5 years ago

Actions speak louder than tweets – a change in thinking from airlines with Twitter

Buried at the end of a promotional video for Dutch airline KLM just before Christmas was the following slogan:

“We believe actions speak louder than tweets.”

The clip (90,000-odd views and counting) was created to show off its cuddlier side again, similar to the widely praised KLM Surprise initiative, giving unsuspecting passengers a free upgrade and a Christmas present.

Cute videos aside, airline marketers – especially those obsessed with pumping out tweet after tweet – should probably take note of the carrier’s stance with its Twitter strategy.

In other words: Twitter appears to be far less important to KLM than good old fashioned offline customer service promos and Facebook.

In December 2012, KLM sent out roughly one tweet a day. Compare this to Delta, for example, which in March last year was found to have posted 4,600 tweets over the course of the month, although the vast majority came from its DeltaAssist account.

Perhaps, as Simpliflying suggested last week (Social media is dead – airline marketing in 2013 all about connected travellers and the real world), airlines are moving beyond the message blasting of old on Twitter to something more engaging and, well, useful.

Of course, Twitter serves a unique and valuable purpose when dealing with crises or urgent customer service if an airline experiences a hefty set of delays (inevitable European snow delays, for example), but its usefulness as a general marketing tool appears to be evolving.

The opportunity to engage with airline customers (potential and existing) on Twitter is arguably, after all, rather limited – yes, you can say something meaningful in 140 characters, but it often appears rather dull to the 99.99% of other followers.

Indeed, what can be less interesting to followers than seeing an airline profile tweeting variations of “Thanks! We hope you have an awesome trip” 30 times a day.

So is KLM’s message a bit of a poke at its rivals? A little bit.

The reality is that “actions” are not just about surprising passengers in terminals with gifts and the lure of comfortable seats and champagne.

“Action”, in the world of social-led marketing, is probably about community, regardless of whether it is off or online – something that Facebook can excel at as Twitter seemingly just continues to add to the digital noise of the web.

KLM and other airlines are clearly thinking very carefully about how they use Facebook beyond it just being a longer form of Twitter – thankfully.

Promotions, competitions, content and games are where real engagement with customers (fans) inevitably materialises, so perhaps we can expect to see an increased focus on Facebook, and Twitter therefore consigned to just another customer service channel in the future?

For what it’s worth, KLM has 2.5 million fans on Facebook while tweet-crazy Delta has 500,000.

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Kevin May

About the Writer :: Kevin May

Kevin May was a co-founder and member of the editorial team from September 2009 to June 2017.



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  1. Ryan C Haynes

    KLM-AirFrance Facebook strategy has been great from the word go – especially in the English speaking markets. They really understand what the traveller wants, but more importantly who their traveller is. As proved by Delta (and when I spend time assessing 5 accounts), Twitter is more Spam than it is real value information. I can’t say the same for FB, as it is always a joy to read…on the most part…

  2. Steve Busch

    While followers might not appreciate reading “thanks” 30 times a day, the person who is being thanked does appreciate it.


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