6 ways Starbucks excels at social media marketing

Take some cues on how to engage your customer base from the omnipresent coffee retailer.

An introduction to Starbucks is unnecessary. With more than 18,000 retail locations in 60 countries, the ubiquitous coffeehouse is the picture of success. It could probably shun social media and still be all right—as long as customers get their caffeine fix.

Instead, Starbucks has branched out in the digital realm. With a strong presence on multiple social networks, the brand has set a high bar for other businesses when it comes to content quality and customer engagement.

As shown in this infographic, Starbucks is at or near the top of nearly every major brand ranking in social media. The coffee chain was also voted “most loved” out of 3,400 food brands in a survey.

Starbucks’ ability to wear so many hats—corporate success, “local” favorite, and Internet sensation—warrants strategic examination. The following is a breakdown of why Starbucks is a social media marketing success story:

1. It has “super influencers:” Instead of solely focusing efforts on accumulating new customers, it cultivates its 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—emphasizing the importance of customer service.

2. It encourages sharing: Those happy customers are eager to share good experiences and offers. For example, the Starbucks holiday promotion “buy 1 get 1” garnered an extraordinary amount of engagement on Facebook through comments, “likes,” and shares.

3. It customizes the experience: Consumers want to feel like valued individuals, not disposable dollars. Starbucks provides that through programs such as 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.

4. Its causes are timely and consistent: Coffee drinkers are known for brand loyalty, and giving consumers a charitable reason to buy that steaming cup is beneficial for all. The takeaway from Starbucks is to know your customer and tie that in with what matters in the world—so, pay attention to how your brand can fit into trending topics.

5. It cross-promotes: When Starbucks takes a photo, it shares it on Instagram, posts it to Facebook, tweets it on Twitter, pins it on Pinterest—well, you get the idea. Social cross-promotion gains importance as the world becomes more digitally focused.

Each network provides an opportunity to reach a new audience, and integrating your strategy on each is crucial to increasing visibility. Just remember that those distinct groups respond to different marketing messages, and each message should be optimized in relation to the network.

6. Starbucks makes it count: Its mission is “to inspire and nurture the human spirit—one person, one cup, and one neighborhood at a time.” Taking the focus off money has helped it make more—lifting customers up will lead to loyalty. Its “The Way I See It” quote campaign is an inspiring example.

Starbucks is one of many businesses we can learn from. Please posts your comments below, offering questions or your own great examples of social marketing strategies.

Courtney Gibb is a content writer, marketer and social strategist at ZOG Digital, a search and social media marketing technology company in Scottsdale, Ariz. Follow them on Twitter @ZOGDigital. A version of this article originally appeared on the ZOG Digital Blog.

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