Smoke’s Poutinerie’s Social Media From a Brand Community Lens

In response to Lots of Facebook friends, one poutine empire published in the Globe and Mail’s Small Business section. I was struck by two things after reading this article:

  • One, the insatiable craving for roast turkey drippings – poutine would just be too obvious.
  • Two, my ambivalence to the article’s portrayal of Smoke’s social media execution.

As much as The Globe article touted Smoke’s Facebook Page as a social media marketing success they negated to mention the most obvious reason for their success — understanding their so-called “audience” as a brand community.

In Smoke’s case their target audience are 20-somethings, but their brand community also includes competitive eaters, EpicMealTime (a YouTube sensation of gluttony), indiscriminate photographing foodies, university and college student groups/associations, and so forth. Social media works for Smoke’s, not because they use it, but because their messages are aligned with the social and cultural values of their brand community. Frankly, it is unlikely that people who are not part of the Smoke’s brand community would appreciate the plastering of Smoke’s stickers in public and private places.

The author rightly emphasised that building an online community on a social media platform requires dedication and an understanding of your brand’s audience, however,  missed the important point of needing to view your brand through a wider lens to identify beyond the marketer-audience relationship. It is not simply a matter of taxonomy — audience vs community — but rather perspective. Considering your brand from a community lens means identifying the many loose social relationships that can be tapped via social media to make your Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, etc, a richer place where folks want to engage and interact with you and with each other. These folks are not simply customers, but often can be non-competitive brands and organizations. On a cursory look, this is precisely what Smoke’s did with their social media.

By connecting with university and college student groups, and guys like EpicMealTime through competition-style eating (read: eating lots and lots of poutine), they created spectacles that their community relished in. The 2.5 million+ views of the EpicMealTime episode that Smoke’s was featured in is reason enough for you to take the initiative to survey your social media strategy from a brand community lens. The next time you follow someone on Twitter, or like a Facebook Page, think about how they can make your online community a better place. If they can’t, why bother.

Nearly every brand is on a social media platform. How many brands can you think of that are approaching their social media strategy from a brand community perspective?


Nancy Huynh

Nancy graduated from Queen’s University (B.Com) and co-founded Young Urban Farmers Ltd (YUF) in 2008 with two other Queen’s graduates. YUF is now a thriving business in its 4th season. Her areas of interests are social media; food culture; real estate; and urban geography, which she has conducted graduate-level research on. When she’s not researching, she is tweeting as @soda_ninja on whatever she finds intriguing.

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