Last fall, coffee house Tim Hortons had the better part of two continents crying with joy and empathy. The company's Away Game video followed the adventures of the only Kenyan hockey team, the Ice Lions, as Tim Hortons funded their trip to Canada to play hockey against a Canadian team.
The glaze on the donut, as it were? NHL players Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon joined the Lions in the game.
As with any marketing campaign, the best social media promotions tell stories that evoke emotions. The three-minute version featured no product placements for Tim Hortons, just the company logo in the arena. But the video scored a winning goal for viewers and the coffee house alike with close to 2 million YouTube views.1
Not every business owner has the social media marketing budget of Tim Hortons. If hockey team sponsorship and video production is out of your budget or capabilities, try creating a few memes or infographics to share stories that connect your brand to relatable moments and positive emotions.
If you use the right stories, social media can help you achieve greater brand recognition and connect with consumers in ways traditional media can't. There's plenty to learn from Canada's top brands when it comes to building your social presence.
First, find your customers
A recent survey of social media activity in Canada shows that 80 percent of online Canadians are on Facebook, with 37 percent of those users sharing or reposting the content of other people, organizations, or media at least once a week. Fewer Canadians are on LinkedIn, but they are more active, with 45 percent of all social media users on the platform, and 44 percent of LinkedIn users sharing information from others weekly.2
Toronto-based Torus Power, a manufacturer of high-end power protection products for luxury home technology applications, focuses on their Facebook strategy3 with boosted posts and content that encourages consumers to share their experiences with high-resolution music. When a post showing a room of vinyl records went viral, the custom electronics manufacturer knew who their message was resonating with: audiophiles.
The company now uses the hashtags #VinylFridays to appeal to this audience, and #ThrowbackThursday to share music and memories with their target audience, which skews to GenXers and Baby Boomers who have the money to invest in high-end systems.
It's all about the follow-up
To leverage community the same way Torus Power did, consider using hashtag apps to pinpoint popular ones in your industry, then follow the conversations.
Or you can coin your own hashtag, like Canadian outdoor retailer Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC), who introduced #GoodTimesOutside4 and used it to attract consumers in Ontario and Quebec. The retailer launched the campaign on all their social channels, including Twitter and Instagram, and directed users to a microsite with tips on outdoor activities accessible to people of any ability level.
In addition to the hashtag, which had nationwide appeal, the retailer used geotargeting to promote outdoor events in specific regions and also encouraged followers to share their own photos and stories. The campaign generated a total of 70,000 posts using #GoodTimesOutside, from MEC and their followers.
Keep your content fresh—and frequent
While most business won't generate content that results 70,000 posts or 2 million views, a consistent social media schedule will help you build traffic and extend your reach gradually. It's simple: The more content you post, the more people will see it. Deliver a broad variety of content to appeal to more people.
Canadian Tire might be closing in on its 100th anniversary in 2022, but its marketing efforts are as cutting-edge as any you will find. The company has deployed successful campaigns5 with user-generated content, content that bridges the gap between online interactions and consumers' in-store experiences, and 7-second videos that don't require sound to make an impact.
Deploying social media scheduling, tracking, and retargeting apps has enabled the company to track which videos perform best with specific demographics and serve up similar content to those internet users in the future.
A social media scheduler is crucial so you're not tied to your computer, but the analytics it provides can help you track engagement so you know when it's appropriate to guide your followers down your sales funnel, just as multi-million dollar brands like Canadian Tire can do.
Reasons not to skip out on social
A company without a social media strategy risks being viewed as a less-than-reputable organization. Social media gives you an opportunity to listen to your market and improve your offerings based on their feedback, solve customer service disputes quickly and stay on consumers' minds when they are considering a purchase.
It's okay to start small and grow incrementally, hiring staff or outsourcing social media services as needed, or exploring social media advertising options to expand your reach. (By using your American Express, you will have up to 55 days* of unsecured credit to pay back your social media advertising purchases.)
While you may not see the benefits of social media immediately, if you settle in for the long game you'll someday wonder how you ever did without this powerful marketing tool.
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* As a charge card, the balance must always be paid in full each month in which no interest charges will apply. The interest free grace period is 28, 29, 30 or 31 days from the closing date of the current statement to the closing date of the next statement depending on the number of days in the calendar month in which the closing date occurs. The number of interest free days varies based on a variety of factors, including when charges are posted to your account, whether your account is in good standing, and the closing date of your statement
This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or an opinion on any issue. It should not be regarded as comprehensive or a substitute for professional advice.