Case Study: Starbucks — live from Word of Mouth Supergenius

4:00 — Kurt Vanderah introduces StarbucksMatthew Guiste.

4:01 — Matthew: I want to talk about six ways that we can create action using social media.

4:01 — Matthew: A couple of assumptions:

– You have a community and credibility in that community.

– You have a level of buy-in from management.

– You have some supergenius-ness.

– You have a thorough understanding of what your community cares about.

4:01 — Matthew: Let’s jump in.

1. Read/Watch

Always be in the lookout for little things you know your community will care about.  It doesn’t always have to be in your publishing schedule.

Ask if it adds value to the community.  You may need to test many types of content.

2. Respond

Can be characterized as “liking”, voting, commenting.

3. Sign up for further communication

Use it to amplify the trend. We noticed there was an excitement over the red cup, so we put content into the channels announcing it was “Red Cup Day” and we turned our channels red, etc. We also put advertising in Facebook to ask them to vote for their favorite holiday drink.

Listen for organic expressions of enthusiasm. Find appropriate ways to celebrate that enthusiasm.

4. Share content with someone else

Changing perceptions about products can be done by sharing content. An example is the launch of VIA. Starbucks started tracking the responses to VIA, and it turned from having negative responses pre-launch, when it was leaked, to positive responses three weeks later.

5. Buy something

Start small. We made sure we were causing the action. Then we had something called Free Pastry Day where Starbucks had a three-hour window where anybody who bought coffee can get a free pastry. Starbucks was originally going to use advertising and PR but we decided to go with digital channels exclusively.

Starbucks had 23 digital deployments. It was the biggest traffic day ever across every digital channel. More people opened the emails than we sent it to. It was the #1 topic on Twitter and it was extremely successful in store.

6. Create advocates for Starbucks

Based on Free Pastry Day, Starbucks UK wanted to launch Free Muffin Day. Unfortunately before that could be launched, negative comments on Facebook surfaced, about an old rumor that’s been going around.

Starbucks started responding to every post.

Two things happened:

a) People who had no facts to back them started to post less.

b) People who supported Starbucks started to speak up.

We also found out that the UK call center had been receiving 14 calls a week regarding this issue, and that number was reduced to 2 a week since the responses were posted on Facebook.

4:09 — Matthew: Keys to sharing content:

– Knew our communities cared about the issue.

– Had credibility in our communities.

– We acknowledged skepticism.

– Shared key reviews and information with our customers.

4:13 — Matthew: Make sure you don’t bite off more than you can chew.

4:14 — Matthew: Social media seems to be better with short-term high-intensity activities than longer-term, lower-intensity activities.

4:14 — Matthew: Coordination across channels is key,  both digital and non-digital.

4:17 — Matthew: Social media is a contact sport.


Q: How much of what you do is in the calendar and how much is more spontaneous?

A: About 50-50. We’re always on the lookout for current trends.

Q: How much of your employee participation online is structured?

A: We’re trying to have more formalized guidelines but there’s a lot of hand-holding right now. In the short-term it’s manual but we’re working to create a process.

Q: What happened since the Free Pastry program?

A: It was successful in every regard. It’s the single biggest thing we did in social media this year.

Q: Over the long haul, what are the key metrics you’ve defined as an organization that you would measure and what tools do you use?

A: It’s about the number of people are engaging with us and the level of engagement they have. We don’t track with as much numerical rigor but we’re getting to that point. Right now it’s about causing action.

Q: Do you use editorial calendars for social media and do you have a certain amount that you post on a certain day, or do you base it on what information you have?

A: We look at topics and just decide how much coverage they merit. We don’t have a formal calendar but we do have a good sense of what’s coming and the level of effort we’re putting into them.

Q: Do you use the “Red Cup” as a benchmark for future posts?

A: I think everything has a certain level of conversation that we expect. We’re trying to find the most interesting things to talk about but we don’t get too caught up with that.

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