How Starbucks is one brand that actually got the social media thing right

In Marketing and Sales, Social media by Krista


I've blogged endlessly about social media as a new challenge—albeit an equally prodigious opportunity—for major brands.

Smart brands understand how important social media is, but many have failed miserably in the execution phase. Nearly all have struggled with actually engaging customers (or, with keeping them engaged).

Why is this?

Perhaps there have been some teething issues as B2C enterprises start relying more on social media as a legitimate outlet for marketing and promoting their brand (or product). And with the onset of new social media vehicles such as Pinterest gaining traction, brands have to be more adaptable than ever.

But the more likely cause of this rampant customer disinterest (or in the of worst cases, outrage… can anybody say McDonald's Twitter Fail?) can be attributed to lack of controversy, and as a consequence, lack of brand personality. Which, according to Outspoken Media, is social media suicide.

It's pretty obvious. We've all had those Facebook friends whose blazé profiles, mundane updates or general lack of interaction have caused us to click the "unfriend" button. In fact, two of the top causes behind those infamous unfriendings include an excess of trivial or unimportant content, and a lack of interesting content or posts.

Brands, be warned – lots and lots of updates about products galore isn't exactly going to enamor your Facebook friends (or cause them to stick around). Neither will playing it safe.

Starbucks is a notable exception to the bevy of boring brands. They haven't steered clear of posting highly controversial and potentially polarizing content – ranging from their positions on marriage equality, to allowing anti-gun dialogue to stay on the site instead of whitewashing any trace of potentially negative press.

On the one hand, some customers will inevitably be turned off by Starbucks' stance on core issues and will therefore boycott its products. But the opposite effect can also happen – with non-loyal customers feeling more emotionally connected to the brand and promoting further discourse/free PR as a result.

Either way, lying under the radar doesn't appear to be engendering any good will or added revenue to brands thus far. Starbucks gets what social media is about, and has served as an example to other brand peers who've yet to embrace it.

Now if only they could fix that whole bug-in-frappuccino hullabaloo…

Social media marketing will be one of the key themes at our upcoming Loyalty World series of events, including Loyalty World Mexico, May 15th-16th in Mexico City; Loyalty World Brasil, September 25th-27th in Sao Paulo and Loyalty World USA, October 29th-31st in Las Vegas. Register today to save and hear case studies from the world's biggest B2C enterprises!