Lessons to Learn from Starbucks and Social Media

Posted by Heather Villa, CMA, MBA, MSM on April 15, 2010 in: Social Media Marketing, Tools & Resources


There is a lot of advice out there about how to “do” social media. Most of the time, it is very tactical. For example, some tactical Twitter-related advice might be: “Here’s how to tweet”; “Here’s why you should retweet”; “Here’s how to use a hashtag”; etc. We need that kind of helpful advice. But on its own, it doesn’t provide all the guidance we need. We sometimes need a more strategic bigger picture.

So when I find strategic social media advice, I’m happy. Strategic advice doesn’t worry so much about the tactical mechanics of social media and instead focuses on the purpose and outcomes. When you adopt a strong strategic social media policy, the tactical aspects of your social marketing naturally grow out of them.

This article about how Starbucks embraced social media, How Starbucks Builds Meaningful Customer Engagement via Social Media, is a must read. It’s an excellent article that gives ten strategic (not tactical) ways that Startbucks used social media. You can (and should) read the full article but I’m going to highlight a couple of points and make them applicable to you:

Tip #2: “Social media fits within a larger digital strategy”. I’d also add a “part b” that says “Social media fits within a larger marketing strategy”. This is huge and I hope small business owners are paying attention. Social media marketing should not be your sole marketing effort. If you’ve got a Twitter account and a Facebook fan page, you’ve got a good start… NOT a full-on marketing strategy. You need other forms of marketing as well as digital strategies to help close the sale.

Tip #3: “Make it clear where to start”. In this tip, the article’s author talks about how Starbucks has different channels for Jobs (StarbucksJobs), Deals (Starbucks Deals), etc. Entrepreneurs might think that they are too small to include that kind of vertical delineation but they aren’t! Think about how you can create new social marketing identities like [yourbusiness]Deals, and [yourbusiness]Clients, and [yourbusiness]Products, and [yourbusiness]FreeAdvice, and more.

Tip #4: “Look around the corners”. Read this tip. If you don’t read any of the other tips in this article, please read this tip.

Tip #8: “Focus on four responses”. Entrepreneurs wonder how to use social media, particularly if they face criticism from vocal parties. This tip gives four potential responses (not JUST for criticism but it’s really useful for that purpose). This is worth printing off and posting on your wall so you remember it and consider the consequences before you ever respond.

Tip #10: “An economic meltdown is a terrible thing to waste”. Last year, while everyone else was pulling back on marketing efforts in order to save money during the recession, Starbucks was amping up its social media effort. That should be a lesson learned for all of us: When things slow down in the economy, that is not the time to pull back to save money; it’s the time to invest in marketing even more. And when you do, you’ll come out on the other side of the recession with a stronger business and a bigger customer base.

Read this great article about Starbucks and social media and adopt their strategic practices into your own small business.

Happy blogging!

Heather Recommends:

I love working with coaches, freelancers, and entrepreneurs to help them become more successful. If you'd like to improve your business, find out how I can help.

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