Victoria's Best Social Businesses--What They Do Right And What You Can Learn

As a digital marketing professional, I'm lucky to live in one of the most social (media) cities in Canada. Many of our social media influencers were among the first to take up Twitter as a community-building tool, and we have some of the foremost social media professionals this side of the Rockies doing their work in our beautiful city. It might be because social media work is rather flexible and can be done from anywhere; where else but in Victoria would you want to live if you had the chance?

Our marketing pros are definitely at the forefront of using social media for business. Whether it's for the tourism and hospitality industry (a big piece of the business pie around here), the tech startups (a growing piece of the pie) or even higher education, our businesses and institutions have set best practices for social media for years. We've been inspired by--and learned from--many of them here at Stikky Media. Here are some of the businesses in Victoria who do a great job at being social.

1. Cabin 12 

Local restaurant Cabin 12 has hosted the Victoria tweetup for years, at least ever since I started going, sometime in 2011. Their Twitter feed is a prime example of great social engagement, with a mix of food photos (all right, let's be honest: food porn), funny quips, sports encouragement (go Habs go indeed!) and chats with customers. 

Through this great engagement, Cabin 12 has become a local haunt for local social media enthusiasts. I mean, you can even pay your bill in Bitcoins! The owners have always believed in the power of social media and use it really well too. 

2. Butchart Gardens

Among the premium tourist attractions in Victoria sits the world-famous Butchart Gardens. I've had the chance to interview the social media manager for an article I wrote, and I really admire the way he approaches his work strategically.

Among other things, he mentioned how his particular destination is really good for an Instagram account. Having followed it for a while, I must say I agree; when your business deals in beautiful things (fashion, flowers, home decor), a visual network like Instragram or Pinterest is the perfect way to promote your business online.

3. Monk Office

For something boring like office supplies, you'd expect that social media engagement wouldn't be the most effective way to use your marketing time. However, Monk Office, a Victoria-based office supplies company, shows that the opposite is true. From an engaged Facebook page with business information, contests and funny stories to a Twitter account that promotes local events, environmental sustainability and excellent content, Monk stays connected to the companies (and employees) who use its products on a daily basis.

Monk also takes advantage of Pinterest to showcase its office designs and furniture, along with a bunch of boards related to office and art supplies. I love Monk's integrated strategy and how it uses every channel differently. It's a prime example of a successful local company leveraging social media for B2B purposes.

4. Smiths Pub

After a friend of mine complained on Twitter that she was served a shaken instead of a stirred martini, Smiths Pub told her she was put on the "stirred only" list. According to my friend, they've been as good as their word.

Listening to your customers on social media is an essential skill that all businesses should master. People are talking about you; if you're not listening, your voice can't be included in the conversation. 

Also, they're the local Habs bar, which means that they're awesome. But that's just the Montrealer in me. 

5. Victoria Police Department

Although the Victoria Police Department isn't a business per se, its engagement on social media has been an example that every public organization should follow. Along with a fascinating blog that tells the stories of the Victoria beat, VicPD uses Facebook and Twitter to share stories, alert citizens of accidents or ongoing operations, and ask the public for help in locating missing people or providing information on wanted criminals. 

VicPD knows that the success of many of its investigations and operations rely on the public's trust and cooperation; joining them on social media is a smart move to be a more integral and trusthworthy part of the everyday life of Victorians.

What can we learn?

Through these examples of successful social media engagement from businesses (and organizations) to the Victoria community, we learn that finding the right channel, social listening, an integrated strategy and some great stories are key elements. Not every channel is right for your brand, and not every channel should be used the same way. Moreover, your efforts and time will be better spent if you have a strategy informing your interactions and if you have interesting stories to share.

Who's your favourite social business in Victoria or in your city? Did we miss anyone you like? Tell us who we should feature in a future post!