Companies can manage their brand messages and steer online conversations in the right direction, but the reality is that social media puts customers in the driver’s seat. Sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc. empower today’s customers to share their product experiences with friends, families and countless others online – whether it’s good or bad, and whether you like it or not.
According to a Frost & Sullivan report, this trend demonstrates “a fundamental shift from predominantly company-customer interactions to customer-customer interactions that influence company-customer relationships” (say that 5 times fast!). In other words, sharing content with your customers is still important but it’s not enough; to strengthen your relationship with customers, you need to generate discussions and encourage them to interact and share their experiences.
Here’s how it works: Using Instagram, upload photo(s) of yourself “chilling out” with your favourite Iced Capp beverage, tag your photo with the hashtag #ChillwithTims and see your picture appear on the Chill Nation photo gallery. Your photo might even be selected as the photo of the day, highlighted front and center on the Chill Nation landing page… which of course, you could tell all your friends to check out.
Simple and fun, right? For customers, it’s just that. For Tim Hortons, it’s much more.
- It makes Tim Hortons customers feel more engaged with the company, creating an emotional connection to the brand while also building customer loyalty.
- It’s creating brand advocates who endorse Tim’s products to their online connections, not only on Instagram but also by sharing their Instagram photo on Facebook and Twitter. Those connections then like, comment or share and may also decide to post their own photo or story and share with their connections and so on and so on.
- It lets fans connect – by asking customers to join Chill Nation they’re creating that customer-customer interaction which influences company-customer relationships.
- It helps Tim Hortons gather customer opinions before they need them and gain real-time insights into their customers – their interests, locations, age, gender, race, etc. – which they can use to target future campaigns.
- It’s creating buzz and driving momentum toward sales of their Iced Capp beverages as well as their Chill to Win contest.
Lessons for others:
Frost & Sullivan explain that current and prospective customers are using social media to talk about the products or services they’ve bought or are planning to buy. Tapping into these peer-to-peer or customer-to-customer communications can benefit your business and your brand. In fact, a recent Bain & Company survey of more than 3,000 consumers found,
“[Customers] who engage with companies over social media spend 20% to 40% more money with those companies than other customers.”
As companies such as Tim Hortons demonstrate, there needs to be a certain comfort level with handing over (some of) the control to your customers. While there are potential risks that come with these customer-driven campaigns, there are ways to manage those wrong turns… which is another topic altogether. The greater risk is not being involved in social media at all; customers expect a certain level of online engagement, and if you’re not meeting those expectations they’ll move on to another company who can.
So take a note from the Tim Hortons playbook and be proactive in engaging your customers with social media – create opportunities, like Instagram campaigns with specific hashtags, for your customers to interact and to endorse your brand.
- Social Media Customer Engagement
- 6 Social Media Customer Engagement Tips
- Chill Nation website
- Putting Social Media to Work
- Iced Capp image
If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.