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Starbucks And The 4 Keys To Social Media Engagement

June 14, 2010

It is a ritual, either on your way to work or after you have opened the laptop or logged in. It doesn’t matter when but most of us do it. Starbucks 4 keys to social media engagementWe pop down to the corner coffee shop or cafe and and order our latte, cappucino, flat white or even a soy version of all of the above… in fact I have my soya flat white with no sugar right next to me now provided by my local barista called affectionately ‘BJ’.  We chat to the barista or the waitress as we wait for the morning brew, it is part of our offline  rituals that makes starting the day engaging and social.

For most coffee shops their total marketing plan is a loyalty card.. you know the one I mean.. buy 5 cups get the sixth one free and that is where it mostly stops.

Marketing is becoming more digital and stores and brands that primarily rely on offline marketing such as newspapers, television and other mass media and continue to ignore the importance of  the digital world will find it increasingly difficult to engage with their customers and will be overwhelmed by competitors that understand that for most businesses the future is web and social online engagement, even if it is not an online store.

The challenge for bricks and mortar companies and stores is “thinking” digital and online and “immersing” your business in it.

Digital immersion does not come naturally for offline brands as it hard to develop that mindset when you are not a technology company or unfamiliar with the web and its fast moving channels.

Starbucks is a plain old bricks and mortar coffee shop. They have not worked out how to digitise the coffee but they have worked out how to engage their customers both in the the store and in cyberspace. Just this week they have announced free unlimited wireless internet in all their stores and along with that are providing a whole range of content such as the Wall Street Journal that is normally behind paid walls. According to the Chief Information Officer at Starbucks, Stephen Gillett, the goal is to bring the overall Starbucks in-store experience online.

Starbucks Social Media Engagement Channel Facebook

In a report by Altimeter Starbucks was found to be the most social media engaged brand out of the Worlds top 100 most valuable brands despite the fact that they are a not a technology company and the top 10 included companies like Google and Amazon that live and breathe digital oxygen.

So what are the 4 key elements that were identified by the study as crucial for engagement with your customers.

1. Emphasize quality not just quantity

Engagement is more than just setting up a blog and letting viewers post comments; it’s more than just having a Facebook profile and having others write on your wall. It’s also about keeping your blog content fresh and replying to comments; it’s building your friends network and updating your profile status. Don’t just check the box; engage with your customer audience.

2. To scale engagement make social media part of everyone’s job

The best practice interviews have a common theme — social media is no longer the responsibility of a few people in the organization. Instead, it’s important for everyone across the organization to engage with customers in the channels that make sense — a few minutes each day spent by every employee adds up to a wealth of customer touch points.

3. Doing it all may not be for you – but you must do something

The optimal social media marketing strategy will depend on a variety of factors, including your industry. If your most valuable customers do not depend on or trust social media as a communication medium, or if your organization is resistant to engagement in some channels, you will have to start smaller and slower. But start you must, or risk falling far behind other brands, not only in your industry, but across your customers’ general online experience.

4. Find your sweetspot

Engagement can’t be skin-deep, nor is it a campaign that can be turned on and off. True engagement means full engagement in the channels where you choose to invest. Thus, choose carefully and advocate strongly to acquire the resources and support you will need to succeed. If you are resource-constrained, it is better to be consistent and participate in fewer channels than to spread yourself too thin.

Starbucks Social Media Engagement Channel Twitter

The VP of Brand & Content and Online Chris Bruzzo put it this way

We live in the physical world with thousands of natural touch points, so when we laid out the vision for our
social strategy, it felt like home for the brand. It’s about the relationships we form with our customers, not marketing.

Whate some of the results of this vision

  • Share price now over $20 instead of $7
  • Over 5 million Facebook fans
  • Quadrupled traffic to
  • 250 million global PR media impressions
  • 487 million global Facebook impressions

The challenge we have as companies who are in constant touch with our customers every day is to make those touch points engage rather that turn away our clients both in the offline world as well as online such as blogs, Facebook, Twitter and email or whatever your sweetspots are.

What are your sweet spot touch points with your customers and could you do it better?

9 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2010 11:21 pm

    Great post – I just finished reading “6 Pixels of Separation” by Mitch Joel and you touched on his primary theme in only a few short paragraphs. Namely, the entire world is connected, if you don’t connect your business to your customers, you will be left behind

  2. June 15, 2010 1:44 am

    I’m a frequent Starbucks customer and wifi user. They seem to have all aspects of business covered, both in the store and online.

    I’ve bought and sold Starbucks stock several times, but not over the last two years. It helped when they started paying a dividend.

  3. modelsupplies permalink
    June 15, 2010 2:37 am

    Starbucks is definitely The Hip coffee company. They’re cool enough to be a nice gift – that’s when you know you’ve made it 😉 Beautiful post, Jeff~!!

    Anita @ModelSupplies

  4. June 16, 2010 3:42 am

    One thing I would add to this (because it drives me crazy that Starbucks is NOT doing it) is location marketing. Yes, Starbucks offers a free frappucino to the mayor of each of their locations. But, unless the mayor changes daily (and not even in Chicago, where there are a zillion stores does the mayor change daily – I know because I held the title for months), they are targeting a very finite number of people. Add, on top of that, the percentage of people that will actually order the frappucino (I don’t) and your audience is even smaller.

    With location, you now have access to all of your customer data – what time they come in, how often they come in, how long they spend in the store, what they buy, how much they spend, and all of their demographic information.

    What if, instead, they offered me a free drink, the kind I actually order every day, for every 10th check-in? Or a free one for every 20th friend I bring with me? Drive people into the store for something they really want. In the digital age, you can definitely target one-to-one vs. one-to-many.

    I think I’ve thought about this too much. 🙂

  5. June 16, 2010 2:04 pm

    Terrific post, Jeff! Indeed, Starbucks “gets” connecting with customers… hence, “The Starbucks Experience”.. unfortunately far too many businesses think a few tweets IS Social Media.. nice to see a company who takes it to the next level.

  6. June 16, 2010 8:27 pm

    Nice post. Starbuck is really doing an amazing job and leading with way with socail engagement.

    We have nice numbers of Facebook fans but we are struggling with the engagement. Maybe its the content, maybe it’s something else. I do know is we will get it figured out and push forward.


  7. Mike Lynn permalink
    July 8, 2010 6:40 am

    Sorry, I still am not getting a “digital aroma”. When Starbucks or Peets can do this, the web “chatter”/”twit” will become more relevant. It’s about smell and taste – a Startbuck’s digital community is not so relevant to me as the infusion of aromas that are a great cup of coffee, freshly brewed.


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