Double-Double Service: I like it tweet

This week’s assignment asked us to look at business on Twitter – how they’re using the tool, what sort of content they are providing and how well they interact with customers and promote themselves. In keeping with my coffee theme (can you tell I like coffee yet?) I decided that since Starbucks had their moment to shine last week, this week I would take a look at @TimHortons. It seemed rather fitting, since yesterday was National Coffee Day, and the Tim’s Twitter was out in style.

I actually really enjoy following the Tim Horton’s feed. They tweet fairly regularly – not obnoxiously so, but at least once every few days. The content of their tweets is usually great – responses to customers and people discussing their brand, or several Canadian-specific jokes, videos, etc.  They’ve been heavily promoting their smile cookie campaign this month, which is always great – it’s a positive thing to see on your feed, and reminds you that buying cookies may be the best charitable donation you’ve ever made. Because you get a cookie.

They also like to engage the customers by throwing out small polls and questions to respond to.  And generally I find that each tweet is often something that would just make you smile, or laugh – they’re really a pleasure to follow. In terms of layout, they hit it perfectly. Their Twitter has an instantly recognizable feel, like a warm cup of coffee in your hands. You know it’s Tim’s just by the background, and icon.  They have handy links on the sidebar to their homepage, Facebook account and Youtube channel (I bet you didn’t know they had a YT channel!). Tim’s as a whole is clearly aware of how to utilize the platform of social media. In an extra nod to the fact that they also serve an American demographic, they host a separate US account, @TimHortonsUS, and in a particularly savvy move, they also run a French account for their French Canadian customers, @cheztimhortons (which incidentally links to their French Facebook page and French Youtube channel). They cater to the customer they are serving, even on Twitter – which is a nice touch that not all businesses employ.

Overall I think they use their Twitter feed very successfully – they are an enjoyment to follow, and though there is room for improvement marketing wise, they are well on their way to utilizing the tools available to them. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to go grab a cup of coffee. In my household National Coffee Day is every day.

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Venti Sized Customer Involvement

This week, we’re looking at blogging for businesses, and what it can mean for not only them, but their customers too. I chose to look at Starbucks’ website to see what they were doing with their own blog, because I’m an invested customer. Someone go get me a latte while I peruse their blog.

Their site actually navigates to two different blogs – at the bottom of their home page they have featured blog posts from their regular blog, which is usual fare – semi-regular posts about things like coffee bean supply, the economy, how blueberries are going to save our lives. The layout matches their home site perfectly – uniform and minimalist – it’s nice to look at. The content isn’t that scintillating or involving though, and it’s a bit dry.

But that’s not the blog I want to talk about. Starbucks also has another blog – which is actually easier to navigate to from their home page, which is a great thing – called My Starbucks Idea. And this blog is fantastic. It’s still got that uniformity with the main site. Minimalist design, but this blog is all about the customers. The premise is that if you ever stand in line at Starbucks and think ‘wow, they should really do this to make the experience better’, you go to this blog, and submit your idea. Other customers (you do have to register to be able to vote for and submit ideas) can ‘promote’ or ‘demote’ ideas, thus giving them scores so they can be ranked.

In the sidebar, they have an ‘Ideas so far’ widget that separates ideas into categories. There is also a widget showing the current leading ideas with the popular vote, as well as a little poll widget that asks a new product based question every day. It’s a really great setup, and just engenders fantastic customer feedback. Customers are given a voice, and feel like they get an instant outlet for it. Plus Starbucks gets what amounts to instant polling – they know right away what products are being received well, and where they could improve.

Starbucks has a team of what they call ‘Idea Partners’ who are employees who read through the ideas, and they select the most popular and innovative ones, and present them to key decision makers over at Starbucks HQ. So your idea could actually be implemented – how’s that for consumer feedback in action?

Finally at the bottom of the page, they have a list of ideas that have been used in the past – and lets you know whether they’re launched, reviewed, under review or in the works.

Because of the user generated content of the blog, it is almost constantly updated – there is always something new to see, to vote on, and to voice your opinion on. It makes your Starbucks experience more than just grabbing a coffee, suddenly you are a voice in a virtual boardroom of brainstorming.

It’s a fantastic, interactive way to have more input into your coffee order than simply short, tall, grande or venti, and given that Starbucks’ MO is customized for you coffee, it’s not surprising that their idea blog adopts those same values. So join in, and place your idea on the table. You may just see it in a Starbucks near you.

Reflections on Social Media

Today, I’m going to talk about my own thoughts on social media and what it means to me. Hello, class 🙂 Social Media to me means – well, to be frank, an awful lot of my free time. I enjoy it greatly. I love my twitter, my tumblr – I tolerate my Facebook. I enjoy interacting with people from all over the world in various different ways. So to define it simply and personally – social media is a tool for me to meet new friends, and connect with current ones.

Obviously I am pretty familiar with the blogging concept. I run a blog on tumblr, I use twitter – two different accounts! – I use livejournal and facebook and dreamwidth and various other sites. I’ve been blogging since – well since we first purchased our own computer in 2003, and I discovered that hey – the internet was full of communities of people like me who like this, this and this thing! Obviously the interests have changed since then, but what has never changed is the fact that I am never alone in whatever I am interested in on the internet.

So clearly I blog and tweet for personal reasons mostly, but I am completely aware of how much impact it can have on businesses.  It’s the new frontier – the fastest way to reach millions of people. I’d even (completely without any statistics to back it up – hey it’s a blog. Cut me some slack!) go as far to say that the internet is a more powerful advertising tool than television commercials. I mean think about it. A ridiculous amount of people watch their television not on television anymore. They watch it online.

Back to the personal and not business aspect though, I adore social networking. I have made friends all over the world through it. Real friends – because they count. I don’t only communicate with them through twitter or tumblr or facebook – we text. We skype. We call. I know these people – who they are, where they live, what they do, what they look like. They’re some of my closest friends.  So obviously I have strong feelings about the medium that brought us all together.

Plus, my familiarity with all of these sites can only help me in the job market. I know how to do this – frankly, being paid to facebook and twitter and blog would be a dream job. I do it now for free. Moreover, it is an in demand skill. Businesses need to be online. They need to have a presence here, because it hurts them in the long run if they do not. It just makes good sense. It is a free, formidable, powerful advertising tool just waiting to be taken advantage of.

I feel like I’m going to love this class, because it’s teaching me about something I truly love and enjoy. I’m sure there will be moments when I am being taught something I already know, but it is a fun something, and the class size is so large, it’ll be fantastic to just interact with and watch people learn to love this thing I already love. It’s sort of like sharing a really good book, movie or television show with someone. You enjoy it more, knowing that they are learning to love it as well. The anticipation of their reaction. So I’m immensely looking forward to that. And I’m sure I’ll learn a thing or fifteen myself. Because the day I know everything is just never going to happen, especially in a field that moves as quickly as this one. You have to run full tilt just to keep up.

I look forward to the exercise.