The following memo will address the use of social media for the Starbucks Organization. A brief introduction to Starbucks will be given along with an introduction to social media. Key points that will be addressed include the types of social media used in relation to the rhetorical situation (audience, purpose, and context) in which the social media connection is used, how Starbucks uses the context of the social platform for an intended purpose to a specific audience, and the extent to which Starbucks uses its social media presence in an effective manner.
Starbucks Overview The Starbucks Corporation was formed in 1985 and today operates in over fifty countries. Starbucks operates under the company’s objective to “stand as one of the most recognized and respected brands in the world” (Starbucks). The company has found a large-scale and interactive way to do this: social media. With over 28 million ‘likes’ on Facebook, 2 million followers on Twitter, and the company’s own social media site, MyStarbucksIdea, Starbucks is finding innovative and creative ways to connect with customers (Starbucks).
Social Media Overview Social Media is described by professors at Tufts University as, “media used to collectively describe a set of tools that foster interaction, discussion and community, allowing people to Web Communications build relationships and share information” (). Some of the most visited social media sites include Facebook, Twitter, Digg, YouTube, Foursquare, and Flickr. While there are common constituents in each social media site, there are also key differences that make each site unique.
Starbucks and Social Media Starbucks has had a social media following for many years and continues to find innovative and interactive ways to manage customer responsiveness. As most companies view social media as a marketing channel, Starbucks views these platforms as a consumer relationship-building environment. After experimenting over the last few years with external social media sites, Starbucks came up with MyStarbucksIdea, their own internal social media site. While Starbucks is involved and diffused in various social media sites, the four social media platforms that will be discussed are Facebook, Twitter, MyStarbucksIdea, and Foursquare. Starbucks uses each of these platforms to reach existing and new customers and to gain interaction with customers.
Starbucks and Facebook Starbucks uses Facebook mainly as an information source to their audience. Their audience, based off the comments on the page, consists of individuals who often drink their products and are loyal to the company. The purpose of the Facebook page is to provide information to consumers on the locations, hours, and drink specials of their products. The most common content on the page is the uploads of photos from users and the invitations sent to group members on Starbucks events happening in their geography.
Starbucks and Twitter Starbucks engages with its customers on twitter by answering questions, sending retweets, and discovering what people are saying about the brand. This method creates an open communication channel to speak with their followers and gets users more involved in the company. Often, Starbucks will send tweets to followers answering their questions on customer service related content. An example of this can be seen below in which an individual did not receive their free drink on their birthday.
The twitter page is mostly used for their audience related to customer service; however the content on the page focuses around resolving problems for customers. This is a way for Starbucks to show their dedication to customers and help resolve any issues they face. Regardless of Twitter having fewer likes than Facebook has followers, Twitter is the main source of social media Starbucks utilized.
My Starbucks Idea In response to the boom of social media, Starbucks has launched their own social media platform known as My Starbucks Idea. On the site customers are asked to share their ideas on anything related to Starbucks. Through the site, users are able to see what others are suggesting, vote on ideas and check out the results. Users are able to see whether an idea is under review, reviewed, in the works, or launched. This site is unique and gives Starbucks a competitive advantage in social media and strategy. Users are able to feel as though they have a voice in the company and the decision making process, which is not found in many companies. An example of a launched idea is below:
Starbucks and Foursquare The use of Foursquare is allowing Starbucks users to break down the walls between the virtual world and reality. Rather than posting on Facebook, Twitter, or MyStarBucksIdea.com, users are now able check-in at their local stores and be seen as a real consumer, not just a post on a wall. By checking in to five different locations, a user gains the Barista Badge from Starbucks. Foursquare has also provided users with Mayorship of individual stores to receive discounts on beverages. Foursquare can also be used as a location finder as a user is able to find the closest Starbucks to their current location. Foursquare and Twitter have joined together in the effort to increase the use of social media; when you check in to a location such as Starbucks you are able to share this with your followers on Twitter. The audience of Starbucks on Foursquare would be the consumers who visit Starbucks locations frequently enough to have a presence in the virtual platform. The purpose in this form of social media is to influence customers to become more involved in the company through the check-in process.
Recommendations Through the multiple social media channels Starbucks uses, the only recommendation to any of these sites to suggest would be to increase their awareness of Foursquare. In relation to their focus and usage, Twitter, Facebook, and MyStarbucksIdea all have a relative amount of followers. Foursquare on the other spectrum only has approximately 350,000 followers. With over two million followers on Twitter and 28 million on Facebook, Starbucks should have more followers on Foursquare since this would include all the visitors to the store. Users that see their friends at a local Starbucks would be more likely to visit, leading to an increase in the amount of visitors. If Starbucks is able to increase their visibility of Foursquare, they will most likely to able to increase their store visitors and repeat customers.
Conclusion As social media continues to be see exponential growth, the use of social media by businesses will become increasing important. The current social media strategy used by Starbucks is used as an example of what other businesses should be doing. By implementing integrated platforms for users to connect and interact with the company, Starbucks is opening up new ways for customers to become involved. Starbucks focuses on their core audience of social media users, the purpose of persuading these individuals to visit stores and make purchases, and the context of blogs, promotions, and rewards to fully promote their business. Through the use of social media, Starbucks will continue to grow and be a successful business.
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