic requirement for doing an online business!!!

    Yesterday I’ve talked to an “KLM Heavey User” who is taking part in an internal KLM community to improve services especially in Social Media. His impression was: They don’t care about their consumers. On consequence is that he does not fly KLM anymore…

  5. Martin Meyer-Gossner
    Martin Meyer-Gossner says:

    WOW! This is interesting feedback, Reinhardt. As I am not flying with their airline too often, I cannot argue about it. But if KLM has a proper social media strategy, does some social media monitoring and don’t follow just the old campaign approach, they should react and comment here. I don’t know why I doubt they will… So, would the right approach be to ask you for the name of that person and then try to get into some personal conversation with you and him (instead of giving him a present maybe)?

  6. Reinhardt
    Reinhardt says:

    You are absolutly right! But I don’t think that they will react on this. As you mentioned before. If KLM does not listen they will never be able to learn und react in the right way. Let’s see if they will respond…

  7. Reinhardt
    Reinhardt says:

    Just look at the comments below the video:

    “Based on the comments, it’s clear that KLM has treated social media as a campaign and not as a channel for improving its relationships and being willing to fundamentally change the way they DO business.”


    There is no more to say!

  8. Amy
    Amy says:

    While I think that KLM did something cool and interesting, I think they missed some opportunities to extend their customer service past the end of the experiment. The Youtube video has over 60 comments, with about 10 of them being negative — and there’s not a KLM representative in sight.

    So sure they got a million impressions on Twitter. But what were people actually saying? Were customers freaked out by the “stalking”? Did KLM see a spike in people booking flights? Was the return on investment worth it?

    I don’t want to take up a bunch of space with my comment, but please check out the blog post I wrote about the KLM experiment, and where it fell flat:


  9. Martin Meyer-Gossner
    Martin Meyer-Gossner says:

    Well observed, Amy. In my eyes -and as you say- KLM missed the vision and ideology of Social Media. No comments on Twitter, none on YouTube, none here… If this is the future of social media in companies, then the question is who fails?! The consumer with all their engagement in social media while having minor impact or the companies… Maybe a different chapter in the future. I am sure consumers will win…


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