Tim Hortons sips on social media

March 31, 2009 at 4:26 am (1) (, , )

timhorton2  Tim Hortons, the brew of choice for many Canadian coffee drinkers, is an early adaptor of social media.  With the recent launch of its website http://www.everycup.ca, Tim Hortons has brewed itself a steaming cup of social media joe. 

The web site is centred on the idea that every cup has a story and is in response to the millions of people that write in to the company eager to share their Timmies stories.  The site encourages its drinkers to share their special memory and post pictures or videos to the site.   From hockey moms to engagements, Tim Hortons shares in the moment. 

 Like other social media sites, every cup allows for viewers to share the stories via e-mail or Facebook, and even make the content the wallpaper on their desktop.  I think this is a mediocre attempt at a social media campaign however, the site is a great way to promote the brand and get people to talk and share their positive stories about the company. 

 Tim Hortons has experienced a significant increase in profit since launching the site.  With a 7.8 per cent total revenues increase last year, their social media site is doing more than strengthening the bond between brand and drinker.  

In addition to the profit increase, they are adding value to the brand by using social media. The site makes real the tie people feel with Tim Hortons, and I think that their social media campaign is a great way to make connection and share in the iconic brand image.

What makes this social media campaign such a success? In my opinion, it’s that it is so simple to use.  Tim Hortons accounts for 42 per cent of sector traffic in the quick serve restaurant industry in Canada.  How many of the 63 per cent of Canadians over the age of 18 that drink coffee on a daily basis, use social media on a daily basis?  Well, I don’t know.  But, what I do know is that 56 per cent of social media users are either joiners or creators.   Tim Hortons certainly has a strong market advantage and is only increasing it by using social media. 

According to Jude Fiorillo, in his blog post titled “Every Cup Tells A Story” = Every Story Sells A Cup  he argues that web site content is a lot like a product.  Web sites with poor content do not succeed, just like a bad product.  If we compare the content of the Tim Hortons site to a product, we are only able to see success.  This may be due to the high level of content monitoring the site has, but nonetheless it is success.  

Fiorillo comments on the success of the web site.  Anyone who wants to can participate, and in this case, the maximum size of the “available content pool” is large, because it turns out that … a lot of people drink coffee, and many people do interesting things while drinking coffee! Additionally, it’s likely that anyone creating an (indirect) messaged tied to Tim Hortons, is likely to share a positive message about the company (e.g. positive message about  due to the nature of the website.” 

He furthers to say that: “A byproduct of these strong associated feelings is that people feel a deeper relationship to the campaign’s content, and as a result, are more inclined to investigate the website. Consider also that people have the opportunity to talk about something important to them (their story), and that it’s easy to participate (all you need is a picture and a 1+ paragraph story) and this further facilitates participation, and an active website or community, in turn, fuels more participation. 

Therefore, Tim Hortons customers are drawn to the site to share their story and remain subscribed to the site because it is easy to use.

In Wayne McPhail’s blog post titled “Decaf social media,” he discusses how Tim Hortons has made a weak attempt to use social media.  It’s very clear they don’t want your stories, they want your stories that put Tim Horton’s in a good light. And, they really don’t want your comments. They want your comments that put Tim Horton’s in a good light. So really, it’s decaf social media. It’s social media co-opted by an organization that doesn’t really understand what social media is about.”

I happen to disagree with McPhail.  He does however, make a valid point about monitoring your social media site for appropriate content.  Although it is crucial for business’ to promote positively, Tim Hortons and other companies using similar social media techniques, are finding that strict monitoring of the content posted on their sites can be potentially detrimental to the brand if they appear to promote in a “gushy,” yay us type-manner.   

In all, Tim Hortons does a good job of using social media to generate awareness and the connection people feel to the brand.  Tim Hortons’ use of social media is not so much to make a profit and market itself, but rather it is an attempt to reinforce to its loyal customers that they should remain a part of their lifestyle.  


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Anti-social media

February 12, 2009 at 11:34 am (1) (, )

antisocial1Anti-social media is not a personality disorder.  Well, not yet at least.  Rather, it is the act of socializing using symbols, acronyms, status updates, videos and pictures to communicate.  In an effort to “connect”  with friends, we are disconnecting from face-to-face interaction.  The advent of social media has me wondering: does twitter and Facebook make us less social?  In one swooping answer, yes.

Non-verbal communication accounts for the majority of what we say, without actually saying it. We are able to pick up on the subtle cues that the written word simply cannot.  Facial expressions, body language and eye contact, add impact in a way that emphasis with CAPITALS and smiley faces can’t measure up to.  The removal of the lived experience when using media like twitter and Facebook, make communicating a guessing game; unsure of what the other is really expressing.

The symptoms of anti-social media behaviour are easily detected.  Compulsion, secrecy and perhaps even isolation.  However, the severity of the symptoms depend on how you choose to use social media.  As a marketing tool for a young PR student such as myself, it only makes sense to promote on sites like Linkedin, Digg and twitter.  Social media used in this sense, provides the user with global networking capabilities, and the opportunity to keep with the trends.  My only challenge: learning to do so in 140 characters or less.

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