Starbucks now having it’s Ha! Moment

A few weeks back I read a disturbing article on how Starbucks had failed to replicate their success on Social Media in actual sales. As one of the few self proclaimed Social Media experts in Kenya, I had quoted Starbucks in many an instance as an epitome of Getting-it-Right on Social Media. Let’s face it, 13 million Facebook Fans in a span of two years is no mean feat, even for a behemoth such as Starbucks. If you don’t believe me, ask Coca-Cola, their closest competition on Facebook who have only managed to gunner 12 million Fans despite their global presence; or if you prefer local content, why not ask Safaricom how their Facebook page is doing?

Here is why Starbucks has not failed on Social Media.

Speaking at TheGrill conference (organized by about 3 weeks ago, C.E.O Howard Schultz spoke on Starbucks’s Social Media strategy which clearly explains a point often missed out on by Social Media Critics.
When Schultz joined Starbucks as C.E.O in 2008, he says that they were ‘Way Behind’ as far as the digital revolution was concerned. In addition, a series of missteps in the mid 2000’s had seen Starbucks embrace a rigorous sales oriented approach to marketing. Sadly for them, the Social Networking revolution was already taking root, customers were already demanding a shift from the traditional in-your-face marketing, and as a result they were becoming more and more cynical of the Starbucks brand.

Starbucks was losing customer trust.

On his return to the CEO office, Schultz made rebuilding trust with the customer his number 1 priority. Social media held the promise of becoming an invaluable tool for recapturing those customers who had turned cynical, and he went for it full-on with no compromise.

A rigorous Social Media campaign ensued, and the rest as always is history.
At TheGrill conference, Schultz so rightfully said, “It has become paramount that brands understand that trust isn’t something you build through traditional marketing…You do that through integrating social and digital media. It is a science – as well as an art – to understand how to do this in a way that is authentic and genuine, and not just marketing.”

Schultz wasn’t looking to increase his 2009-2010 sales by crazy margins, he simply wanted his customers to trust the coffee maker again.This would not necessarily bring short term gains (they had 6% increase in sales in the last financial year), but would definitely benefit his brand in the long run.

Schultz is now taking it to the next level.

For the Critics who were saying, “So Starbucks has 14 Million Fans on Facebook, now what!?”, Starbucks is soon to launch the Starbucks Digital Network, a channel that can be accessed only by users of Starbucks’ free wi-fi, which is now available at each of its more than 10,000 retail stores. By partnering with the likes of Snagfilms on its network, Starbucks is looking to further stamp it’s footprint as this ‘third place’ (after home and work) in America. They are now moving to “…integrate a national footprint of our stores with the social media networks that we’ve been building”.

In simple terms, they have the Fans, and they are now integrating it into their own Digital Network to further engage them as they enjoy their coffee within its outlets.

Talk about taking a Social Media to the next level.

7 Responses to “Starbucks now having it’s Ha! Moment”

  1. 1 ricozah September 24, 2010 at 2:40 pm

    Very true bro.

    In fact i was examining the report by 360i (an award-winning digital marketing agency that drives results for Fortune 500 marketers through insights, ideas and technologies… )where by the time of their compilation of the report in July this year,Starbucks was the most engaging company on twitter with just under one million followers.

    Their key to success is what analyst called “top-down social strategy” which enhances consumer relations within the networks.

    And that should be the main drive in social media:-“engagement”

    (I will Cc you the report on twitter).

    Thanks bro.I like the analysis.


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