How Small Businesses in Halifax are Winning at Social Media

One does not have to look hard to find great examples of small, local businesses who are winning at social media. I see examples nearly every day of tweets I wish I’d tweeted, videos I wish I’d made, or Facebook contests I wish I’d thought up. Here are some of the best examples of businesses who are winning at local social media.

Covered Bridge Potato Chips #StormChips

#Stormchips are now a reality thanks to a small New Brunswick potato chip company that was listening to social media chatter and jumped on an opportunity.

The #stormchips story is the stuff of Twitter legends. One fine day Stefanie Domet, a journalist, commented on the current storm indicating she wished she had some chips to weather out the storm, and was the first person to use the hashtag #stormchips. Over the course of that winter, hundreds, nay, probably THOUSANDS of people grabbed onto the #stormchips idea, tweeting out the need for the crunchy necessities before, during and after every snow squall.

You see what happened? A casual conversation about one’s desire to have chips on hand during a storm ignited…well, a storm! Twitter erupted with tweets about #stormchips: who had them and who didn’t, where to get them, which ones were best and what to eat when the chips were gone! Of course it didn’t stop there. You can’t enjoy being storm-stayed without #stormbeer, #stormwine and #stormbrownies, too. The phenomenon was covered by all the major news outlets, including Huffington Post Canada.

Seeing an Opportunity on Social Media

Every brand of potato chip available in the Maritimes was featured in tweets, from local brands to big names. Every major brand of potato chips are on social media and are hopefully listening to the chatter. But one small little chip company, making “craft chips” if you will, really, really listened. Just in time for the very first snow squalls of 2015, Covered Bridge Potato Chips of Hartland, NB, launched their newest flavour of chips.

It is such a natural fit I can’t believe someone didn’t think of it before. Then again, it’s only been a “thing” for about a year and these things do take time. Covered Bridge has a good following on Twitter @CBChips and Covered Bridge Potato Chips on Facebook, so clearly they are monitoring what the world around them is saying about chips. Kudos to them for seizing this opportunity, which will now reap their little company free publicity for the foreseeable future.

Lolë Halifax Gets a “Crash” Course in Crisis Management

It’s something you certainly hope doesn’t happen very often. Especially when your staff are accustomed to standing in that very spot during slow periods to watch the crowds walking by. The staff at local women’s clothing boutique Lolë on Spring Garden Road witnessed something I’m sure they’d be happy to never see again, and their crisis management hats came out.

Yes, you’re seeing that correctly…a car (actually a taxi) crashed through their window during evening business hours, after hitting a pedestrian in the crosswalk right outside their store. Luckily reports indicate the pedestrian and the driver were not seriously injured. Once staff knew everyone was ok, they decided to have a little fun with the situation…turning lemons into lemonade, so to speak. But, their social media manager assures me, it was ONLY because they knew everyone was ok. You could never get away with this type of humour if the driver or pedestrian had been killed, for example.

The witty posts just keep flowing, on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. And the fans are eating it up! Lots of clapping emojii and supportive comments are heating up their winter right now. A little levity in a bad situation seems to go a long way towards encouraging engagement.

Kudos to Lolë Halifax for not only keeping their fans in the loop about unplanned closings and cancellations, but for being able to find some humour in a bad situation.

How Grateful is Halifax?

When I saw this video from Steve Foran, the Gratitude Guy, I was blown away. Not only was I thrilled with the result (and yes, I did watch through to the very end), I couldn’t help but think this was such a great example of simple, local content marketing that any small business could do. Seriously. Anyone with a phone and some basic editing skills can do this.

How to Create Simple Video Content

I asked Steve how he made this video and what equipment/help he had. It was so simple it’s really unbelievable. It sounds like the hardest part is coming up with the idea.

Steve has some help in his business from a marketing freelancer. While many of Steve’s blogs are done hand-held, or with a tripod on his deck, in this case, his marketing guy took care of the camera from an out-of-the-way location and then edited this into the video. Seriously, two guys and a cell phone camera. That’s what it takes to produce simple video content. Video editing programs are easy to find, either on the computer or even right on your phone. Add some branded logos and text, mix in royalty-free or purchased music and a few dings and VOILA! You’ve got a video.

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Halifax Harbour Bridge Does Dubstep

One day I happened on a video from Halifax Harbour Bridges I thought was worthy of sharing. Here is, let’s be honest, a pretty boring topic…the bridges that connect two of the communities that make up Halifax. Hey, bridges are nice and all…and they help us get from Halifax to Dartmouth, but really, on a daily basis, how much is there to say about a bridge?

The communications team at Halifax Harbour Bridges is doing a great job of keeping the city informed during a major renovation project, loving dubbed “The Big Lift”. For anyone not local, they are practically rebuilding the deck of the bridge over 18 months or so (the deck is the part you drive across). This means major interruptions in travel patterns as the bridge undergoing renovations is the main access to our downtown business district from the Dartmouth side of the harbour. Of all the complaints I’ve heard about this process, I can’t say once I’ve heard anything negative about the communications efforts. People might complain about the reno being behind schedule, or the bridge being closed, but they are well informed!

Because I don’t travel across that bridge more than a couple of times a year, I haven’t really been paying close attention to everything they’re doing to keep regular users up to date, although I did hear a radio ad the other night. The website has a big green “Open” button to let you know the bridge is open (I assume it turns red when it’s closed). And there is a convenient app you can download to have the open/closed information at your finger tips! As well, the site has current traffic conditions on each of the bridges.

Watching the building of a bridge is infinitely interesting to me, as is any major building project, but I don’t get to see much of this particular project. So when I see pictures of a big hole in the bridge I always stop and look in awe of the wonders of engineering. When this video came up on my newsfeed I had to watch it twice. Halifax bridges doing dubstep? WHAAAAAA?

What I love about this campaign

  1. It makes mundane daily happenings interesting. Bridges=boring. Holes in bridges, disruptions in traffic patterns, dancing bridges = interesting! LOOOOOK at those sparks flying!
  2. It is educational and informative. Can you believe how many people it takes to remove and replace a piece of a bridge? Did you know they’re doing this overnight to minimize disruptions?
  3. They didn’t need to do any of this type of content. They could have simply had a schedule posted and hoped things went accordingly. I think they’ve gone out of their way to show the entire story behind what is causing all the disruption and to make your morning commute as smooth as possible under the circumstances.

In the age of social media we’ve come to expect this kind of communication. I don’t think the bridge commission had to create an app, put a button on the website, or make this video, but it says alot about their respect for the commuters that they are doing all of this to keep them informed, I think.

Coin Coin “Piggybanks” on a Birthday

When famed Canadian artist Alex Colville passed away, there were lots of messages of condolence and remembrance on social media that day, but Coin Coin’s posts really stood out. Call it luck if you want, but Renee had to know her stuff to seize this opportunity.

bunny nickel ring Coin Coin designs

This was the first post I saw, featuring a ring she made for a client with the Alex Colville designed bunny. Nowhere in this post is she trying to sell you. It’s pure, timely information. Obviously she posted this piece that day because of the news of his death, but she did it in an informational, celebratory way… not in a way that seems to take advantage of his death. Looking a little further I found she had another post, which I found very interesting, too.

Coin Coin Winning Post 2

I’m going to admit, I really had no idea who Alex Colville was. Art isn’t really my thing. I did however find it very interesting that he had designed some of our coins and he lived just an hour or so away from me. These two posts gave me relevant information about the “story of the day” in a way that I would digest it and remember it. And of course, I will always remember Coin Coin when I see these coins. So, for making the day’s news relevant and for using positive social media tactics, Coin Coin is included here.

Using ThrowBackThursday to Make a Point

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In this great Throwback Thursday (#TBT) tweet, it could be worth a thousand pounds… of infill!

This tweet by @SaveBedfordBasin caught my eye. I was appropriately shocked by the change in the Bedford Basin’s shoreline. When you drive by the changes daily, it’s easy to forget those buildings are standing where water used to be.

Kudos to Sandra, the manager of @SaveBedfordBasin for the great use of a very popular meme to further the cause and awareness about the infilling. This is a common tactic used in advocacy speeches, presentations, campaigns… why not adapt it to social media posts?

Social media doesn’t have to be difficult. Sometimes the simplest things work the best. There are lots of memes and trends out there. I’m sure you can find one to fit your business or cause. You just need to get creative.

Froyo Enters #TheDress Debate

I was pleasantly surprised to see local business, CherryBerry Halifax jump in with a different twist. In fact, this was the first one I saw, even though many others had come and gone in the days prior. KUDOS to Cherry Berry Halifax for making their product somehow relevant to the conversation.

Why CherryBerry’s Tweet is a Winner

  • It was well-timed. #TheDress went viral on February 26 and their tweet was only about 24 hours later.
  • They put a little effort into it. They used a picture of their product and changed the colours to fit the discussion. It’s not perfect, but everyone got it.
  • They were having a little fun! Showing personality is so important to bulding relationships on Twitter.
  • As far as I know, they were the only local, small business to do something to play on #thedress.

Can Small Businesses use Trending Discussions to Win at Social Media?

Pretty much every business in Halifax could have done something with colour options and tagged #TheDress to become part of the conversation. Makeup vendors could have shown two eye makeup options. Our many dress boutiques could have shown their own wares. Graphic designers had umpteen options available. Before you jump in consider this:

  • Could your participation in this discussion reflect negatively on your brand? Be sure you understand what the debate is about before jumping in.
  • Do you know the origins and intents behind that hashtag? Don’t pull a DiGiorno.
  • Can you make it relevant to your brand? Don’t just chime in hoping droves of people will suddenly start to follow you or buy your product. Put in a little effort and make your product/service fit the conversation.
  • Is it too late? CherryBerry was F-A-S-T. If they were to put that tweet out two weeks later, it wouldn’t have the same effect.
  • Is it too soon? Be very careful if you’re thinking of including references to any tragic event in your tweets/posts. It’s almost never appropriate and almost always garners negative attention.
  • Can you have fun with this? Do you have the ability/latitude to use a little humour? If you’re corporate brand is very stoic, jumping on the bandwagon might not be a good idea.

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