KLM conquers the heart of WeChat Users
A smart social commerce strategy harnessed the power of WeChat, one of the biggest super-apps the world has to offer, to make KLM Royal Dutch Airlines the go-to Western air carrier in China.
It could have been a turbulent journey! However, by keeping true to KLM’s customer-first ethos and by utilising local expertise, KLM’s innovative social media-driven campaign ensured engagement turned to conversion, offering a full customer journey and making the airline one of the first to successfully break ground on WeChat.
Successfully connecting with the Chinese population - KLM and WeChat
WeChat is the biggest and most widely used app in the Chinese market, which made it the perfect platform for Dept and KLM to launch a next-level social commerce strategy. It was uncharted territory – and throwing money at it simply wouldn’t cut it – so we introduced a 4-step approach to drive awareness, engagement, conversion and, most importantly, preference.
We wanted to build KLM’s presence on the app, offer the best digital service, create a relationship between brand and users, attract more followers with original and inventive native content, and ultimately seal the deal with a next-level social commerce experience.
Expanding whilst staying true to their caring nature
KLM aims to become the preferred Western airline in China. Using WeChat to achieve this goal was a logical step which matched their digital strategy. We knew social commerce could and should play an integral role in the campaign. Allowing users to book directly via a simple, effective and transparent online payment system would not only help convert casual browsers into customers, but would also prove the brand progressive and tech-savvy, as well as reinforcing their position as a caring company that values existing customers as much as future fliers.
The audience was targeted based on two criteria. First, the ‘golden age’ audience between 20 to 45 was hit through moment advertising. Secondly, data showed us that we would make the most local impact by focusing on key cities and pre-existing flight routes operated by KLM, which meant Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hangzhou and Xiamen all came under the radar to keep ads relevant and inclusive.
We analysed past post-performances and KLM’s brand values. We wanted approachable and entertaining content with a social TOV that stayed true to KLM’s biggest selling point: a caring nature. Historical data on seasonal trends and festivities plus existing flight routes, enabled us to produce effective native content, including weekly stories about KLM and cool travel trips, all of which helped to drive awareness about the brand as well as its social commerce innovations.
This smart strategy, combined with full-time Chinese natives on staff, enabled us to master moment ads and also introduced us to the world of Chinese influencers – Key Opinion Leaders. This enabled us to tailor our content. With a funny voice and style, we utilised key trends and words to achieve a higher CTR, as well as adapting well-performing organic posts to fit the new strategy.
The KLM WeChat persona was taken to heart by Chinese users who even gave it a nickname: ‘Da Lan’ or ‘Big Blue’. This perfectly symbolised the establishment and maintenance of the ‘close friends’ relationship KLM seeks.
KLM became the first non-Chinese airline in the world to offer ‘WeChat Pay’: next-level social commerce that makes buying a ticket seamless, easy and transparent. A mini-program was also set up, ‘Price Alerts’ – the first of its kind on the platform – which sends users a personalised message when prices for selected destinations drop to their desired budget.
Among the airline companies operating in the Chinese market, KLM now boasts some of the highest view numbers for their organic content (10K-15K per post). At the same time, social media posts and tags show the brand’s ‘caring’ key value has taken hold for Chinese users, becoming a first-order association in their minds.
Besides receiving a lot of positive comments on the WeChat platform, some of the results have been quantified:
- 670K+ enthusiasts per month
- Monthly growth of 6K+ new followers
- 300K monthly KOL reach
Besides continuing with current content planning of organic posts and moment advertising, Dept is also running a long-term KOL campaign to increase brand awareness and contribute to the follower growth and brand presence on WeChat.
The brief: create a future-proof social commerce strategy that connects the Chinese, KLM and WeChat – talk about uncharted territories!
We discovered that just throwing money at this massive super-app wouldn’t cut it. We needed to do a deep-dive into the market and the tech. While nowadays, the complexities of China’s internet ecosystem makes it difficult for European retail players to understand WeChat – which is why only a handful of top global brands have begun to sell to China with WeChat mini-programs – KLM became the first non-Chinese airline in the world to offer ‘WeChat Pay’. This next-level social commerce system makes buying a ticket seamless, easy and transparent. A mini-program ‘Price Alerts’ was also set-up – again, a first on WeChat – which enabled followers to set up real-time price and route alerts, winning the hearts of Chinese customers.
With a smart social media strategy, combined with full-time Chinese natives on staff, we mastered moment advertisement and were introduced to the world of Chinese influencers – Key Opinion Leaders. Before we knew it, our reach expanded rapidly with over 670K+ enthusiasts per month and our WeChat base grows daily with 200+ new followers.
KLM has proved it’s at the forefront of social commerce by unlocking the power of WeChat. Effectively utilising the app’s massive social network by owning the relationship with the customer, while securing a future-proof strategy, has made KLM Royal Dutch Airlines the go-to Western air carrier in China. Now that’s what we call next-level social commerce!