Social Media

Lessons from the World’s First Twitter-Fueled Flight

A Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) March 21 nonstop flight between Amsterdam and Miami added to the schedule by the collaborative efforts, via Twitter, of KLM and the Dutch electronic dance community.

A quick recap: KLM already was planning nonstop service between the two cities in late March — but just a a bit too late for attendees of the Ultra Music Festival.  When a Dutch DJ joked that there were more than enough Miami-bound house music fans to fill a plane, KLM challenged the Dutch music-lovers to do just that. KLM set a deadline of a week to ten days — and in just one day, the hashtag group set up for the purpose, #fly2miami, had generated enough applications for the flight to be scheduled.

I followed the #fly2miami hashtag while writing the story and have continued to keep an eye on it  — even though I can’t read Dutch. There have been more than enough posts in English for me to see how #fly2miami  has become a source of information, not just about air travel, but about the music festival experience itself.

Festival-goers are using #fly2miami to share information about where to stay in Miami, which parties are not to be missed, even when their festival tickets arrive in the mail. (“Woot!”) The biggest party may turn out to be the nine-hour flight itself, not just because of the music broadcast that is planned, but because #fly2miami has forged new bonds between the music fans.

If I didn’t already get it, the story hammered in for me the often-repeated idea: Social media isn’t about selling things or about promoting events. It is about creating and connecting communities with shared interests and goals. From that community, other things naturally follow.

Barbara Palmer

Barbara Palmer is senior editor and director of digital content.