On my commute back from office last night, I noticed few odd and alarming tweets. Allow me to quickly present my case:
Bridget Carey, from CNET was tweeting in ALL CAPS!!
And Nilay Patel had this
Taco Bell story? Some die-hards were flipping out!
Like any self-respecting digital marketer, I figured I had to be on top of this recent development. So I went to Taco Bell’s twitter. Then to their Instagram feed. Then to their Facebook page. And finally to their Google+ page as well. This is a collection of what I saw.
As it turned out, Taco Bell launched a new mobile app but rather than going on a social media frenzy, and buying up all possible hashtags, the digitally savvy brand did the exact opposite. It blacked out and went silent across all of their social presence channels. Even the website, which had products and corporate/brand information, wasn’t spared either to promote the new app. Content on the company’s Facebook was deleted and all images blacked out. On Instagram, Taco Bell released a series of black and white text-based images with the hashtag #onlyintheapp. For a brand that has over 10 million fans on Facebook, this move can clearly be described as ballsy, one which most marketers will lose weeks of sleep over.
The silence was urging fans to download the app directly. Normally, a brand would go all out on its social and web channels to promote a new launch. For something like an app, the focus clearly would have been more on mobile marketing, and a typical brand would have done one, two or all the three below:
1) Running a CPD campaign to promote downloads on mobile ad networks. Off late, this has been a very popular form of promotion on Facebook and Twitter native apps as well
2) Buying display and text inventory across major networks, trying to push app functionality
3) Bid for related keywords on search engines and then hope for CPC traffic
Taco Bell, to the best of my knowledge, has done nothing of the above. This is obviously not to indicate that the above-mentioned methods are not effective. Thousands of apps employ those strategies every day, and do it with great success.
Taco Bell has done things differently while creating enormous amount of buzz and earned impressions. The App Annie chart below looks at the Taco Bell “Live Mas” app’s rank history over the past month, for Apple iOS. Notice the spike in the end. The chart shows that for the Food & Drink category, the app moved from its usual spot from around 60 to become number one for that category, in the US. Amazingly, It also became 24th most popular app in the US on the launch day. Next day, it climbed up to rank #22.
The hour-by-hour report is even more incredible. It starts with the app ranked 1,379 overall in the US as of 2am PT, October 28. By 1pm — it had shot to become the 24th most popular app. The app is not yet listed on the iTunes most popular free apps chart as it is updated on a weekly basis.
Besides the number of downloads, the post-download behaviour/interaction is vital. Everybody in the business knows that its easy to make users download apps, its far more tougher to make them use it everyday, every week, once every month or heck, even once after the first trial.
It won’t be the brilliant promotion strategy that would make users come back, but the app itself, and the UX it offers. Taco Bell covered that with the option of ordering mobile app only products on the app. They are also offering mobile payment, which is apparently the first for the industry. Moreover, in stores, there will be a separate pick-up line for app orders.
Taco Bell is known for its progressive and clever social media strategy, including being an early mover on Instagram, Snapchat, Vine, Tumblr, Pinterest, Hyperlapse among others. While it initially seemed like Taco Bell had completely wiped out its Twitter history, the account is actually hiding at @totallynothere during the blackout — with all followers (1.4 million) and tweets (39.9K) in place.
It is also interesting to note how quickly Twitter acted to make the “new” Taco Bell account verified. Usually, when a verified account is renamed (which is exactly what Taco Bell’s agency Digitas did), it loses the verified status. Clearly twitter and Digitas were planning and working on this stunt together. For now, the experiment seems to be continuing though it may not be long before Taco Bell resets and retakes its old avatar. I, for one, miss the witty one-liners. See below for an epic example.
It is heartening to see Taco Bell embrace technology like no one else, and at the same time, add emotions in the mix. Even the press invites sent for the announcement looked like something you wouldn’t expect from a fast food retailer.
And that’s the trick. Taco Bell wanted to make sure that their message broke through, without breaking their budgets. As a pioneer marketer, Taco Bell prefers to do things that have never been done before, which fits perfectly with their brand as well as the demographic they cater to.
Social media has been tightly entrenched in Taco Bell’s broad marketing play as well, with key personnel from PR, operations, product, and marketing playing a part in influencing the brand’s social movement. And for those, who believe social media leads to zero ROI, one look at Taco Bell would absolve that myth. AdAge recently wrote about the role of social media in year-on-year sales growth outpacing its competitors.
I have written in the past about clever social media and real time marketing employed by brands but this easily surpasses all Dark dunks and funny tweet fights. What do you think?
This article has also appeared on The Wall Blog.
From a man who couldn’t fly for his life to a man who basically flies for a living, John, or Johnny Jet as he is popularly known, has come a long way.
Johnny is a travel expert and editor-in-chief of the super popular travel information website, JohnnyJet.com. Johnny has visited over 60 countries, and is known to add a handful of new countries every year to his ever-growing list.
Johnny has frequently appeared in numerous publications including The LA Times, Outside Magazine, USA Today, and Travel and Leisure Magazine among others. He has made television appearances on CNN, Tech TV, Fox News, PBS, and various media outlets worldwide. In addition, Johnny frequently contributes articles to Frommers as well.
With a verified twitter account possessing over 45000 fans, Johnny Jet is a true “GlobeTrotter on Twitter”. Excerpts from our chat.
- What’s so special about traveling, and air travel specifically?
Johnny – I’m just amazed with air travel and our ability to be able to do it for such reasonable prices. It’s really amazing the world we live in today.
- And what’s your favorite part about air travel?
Johnny – I love to fly on new planes – especially inaugural flights because everyone is really friendly and bouncing around talking to each other. I’ve been lucky to do quite a few. Some of my favorites are:
- Do you have a preferred airline?
Johnny – It all depends on the route but I really enjoyed my around the world flight on Jet Airways (video)
- Tell us about your all-time favourite city? Any special moments associated with it?
Johnny – My favourite is New York City but I don’t have just one special moment.
- Most modern airports these days have Wi-Fi, what other feature you would like to see them adopt?
Johnny – More electrical outlets, faster Wi-Fi and natural light.
- Natural Light is a great suggestion. Makes the space looks bigger as well. What will you suggest to wannabe travellers out there who are afraid of expenses associated with traveling?
Johnny – Not having money is not a good excuse for not to travel. People either need to cut back on their daily habits like buying coffee or magazines and save that money. You can also travel for free. There are websites where you can sleep on people’s couches (couchsurfing.com). There are always good deals too. In our deals newsletter we’ve published deals like California to Brazil for under $300 RT. Or New York to Istanbul for under $400 R/T.
- Wow! Those two deals sound incredible. I think I’m going to subscribe to your newsletter right away. But which website, guide book etc. you refer to during your travels?
Johnny – I price out my tickets using our JohnnyJet.com search engine. Then I usually ask my friends/followers on Facebook and Twitter what they recommend.
- All right, that’s great info Johnny. Give us your 3 must follow twitter accounts please?
Johnny – Three best is tough but
@AirFareWatchDog (for airline deals),
@cjmcginnis (we co-host a weekly #TravelSkills Twitter chat),
@BreakingNews (for what’s going on in the world)
* If you liked this post, why don’t you join many other amazing readers who have followed this blog to receive blog posts via email. No spamming guaranteed
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter – an Introduction (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Shashank Nigam (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Gary Leff (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter – Chris Christensen (The Amateur Traveler) (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Ben Schlappig (One Mile at a Time) (vishal1mehra.com)
If your wondering what all this is about, then you should probably go here before proceeding further.
For the first profile of my most ambitious blog series yet, I wanted to have someone who straddles the aviation, travel as well as digital marketing aspects together and really sets the benchmark for this initiative. Luckily enough for me I did not have to look around hard as Shashank kindly agreed to be featured as a “GlobeTrotter on Twitter”.
Shashank Nigam of course is much more than just that. He is the Founder/CEO of SimpliFlying, one of the world’s leading aviation marketing consultancies, which advises over 25 airlines. airports and even aircraft manufacturers on profitable customer engagement strategies. On top of that, SimpliFlying.com is one of the Top 2 blogs on aviation, and their Twitter handle (@simpliflying ) is also one of the Top 5 most influential on airlines.
Excerpts from my geek-out with him
- Air Travel used to be a breeze back in the day but not anymore. What is your greatest motivation to travel?
Shashank – I love watching planes, being on planes, just being near them. And I realise that I, like many others, have jet-fuel running through my veins. I get excited each time I need to search for a new flight, go through the booking process, in anticipation of the flight itself. The joy of flying is greater than any hassles. And through all this, I’ve now been to 51 countries!
- 51 countries is impressive indeed. But tell me do you enjoy the flying part of your travel more or the city sightseeing? Of all the thousands of flights that you may have taken, any particularly memorable experience you recount?
Shashank – I cherish the flying part of travel as much as sightseeing, and meeting people from different cultures. There are a few in-flight memories that have left an impact. My first flight – it was on an Aeroflot Illyushin in 1994, from Delhi to Singapore. Everyone was drinking, playing cards and I smelled like an ashtray when I stepped out. But my first flight, nevertheless. My first ultra-long haul flight was on Thai Airways, from Bangkok to New York, non-stop, over 17 hours! The first time I flew Business Class – it was on Cathay Pacific, from New York to Singapore, via Hong Kong. Loved the experience and service. The first time I flew the 787 Dreamliner, on a private invite-only flight at the Singapore Airshow was unforgettable. And as recently as last week, when I flew from Dar-e-salam to Zanzibar on a 17-seater, and the Captain was kind enough to let me sit in the cockpit, next to him for the full flight!
- Which is your favourite airport and which is your favourite airline? and tell us why?
Shashank – Favourite airport has to be Singapore Changi Airport – there’s so much to do, and if you want to get out, you go from plane to taxi in 10 mins.
Favorite airline differs depending on the class. My favourite First Class experiences has been on Emirates – the Suites are very private and luxurious and you get treated like a king. Their lounges in Dubai are superb too. The best Business Class experience has been on Turkish Airlines, long haul – where you get your own butler in-flight, and their lounge in Istanbul is possibly the best Star Alliance lounge in the world. The best Economy Class is on Singapore Airlines – true value for the premium you pay. Among LCCs, I love Virgin America, jetBlue and Volaris, for treating us like real people and offering a differentiated service!
- Alright, that makes me ask you your favourite aircraft?
- Couldn’t agree more with you there. In fact A340 is my favourite aircraft as well. Pity its not as popular among airlines now. Which city you’re particularly fond of?
Shashank – Istanbul is my favourite city – the perfect mix of culture and modernity. Though, from an #avgeek perspective, I love London and Los Angeles, with the huge variety of aircraft flying low, throughout the day, prior to landing.
- Leaving aside wifi, what would you like to see airports world over to adopt?
Shashank – “Quiet zones” will be welcome, where travellers with longer lay overs can just relax.
- Which website, guide book etc. you consult before and while your traveling? What’s your research for a country/city like?
Shashank – I always check seatguru.com to select the best seat before I check-in, Tripadvisor is a must for the hotels and Hipmunk for flight bookings. Most of my research on a city is last minute – a tweet or Facebook message to friends before I take off ensures I have 2-3 solid recommendations of things to do in a city.
- You run a successful consultancy and of course have jet-fuel running through your veins 😉 but what would you to tell the average guy who wants to travel but is afraid of the expenses associated with it?
Shashank – With the advent of LCCs, anyone can fly. So look out for those cheap deals and book a ticket. You might score one that’s cheaper than the train or the bus too. It’s never too late to fly!
- and finally, what role do you think twitter has played in encouraging people to travel? Also, as this is “GlobeTrotters on Twitter”, your 3 favourite twitter user accounts?
Shashank – I love to meet my Twitter friends at airports while I’m in transit, or in the city that I’m visiting. Social media, especially Facebook and Pinterest are great for seeking inspiration on where to go next too!
My top 3 favourite Twitter users –
@ApexMary – she is the girlgeek of travel, who knows everything there is to know inside the cabin.
Thanks Shashank, That’s little more than 3 but because you mentioned one certain Vishal Mehra, we would let that pass.
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter – an Introduction (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Gary Leff (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Johnny Jet (vishal1mehra.com)
- GlobeTrotters on Twitter | Ben Schlappig (One Mile at a Time) (vishal1mehra.com)
It’s been over 2 days “Lemp” has been a top trending topic for over 20 million users of Twitter in India. Surprisingly Lemp is not the name of a champion Indian cricketer, a famous Bollywood actor or a corrupt politician caught in yet another scandal.
Lemp is a name of a brewery-restaurant located in the New Delhi suburb of Gurgaon, caught in the eye of a social media storm after a group of youngsters were cheated and mentally harassed by the management and owners of the property.
Due to whatever reason the original blog post has been removed, but thanks to Google cache it will forever live on. I would strongly suggest you to read more about the incident here before proceeding further. Scribd also has a copy of the deleted post.
It is yet another example of how a young, educated & web savvy population in India is making sure their voice is not muzzled & their rights not being taken for granted by people in power.
A visit to a restaurant for a ‘Hawaiian Sunday Brunch’ turned out to be too ghastly for a group of youngsters this Sunday, after they had checked out Sunday brunch events listed in the review site, Zomato. Apart from not being served any advertised Hawaiian food, they were overcharged when they wished to leave and threatened with police arrest when they protested about the bill. Besides, the Haryana/Gurgaon police instead of coming to their rescue, chose to side with the owner and manager of the restaurant. The youngsters were just short of being detained for not paying the ‘overcharged’ bill.
The youngsters decided to blog about their experience and since then the Indian twitterverse has been enraged to the say the least. The news is even picked up by the biggest newspaper of the country, Times of India besides other major publications and one of the biggest online news publishers, FirstPost.
Zomato has even come out with a blog post on it’s website supporting the youngsters.
Incidentally, the user rating for Lemp Brewpub & Kitchen on Zomato has had a huge fall to 1.2 from its earlier 3 point something, after the blog post went viral on Social Media.
Lemp opted for a rebuttal by a fake customer, who incidentally has access to all of their CCTV footage. They also threatened the diners with a defamation suit in a very cocky reply to their review, although the unrelenting attack has also forced them to change their name to PurpleBar. So much for transparency.
There were two possible options for Lemp:
1) Brazen this out, offer their version and prove that those diners were indeed trying to fleece the restaurant. One of the better ways could have been to show CCTV footage of the altercation, without obvious editing of the same. Their press release mentions the same but even after 4 days of the incident, nothing has been released yet.
2) Apologize. Admit that they messed up, a spur-of-the-hour moment for them, which shall never be repeated, with sincere apologies on video by the management and the owner. Convince those youngsters to visit the restaurant once more and actually organize a Hawaiian Sunday brunch, on the house for them. Considering the egos involved, this certainly seems like a definite no-go and I’m not surprised that Lemp has decided to go ahead with option 1.
After much hullabaloo, Lemp issued a statement last night (on Scribd) offering their version of events, including insights from their social media agency, as to who could be behind all of this, clearly going on the offensive.
In a country where consumer rights are always taken for granted, our proud history of free speech and the opportunities provided by the power of social media is making sure that the voice of the common man can be heard loud and clear.
It’s a welcome change and one that the common Indian hopes will make the “high and mighty” think twice before taking him for a ride.
This blog post has also been featured by The WALL here, one of the world’s leading blog on Digital and Social Media.
- Zomato to Release Widget to Filter Reviews After Lemp Fiasco in Gurgaon (nextbigwhat.com)
- Youth’s ‘horrid experience’ at a Gurgaon restaurant goes viral (ibnlive.in.com)
- Lemp Brew Pub: Curious Case Of A Hawaiian Brunch In Gurgaon (indiatimes.com)
Few weeks back when I wrote about the top digital marketing trends for India, RTM (Real Time Marketing) did not figure in the list. But then February 3rd, also known as Super Bowl Blackout day happened & the world of marketing promised not to be the same ever again.
I started thinking about RTM scenarios for the Indian market & how our marketers could take advantage of those opportunities. But what really drove me to write this post was a session during ad:tech new delhi 2013.
RTM is not a new phenomena which spawned one fine evening when Oreo & it’s agency partner decided to dunk in the dark, & in the process became a lifelong case study for this marketing genre. Instead Real Time Marketing techniques were developed in 1990s with initial deployments of CRM solutions in major sectors, but it wasn’t so glamorous & thus not thought about much during that time.
Marketing has altered radically in the last few years — perhaps more than any other business role — and the progression will absolutely continue as marketers become more single-minded, swift and supple.
With over 150 million internet users, & 100 million social network user base, India as a market is ripe for some RTM action but this form of marketing goes far beyond simply posting a timely tweet (see Oreo/Tide during blackout), a status update or even a vine posting (see Calvin Klein). Brands have to expand the use of real time social analytics, create great content to drive engagement & make on-the-fly decisions around trending relevant topics. That certainly is hard to fathom in current Indian marketing culture.
Current culture being the key statement in the last paragraph.
Because Indian consumers have moved on & so must the marketing techniques employed to entertain & engage them. A recent study in fact did say, “Engaging customers through content & other outreach techniques is getting increased attention from marketers in India”.
But most Indian marketers still find it challenging to cut through the information clutter today to resonate. Mostly because they are not used to customers driving interactions (after all it was one way shouting till a while back) & taking control of the relationship they share.
Marketing strategies still rely heavily on arranging everything, to the T. That practice has to give way. Marketers can plan, but can’t choreograph consumer behavior.
With the sixth edition of Indian Premier League starting in April, Indian brands have a grand stage to get daring with their consumers & in the process get embraced.
The biggest opportunity out of all brands clearly lies with Pepsi. Pepsi is not just the official presenting sponsor for IPL 6; it is a youth driven brand urging its TA to “Live for Now”. In India its latest brand tagline “Oh Yes, Abhi” conveys the same spirit of Now, Instant & Dynamism to the impatient Indian youth.
Although my views about Pepsi not introducing the new logo in the Indian market even after 4+ years is widely known on twitter, I still believe being a challenger cola brand a new approach can have a positive impact for them.
That new approach is not just premiering new TVCs on YouTube, because that is passé, it is not just dumb tweets asking who your favorite cricketer is, it is making custom content for its online consumers which needs to be fun & useful.
& If some of that can be made at twitter speed, it would be Quaker oats on the milk (let me know if you have a better suggestion for this?)
I should also note that the instant Oreo Super Bowl ad followed a 100-day program called “Daily Twist” that began in June 2012 and ended on October 2nd, 2012. It was 100 days of real-time posting of Oreo’s responses to what was happening in the news, such as the Mars Rover landing and the anniversary of the ATM. So in no way it was a fluke or a creative that popped out of nowhere.
Another extensively acknowledged case study has been the work done on Old Spice campaign through YouTube, “The man your man could smell like”. Here’s a helpful link to take you back to 2010.
Real Time Marketing is clearly not cut out for every brand, nor it can be done without extensive resources on a continuous basis. Probably the easiest way to implement it would be to start using it in select functions & not across the marketing department off the bat.
I firmly believe that RTM has few unique principles:
1) Focus on individual interactions
2) Need for adaptive campaigns
3) Strong alignment with other key departments like sales
4) Customer collaboration
That certainly is not a comprehensive list & just like it’s core, these principles are ever changing & dynamic in nature.
In today’s aggressive and rapidly fluid economy, brands are determined to remain at the vanguard of their industries, which gives Real time marketing its spotlight. By allowing marketing to be “better, faster, and cheaper,” and be more flexible in the face of change, RTM 24/7 can help brands in their efforts to create a competitive advantage.
Brands can also expect RTM to benefit their offerings by increasing WOM (Word of Mouth), Media Receptivity, Social Media Presence and increased chances of consideration by the consumer.
Let me conclude with one of my key learning’s from ad:tech new delhi 2013 about marketing “Don’t wait to be perfect, just start”, after all Brands can afford to be “flawsome”
This piece has also appeared on India Digital Review as a Guest Article
- The King of Real Time Marketing (vishal1mehra.com)
As over 150 million Indians surf the interwebs (yes, that’s what the cool kids call it these days), Indian marketers are losing their sleep to catch them young, in their mid-life crisis or even after hanging up their boots. The challenge is immense. Out of the $5 billion Indian advertising industry, $900 million go to digital marketing. The share of digital is poised to grow larger every year & slated to touch 30% of the total market by 2015.
As marketers we need to keep a track on the consumer’s pulse and the next big idea to engage them. Keeping that in mind & that we have 11 months left to make those ideas work for us, here are 5 trends, which will go massive in 2013
1) Native Advertising
“Once you go Native, you don’t go Interruptive” – ANON
Over the past 10 years, publishers have continued to monetize their sites with banners and pre-roll ads, and advertisers have continued to pump billions into these formats, in spite of tanking performance & universal contempt. While click-through rates on display ads started out at around 9% in 2000, they now hover around 0.2% – which effectively means 99.8% of banner ads go straight to the trashcan.
Native advertising like a Promoted Tweet or a Sponsored story in Facebook allows brands to promote their content into the experience of the site or other mediums, in a non-interruptive & integrated manner. We are going to hear a lot about Native this year & it will affect the way we create content, effectively & hopefully killing advertising that sucks.
Native advertising is the irrefutable future.
2) Social TV
2013 is the year when Social TV will go mainstream, ending the era of sitting passively on big boy recliners and watching television.
Social TV’s secret sauce is mixing humanity’s love for Television and its enchantment with social media. NEWS, Sports and Music channels have been on the wagon for a while but the turning point for the industry will be getting GEC’s onboard, inviting viewers to interact and decide their own storytelling experience.
NDTV’s second screen effort in its mobile app and Airtel’s Shazam campaign are couple of recent examples from the Indian market, but the biggest of them all comes in April 2013, when American network SyFy launches Defiance as a cross-platform story, on TV and as a MMO game.
What makes the industry even more exciting is the imminent launch of Twitter TV ratings with Nielsen this summer and the prospect of Social TV growing to a multi billion-dollar industry by 2020.
Today’s consumer is both everywhere and nowhere and his/her attention is divided between multiple screens & platforms on different screens. Marketers like to speak about TV, Desktop & Mobile as 3 screens, adding Tablet into the mix as the 4th screen will be a wise move to reach those fragmented souls who are always on the target list as the “elusive on-the-go customer”.
More consumers are watching more and more content, but that viewing is dispersed across different platforms, starting with TV, Online Streaming and VOD to Podcast. Although some western markets are going through the cord cutting phenomena, Indian market is going through what I like to call as “Cord extension” phase, where consumers are adding broadband, mobile, DTH, DVR and IPTV connections over their existing Cable TV.
The mantra of Content everywhere and anywhere on any device & any screen has played its bit role in fragmentation but changing consumption lifestyles has made it necessary to shift both strategy and focus for marketers that want to keep up with their audiences.
Thus 2013 should see some brave moves by content owners worldwide, some even unthinkable few years back, to keep their audience with them.
4) Content Marketing
Content Marketing has already attained huge prominence among marketers worldwide but 2013 will see consumers seeking out content themselves, making it increasingly vital to the purchase cycle as well. Brands & agencies are responding with increased capabilities, as they look for opportunities to get involved and engaged with consumers at different levels, to provide content that is relevant and share worthy.
2013 will also witness marketers combining content with context to drive commerce.
Brands such as Red Bull with the Stratos Freefall initiative and McDonald’s Canada with Our Food, Your Questions campaign have led the charge globally while Tata Nano’s Social road trip has made a splash in the Indian market.
5) Smart Data
Originally this was supposed to be titled as Big Data, and then came along an email by Rachel Gilley from our UK office, explaining how 1 of our clients thought data needs to be actionable and Smart data attained it’s place in the list. Every consumer touch point is a valuable piece of data & taking it together is possibly an antidote to fragmentation, discussed earlier in this post.
Big Data is complex to say the least and possibly the greatest challenge marketers face all over the world today. Companies collect information from their customers in structured or unstructured format, which are later put through various tools to understand consumers better. Global brands like Netflix, Amazon and Apple use it to serve better recommendations to their customers, whereas most of major Indian Retailers like Shoppers Stop & Lifestyle use transaction data to re-design store layouts & inventory management.
Interestingly Shoppers Stop, for instance, found that very often when middle-aged ladies shopped for Indian clothing, the other item on their list was men’s innerwear.
The much-improved version of Big Data is Smart Data, Data that can be put instantly to use by brands to improve marketing, business decisions and customer engagement practices.
This post has also appeared on imediaconnection India
I would talk about Twitter on another post, but this one is all about my passion, my passion for Airplanes, Traveling & Social Media, & my recent experience of all of that converging into one wholesome package.
I was traveling on Business to US in June/July 2012 & @KLM happened to be my 31st airline (did the math). KLM was not my primary choice, in fact I wanted to fly its Sky Team partner, Air France for the routing, but boy was I glad at the end of it all!
I had read a lot about the “truly” social seating features that KLM had introduced, for the first time ever in the world of commercial aviation through its initiative known as “Meet and Seat” & when I realized that my flights would have those features while checking in, the social media guy in me took the front seat (not literally, premium economy requires you to pay more).
After filling in all relevant details, I was surprised to find only 2 gentlemen using the service (DEL-AMS route), one through Facebook & the other through Linked In. & unfortunately for me, none of the hot chicks on the flight decided to bother themselves with it (like this un-official video below would have you believe). Shockingly enough I was the only user of the service on AMS-IAD, & while returning from JFK to DEL via AMS, I encountered no users of Meet & Seat.
Although, its an exciting development, the concept of Social Seating has been discussed for a while now (Look at this coverage of Meet & Seat launch by @SimpliFlying), & other specialized players in the space like Satisfly have more detailed features, allowing better matching & flexibility to travelers.
Being a Marketer, my left brain & my right brain, both tell me its the marketing stupid. If i recall correctly, there was no special promotion on KLM’s homepage for the feature (unlike airBaltic promoting its satisfly features) & there is still none. Even the check-in page had little mention, I first sighted a RHS dynamic banner while filling in my API (Advance Passenger Information), some might say that’s appropriate given meet & seat is an optional additional feature, I would highly disagree.
When you have an exclusive service, which is available on just 1 other airline, out of possibly 1000s of other airlines in the world, WHY WOULD YOU NOT WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT?
KLM, arguably has one of the world’s best social media response teams, spread across regions, on Facebook & Twitter, interacting & delighting travellers every minute, KLM’s Marketing team was behind this fantastic Surprise campaign, they have a gamut of helpful & entertaining mobile apps, but I find it astounding that when it comes to Meet & Seat, there is very little noise generated by them. In this era of increased social connectivity & interaction, Meet & Seat could have easily become the talking point among travelers, some of them might have even paid a premium to be on KLM because of it.
The only logical explanation that I could think for under promoting is that the service is in beta, & KLM is in the process of adding more features & capabilities. To that, I would just say 3 words, Look at Google.
My experience on KLM was fantastic & the cabin crew was most friendly & helpful in all four legs of the trip, I would fly with them again for those Big MD-11 windows (although the IFE was crappy), for the wonderful hub at Schiphol, for the amazing roof at Schiphol, making you see aircraft fly in & out, & for its wonderful & courteous staff, alas Meet & Seat if promoted well, could have been another solid reason.
PS: This post was coined “The Social Dutchman” by me after realizing KLM is more than just a “Flying Dutchman” & I hope they live up to this recognition.
This Post is also featured on AeroBlogger, as a slightly altered Guest Post.
- KLM Must See Map – Social Media meets Print Media (cultofcreativity.com)
- Can brands perform random acts of kindness? (econsultancy.com)
- Airline lets passengers choose seat partners based on social media profiles (dimaagkakeeda.wordpress.com)
- Social Seating in Iberia flights (ivarsmore.wordpress.com)