Social Spotlight: How Tim Hortons puts people first in its social strategy



Tim Hortons and Canada have a symbiotic relationship. The restaurant chain has crafted a brand identity as the largest (and most recognized) coffee and donut franchise in the country. Now, they’re crafting a social identity that contributes to and drives that brand on a global scale.

Between targeting the entire nation of Canada as their core audience and tapping into that audience to engage and craft meaningful content, Tim Hortons chooses a people-first social strategy that reflects the company’s values.

Let’s take a look at a few of the ways the brand connects with its customers on social.

They made an entire country their target audience

Canadian culture is the core of Tim Hortons messaging. With locations across the globe, anyone can experience a little taste of Canada with their sweet treats and coffee. But social is a more impactful playground where Tim Horton’s can join in the celebrations around beloved Canadian pop culture, sports wins and more with their followers.

Their target audience may be broad, but sharing in these moments and leveraging them in their content strategy shows an understanding for what’s important to their followers, culturally. It creates a connection between brand and customer, but it also imparts a sense of relevancy, guaranteeing you always have something to talk about with the people that love your brand.

Make it yours: Not every brand has the same opportunity (or the same mission) to make an entire country its target audience. But the takeaway here is to look at how Tim Hortons speaks to its audience through the lens of culture. Using social to take part in joyous moments that are important to your own target audience creates a sense of connection amongst your brand, community and current events.

Their engagement is simple but powerful

Simple engagement choices are sometimes the most impactful. Tim Hortons recognizes this by tapping into their social audience to curate shop playlists or toasting their followers to brighten up a grey day.

Their questions, prompts and other interactive Tweets rack up substantial comment threads. The benefit is two-fold: Customers and followers are not only engaging with a brand they like, but they’re becoming part of the brand experience. Next time they’re in the shop and hear a song they may have suggested for the playlist on Twitter, they’ll feel like their opinion matters in crafting the experience they keep coming back for. It’s a simple way to use the power of social to build confidence and loyalty amongst your audience.

Make it yours: Do you use questions and prompts in your social strategy? Consider ways to make two-way conversation a bigger part of your content plan. Give your customers opportunities to be a part of the brand experiences you’re crafting so they can see themselves reflected in their consumer choices. Draw inspiration from what your audience cares about, even if they’re not directly related to your product or service. By focusing one prompt around music, Tim Hortons makes the engagement feel more authentic and less self-serving.

Their audience is their content

Part of cultivating a brand identity that’s beloved by an entire nation is understanding that the people of that nation play a large role in your brand.

Tim Hortons focuses on the people who love them to create and share meaningful content. Their 2020 holiday campaign—a whimsical video series centered on Canadians and the snowpeople they made that winter—showcases this people-first mentality and underscores a powerful message of inclusion. Tim Hortons didn’t strain to draw correlations between their product and the touching video series they created. Despite the campaign having little relation to coffee, the popular chain shows us that it sees the people they serve as just as much a part of its business as the products they serve.

And the content didn’t stop at one produced video of families coming together. It’s separate spotlights on the individual families and their values, and it’s the reaction of the families watching the final video back with Tim Hortons. They invite their customers into their brand and then invite us, the viewers, into every aspect of that process, developing a deep connection with their community.

And the real magic? Coffee and donuts didn’t even play a role. But you still recognize the Tim Hortons of it all.

Make it yours: Content can reach unimaginable heights when you craft a strong brand identity first. Don’t be afraid to take your content strategy in unexpected directions and fold your values (and the people you serve) into more of what you show the world. When done right, people will still recognize your brand in it all.

Tim Hortons may have a reputation as a beloved Canadian coffee chain, but thanks to the company’s thoughtful approach to social strategy and the innovative places they take their people-focused content and audience engagement, this international brand is building a reputation to be beloved across the world.

This post Social Spotlight: How Tim Hortons puts people first in its social strategy originally appeared on Sprout Social.