Social Media Improving Brand Loyalty, But At a Cost?

While attending Eye for Travel Social Media Strategies conference recently in San Francisco, one of the seminars took a look at connectivity speeds over networks and how faster ones can in-turn render true brand engagement with customers in real-time settings.   The implications were interesting, and it was clear to see that high-speed networks could really facilitate a more direct, interactive and personalized relationship between brand and customer.

The Dutch airline KLM has done this in a rather novel way to interact with their guests. The story goes as such: the airline selected four passengers who decided to check-in with Foursquare or Twitter to show their appreciation to in a personalized way.  To do so, the airline looked at their social media profiles for clues — clues for a personalized gift to give the four passengers, nothing fancy, just a small carry-on item as a token of gratitude. For one guest, the airline discovered that they like to run, so two friendly KLM agents decide to surprise her and give her a sports-band before she flies.

Here’s where I’m torn between this being a helpful, personalized approach brands can take with their customers thanks to social media users who voluntarily give out their information and the creepiness factor. It has been said that “privacy is dead” in this age of social networking, and most people know that companies pay good money for any personal information about their client’s proclivities. And since all of these passengers voluntarily gave their personal info, they are essentially allowing others to look through this information to form a more personalized relationship which in this case included a gift. Needless to say, all of the passengers were grateful for the personalized gift, although some of them looked a little startled at first.

KLM scoured all four passengers’ tweets, Facebook accounts and any other public information about them in order to find the proper gift. Although some of the passengers seemed a little surprised at the lengths to which the airline went to find the right gift, one thing was certain — it did leave a lasting, positive impression on all of them.  This type of personalization is not entirely new since the hospitality industry has been doing it for years. However, instead of phone calls, letters and promos to bring back guests, companies can now watch in real-time when you arrive, your specific location, your interests, birth date and all types of other information.

Is this a smart way for brands to connect with their customers or creepy?  I’ll let you decide, as I can easily see the pros and cons of these types of approaches.

But one thing is clear, this is the future and the implications can be huge.  With the advent of faster networks and cloud based computing, companies will have an infinite pool of configurable computing resources to develop one of the marketer’s ultimate goals, which is a high return of engagement. Connectivity is of the utmost importance while traveling, and with improved network infrastructure of 4G/LTE, this type of engagement will happen faster and with more effective results of brand loyalty.

Chris Magana
Wcities International

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