Starbucks’ Social Media Strategies
The first Starbucks was established in Seattle, Washington in 1971. At first the founders of Starbuck had intended to sell equipment for coffee making and whole roasted coffee beans. Currently, the company operates in more than 23, 000 locations globally. In the United States of America, there are over 12,000 stations (Huff, 2014). While in China and Canada, there are 2,118 and 1,430 respectively. The firm's gross revenue in 2015 was USD. 19 billion, with the employee’s number standing at 191, 000 of the same year. Starbuck’s provides space for people to hang out, provides necessities, and also its trying to establish its brand in pop culture. The company wants the consumer to love the spirit, lifestyle, and concepts it is advocating (Tom McNamara, 2015). To realize its mission, Starbucks has employed interactive social media strategies that resonate with its audience.
Social Media Presence
From its inception, the company was a big technology fan. As early as 2005, the firm had started already to market its personal site at Yahoo. Additionally, the company had a channel in iTunes that was self-customized. In November 2006, the firm joined Twitter (Huff, 2014). The Twitter account was mainly used to interact with the firm's customers, retweet customers feedback and feelings, and to provide answers to the customers. Later on, in 2008, the company launched MyStarbucksidea.com, a platform to be used as a company forum (Tom McNamara, 2015). The online forum was used by the company to encourage the customers to share their ideas on what type of the flavor and new product they would love to be integrated in the restaurant menu. All these suggestions were meant to improve the firm's service delivery. Over 100,000 new ideas had been submitted in 2011 through the company's forum. Out of those Ideas, the company implemented close to 100 ideas. In November 2008, the company created the Facebook page for the public. The initial step after the (Marketing, 2016)creation of the page was to integrate the account that was already existing with the new official page. The company did not use the official page for the selling of commodity, but for promoting and updating new products and services. In order to increase the attractiveness of the Facebook page, the company created a game known as Pumpkin Spice Latte. True to its intention, the game was able to receive a lot of attention in the cyber world.
Starbuck company has social media accounts on Google+, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube (Warren, 2011). Unlike other firms, Starbucks does not have social media account that is based on the subsidiary. This ensures that consumers are not confused because of delivery of different messages by the subsidiary. The firm utilizes different platforms for distinct purposes. This is to enable the consumers to where to go when they are in of different information types (Warren, 2011). For instance, the company uses Facebook to post announcements that are social in nature, this entails the posting of links and pictures. Twitter is used by the company to establish its brand as a pop culture. On the other hand, Twitter is used as a platform for interacting directly with the customers. The company also utilizes the YouTube platform to market the company's unique life style and its brand culture.
Social Media Audience
The main target audience of Starbuck on social media is men and women between the age of 20 to 40 years. This population account for almost 50% of its customers (Oaks, 2017). The company appeals to this group of consumers through modern hip design that is in line with its decor and advertising. The company also tries to work to maintain its current products as a symbol of status. Their customers seem to be urban with an average income that is high, focused on social welfare, and professionals. The annual growth of this target audience is an average of 3 percent.
An average of 40% of the total sales made by Starbucks, is sold to youths between the age of 18 and 24 years (www.brittonmdg.com, 2017). The company through its social media accounts position itself as a place where young people can hang out, write term papers, meet people, and study. The company appeals to this audience directly as through technology, focusing on cultivating actively through social media a cool image. This type of audience is estimated to grow at a rate of 4.7 percent annually (www.brittonmdg.com, 2017).
Teens and Kids
Teens and kids also form a large segment of Starbucks audience. Generally, consumers aged between 13 to 17 years’ accounts for 2 percent of total sales made by the company (www.brittonmdg.com, 2017). However, parents are the one who purchases most of the items needed by this audience. The company has integrated products for the kids such as Babyccinos, caffeinated, and sugary which have grown to be popular among teenagers. Mostly this audience goes there with their parents and each is able to leave the premise with a cup in hand. Meanwhile, teens utilize Starbucks as a place to study or hang out with friends (www.brittonmdg.com, 2017). The company uses social media to position itself as the best place for the kid to hang out and have a good time. Though the company does not cater directly to teens like having the low caffeine and calories in their drinks, but it does make its products to be friendly to kids like having special sizes offers for kids.
Social Media Marketing
With social media marketing, Starbuck is among the leading major brands. In the survey, the Starbuck coffee chain was voted as the most loved brand out of the 3, 400 global brands (AdvertisingAge, 2016). The company is able to compete favorably by having strategic social media marketing that is very vibrant. The following are the reasons behind the success of Starbuck coffee chain:
Superior Audience Influence
Starbucks cultivates its current relationships instead of mainly focusing its efforts on getting new customers. In the long run, this ensure that the company has more followers, as well as the continued advocates of the brand. This is replicated across the board (Dua, 2016). The company highly value in-store experiences in relation to online engagement, which highly emphasize the significance of customer service.
Starbuck company encourages sharing of the experiences (Dua, 2016). The happy customers are able to share offers and their experiences with others. For instance, the company's holiday promotion of Buy One Get One got an amazing amount of engagement on social media, especially on Facebook where there were enormous likes, comments, and shares.
Customizing of the Experiences
Every consumer want to feel valued and not as a disposable dollar. The company provides that experience through programs such as Personalized Signature and My Starbucks Rewards (Aelita Skaržauskien). Their social media accounts, specifically Instagram and Pinterest, motivates users to share their moments at Starbucks. Customers are able to share photos of their artsy cup of coffee or their favorite holiday drink.
The company utilizes al social media accounts to promote its products. For instance, when the company takes a photo, that photo is posted on Facebook, pinned on Pinterest, shared on Instagram, and it is tweeting on Twitter. As the world becomes more focused on the digital aspect, it is becoming highly important to use social cross-promotion (Huff, 2014). Each social network avails the opportunity for the company to reach out to new audiences. This has helped the company to increase its visibility through the integration of their strategies. The company realizes that each group of different social networking sites, responds distinctly from each other. As a result, the company optimizes each message based on the social network being utilized.
Ethics, Privacy and Security
Starbucks coffee chain believes in striving to do the right thing and conducting ethical business. The company has adopted an ethical program, Business Ethics and Compliance that is consistent with the company’s mission and vision. The program supports the company by protecting its culture and values by availing resources that help all stakeholders to make an informed decision (www.starbucks.com, 2017). Through the program, the company is able to create and disseminate awareness materials which includes the ethics training and legal compliance, and Standard of Business Conduct. Customers are encouraged to report any business misconduct through a range of communication channels offered by the company including the social media accounts.
It is of the utmost significance for the company to declare its stand on different issues that supports their business. Starbuck believes that it has the responsibility to advocate for both public and internal policies that supports the community it serves, the employees, and the business itself (www.starbucks.com, 2017). The firm has adopted policies from global standards of ethical business ranging from social responsibility, work place, and ethical sourcing policies. Some of the specific policies the firm is committed to include Corporate Political Contribution and Expenditure, Standards of Business Conduct, Global Human Rights, UN Global Impact, and Supplier Code of Conduct.
The policies and positions below demonstrate our commitment to being a responsible business. They range from global ethical business standards to our own guidelines for doing business (www.starbucks.com, 2017). From how we buy our coffee to how we ensure the best possible workplace for our partners, we believe it is important to operate consistent with our mission: to inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup and one neighborhood at a time
Starbucks coffee chain takes the issues of security very seriously. The company protects their customers from malicious activities. It takes the responsibility of scrutinizing the online accounts of its users to see if there is any unauthorized activity. The company works closely with other reputable financial institutions to ensure that their customers’ financial information is secured maximumly. Customers are encouraged to occasionally change their user names and passwords so as to reduce fraudulent activities in their account. Additionally, customers are encouraged to contact their respective financial institutions and Starbucks in the event that they have detected any malicious activity on their financial accounts.
Social Media Technologies
Social media technologies refer to the digital social networks such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, etc. (Aelita Skaržauskien). Starbuck has managed to perform better than other consumer brands in terms of engagement with the community, despite focusing on an approach that is opposite.
Starbuck is among the leading consumer brands that are highly liked on the Facebook. Its total number of likes stand at 33 million fans. This, makes it the second most loved brands on Facebook apart from Facebook itself which has 90 million fans. Another company that has a close number of followers is Walmart. Walmart boasts of 27 million followers on Facebook. However, Starbucks and Walmart have adopted distinctive social media strategies.
In terms of updating the Facebook page, Walmart does it several times on a daily basis with posts which include caption competition, suggestions, and sports chat. The company considers frequent updates as a way of maintaining the engagement of followers. However, this is quite different with Starbucks, since the firm can go for weeks without posting anything on Facebook. Nonetheless, when the company posts an image of an attractive product, it receives hundreds of comments and thousands of comments. For instance, when the company posted Where It All Started photo, it was able to attract 2200 comments and 160000 likes on Facebook.
The company's social media team does not respond frequently to the majority of the comments. Starbucks high engagement and massive fan base help to underline that there are some fast and hard social media rules. Other brands such as Walmart and John Lewis posts on their accounts many daily updates and respond to comments. However, Starbuck does opposite of these brands and still it outshines them on Facebook.
Starbuck has also local pages for other international markets such as the United Kingdom. These pages have adopted similar strategies in terms of posts' frequency. Nonetheless, the content is different, coupons, videos, and surveys being among the product images. The UK Starbucks is the only brand that includes the posts of several users in a timeline.
On average on its main Tweeter feed Starbucks tweets less than 10 times a day. Generally, this is a relaxed attitude. Every couple of days the company tweets couples of links to its loyalty schemes and product images. However, most of Starbuck posts are feedbacks to @mentions. The content is mostly a Facebook repurposed, and uninspiring, but still, the company has managed to secure more than 3.6 million followers. Whereas other brands allow the social teams to engage the followers in the conversation and inject into their Tweeter feeds their personality, the content of Starbuck is somehow bland. This can be interpreted that the company is trying to avoid getting caught in controversy. But fairly, it is also unambitious.
The feed from the Starbucks UK in comparison with other brands such as ASOS is relatively quiet. The company tweets also less than 10 times a day. The company should focus on increasing its responses to users' tweets. The most conspicuous thing about the Tweeter account of Starbuck is the Christmas promotional campaign, it suffered on at the Natural History Museum. The company failed to monitor what was being posted on its hashtag message, #HYPERLINK "https://twitter.com/search?q=%23spreadthecheer&data-src=typd"spreadthecheer that was displayed on a large screen next to an ice rink in the National Museum.
While the Starbucks Twitter and Facebooks pages are equally uninspiring, the company has one of the best Pinterest accounts so far. Their Pinterest account has attracted more than 77000 fans. This is so considering that the company has only seven boards. In comparison with other companies like Walmart, which has only 12 000 fans with their 65 boards and the ASOS' s 25000 fans with their 13 boards, Starbuck is performance is exemplary.
The boards are full outstanding image sourced from the third-party websites. This is a significant aspect of establishing a successful strategy of Pinterest. In 2012, the company offered fans an opportunity to win a coffee machine. This was to be won if the followers create a successful board named It is Possible. Then they were supposed to pin a minimum of six photos to it.
The company has successfully adopted the use of Google+ as a social media technology. Starbucks has more than a million fans on their Google+ account. The company updates the account after a few days with the content being taken from their Twitter feed and Facebook page. In comparison with other brands, the Starbucks' Google+ account is very vibrant. On average the account receives more than 100 comments and hundreds of +1s from each posted update.
Starbucks applies all social media accounts by stretching its content across the accounts. As such, the Instagram feed is not unique. The account has more than a million fans and its appearance also looks stunning. However, all the content on the Instagram is familiar with the content on other sites, with slightly remarkable difference in terms of appearance. The main idea of using all these social media technologies is to ensure that the brand has positioned itself as a lifestyle choice.
From the case of Starbucks, one learns that the best way to reduce social media and increase the rate of return on investment, is to have a social media marketing strategy that is well planned and which covers substantial part of the business. One way a business can stand out from the crowd is the adoption of visual in the social networking. Starbuck has managed to integrate visual in their social media accounts, which in turn has had significant positive impact as reflected by the increase in the numbers of total sale. As a result, the company has become one of the leading fast food brands in terms of successful implementation of social media strategies. Starbuck has enhanced its social media presence by effectively adopting social media technologies such as Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, and Google+.
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