An introduction to Starbucks is unnecessary. With over 18,000 retail stores in 60 countries, the renowned coffee house is the picture of success. In fact, this prosperous business could likely shun social media and still be quite alright – as long as customers get their caffeine fix.
Instead, they’ve taken their rule to the digital realm. Beginning in 1971, Starbucks has transitioned seamlessly into the era of the internet by way of social media domination. With an incredible presence on multiple networks, the brand set a high precedent for other businesses when it comes to content quality and customer engagement.
As shown above in the infographic, Starbucks is on top of nearly every major brand in social media. The coffee house was also voted “most loved” out of 3,400 food brands in a survey.
Starbucks’ ability to wear so many hats ubiquitously – to be a corporate success, a “local” favorite and an internet sensation – is rare and therefore in need of strategic examination. The following is a breakdown of a few of the reasons why Starbucks is a social marketing maven.
- They have “super influencers:” Instead of solely focusing efforts on accumulating new customers, they cultivate current relationships. This ensures more fans/followers in the long run, as well as the continued existence of brand advocates. This holds true across the board – in-store experiences are highly valued along with online engagement, further necessitating the importance of customer service.
- They encourage sharing: Those same happy customers from above are eager to share good experiences and offers (so give them a reason to!). For example, the Starbucks holiday promotion “buy 1 get 1” garnered an extraordinary amount of engagement on Facebook through comments, likes and shares.
- They customize a unique experience: Consumers want to feel like valued individuals, not disposable dollars. Starbucks provides that by way of programs like My Starbucks Rewards, personalized “signature” drinks and localized store experiences. Their social sites, in particular Pinterest and Instagram, encourage users to share their Starbucks moments – whether it be the return of a favorite holiday drink or just an artsy coffee cup shot.
- Their causes are timely and consistent: Coffee drinkers are known for brand loyalty (hence the term “caffeine addiction”), and giving consumers a charitable reason to buy that inevitable cup of coffee is beneficial for all involved. The takeaway from Starbucks is to know your customer and tie that in with what matters in the world – pay attention to how your brand can fit into trending topics.
- They cross-promote: When Starbucks takes a photo, they: share it on Instagram, post it to Facebook, tweet it on Twitter, pin it on Pinterest… you get the idea. Social cross-promotion continues to become more important as the world becomes more digitally focused. Each network provides the opportunity to reach a new target audience, and integrating your strategy on each is critical in increasing visibility. Just remember that those different groups respond to different marketing messages, and each message should be optimized in relation to the network.
- They make it count: Their mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time.” Taking the focus off of money has ultimately helped them make more – lifting customers up will lead to loyalty. Their “The Way I See It” quote campaign is an inspiring example. Below is another lovable Starbucks branding method.
Starbucks is one of many businesses we can learn from! Stay tuned as we continue to examine what defines brand success in digital marketing. In the meantime, comment below and let us know if you have any questions or if you have other examples of great social marketing strategies!
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